Working from home can be an amazingly fulfilling career experience. Likewise, a trip to your local Chinese food buffet can be a culinary delight. But both can also be abjectly horrible. Here are my recommendations for successful remote work without the debilitating pains of post-dumpling bloat.
Project Manager Taylor Strachan, Software Developer Steven Slack, and Taylor’s husband Brian in Asheville, N.C. earlier this year.
Alley Interactive is named after our headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley, an area near the Flatiron building where numerous Internet startups had their offices during the first tech boom. But, in practice, our company is based wherever our laptops can connect. Our team members are in every corner of the country, from Bangor, Maine to Los Angeles, California and from Spokane, Washington, to Miami, Florida. We’re in 19 states, all four continental U.S. time zones, and we recently added a team member based in Canada(!), making us an officially international team.
When your team is distributed, it’s easy to pick up and move around while continuing to contribute to projects. The flexibility allows you to adjust to whatever life throws at you without having to touch your working environment. Alley team members take advantage of that freedom. At least four separate team members have moved to or from our headquarters since I started working here last year: Director of Product Development Josh Kadis moved from Seattle to New York City, User Experience Developer Ian Del Giudice moved from Boston to Brooklyn, Project Manager Melanie Ferras moved from Brooklyn to Miami, and User Experience Developer Matt Nadolny moved from Brooklyn to, officially, Delaware.
The beauty lies not only in the ease of a cross-country move, but in the ability to turn a weekend getaway into a month-long cultural immersion. Alley team members are notorious for hopping around the world without wide prior warning, with the only clue to their location seen in video chat windows showing a few palm trees in the background or a darkness outside that indicates they’re in a very different timezone. Principal Software Developer Jake Foster is one of our stealth travelers. While officially based in New York City, he has popped up online from New Mexico and Panama. Software Developer James Burke, based in Pennsylvania, is another avid traveler. He recently spent two weeks in Jeju, South Korea, exploring the island during the day and spending the U.S. working hours helping to build a major site we’re launching later this summer. During this past winter, Steven Slack, a software developer from Asheville, N.C., relocated for six weeks to Miami with his wife Rachel and newborn son, Ridge. Matt Nadolny currently holds the record for most time spent on the other side of the world — he’s spent the last few months exploring Australia and New Zealand, and often shows off his view of the sunrise sky during our Friday afternoon all-staff meeting. And, even as I type this, our Director of Marketing and Business Development Amanda Shareghi is chatting our marketing team from 30,000 feet above Europe on a London-Rome flight.
Sometimes, Alley helps create travel serendipity. Project Manager Taylor Strachan and her husband Brian recently undertook a four-week road trip through the Southeastern U.S. While on a call with Steven Slack, she realized that Steven’s home in Asheville was just a short detour away. A quick turn of the steering wheel later, Taylor was working out of the same coworking space as her fellow team member during the day, and Steven took the Strachans on a mountain bike tour of the Asheville hills in the evening.
Remote work is an essential part of our culture. Whether it’s the ability to connect from another hemisphere or the freedom to stay home to wait for a package, Alley’s policies are set up to make the work/life balance a little easier. We strive to include the best team members regardless of geographic location, and we know that being in the same place isn’t always necessary to get on the same page.