There’s nothing wrong with treating a job as just a job, punching in at 8 and out at 5. I have had jobs that either warranted (or elicited) that level of engagement, resulting in an arm’s-length attitude.
Happily, that has not been the case with my current employer: 10up, a WordPress-centric web agency focused on delivering simple (maybe even fun) online publishing experiences.
Today is my two-year anniversary at 10up. I can honestly say that this has been the best job of my life, delivering equal parts challenge and reward. Despite only being here two years, the experience I have gained feels more like a decade’s worth.
Working full-time from home is a great challenge. I have written before about how to succeed when working remotely, but it is worth repeating that working from home is an intense experience. With a traditional job, work is a building far from your home, your family, and (if you don’t check work emails at night) your mind. When your company is fully distributed, work has a way of pushing you harder than you ever have been pushed before because you are always around it.
I came to 10up as a project manager, handling 14 big name clients (ESPN, TED, and the World Economic Forum, to name a few) while simultaneously leading a team that swelled to 20 direct reports. Without my entrepreneurial streak, I would have quickly burned out or become a disengaged cynic. Instead, through collegial camaraderie and leadership support, I dug in and focused on succeeding, all from my little home office in lightly populated northern Maine.
The reward (my teammates)
The real reward of 10up is the team itself. I have been able to collaborate on amazing web projects with some of the best people in web development. Being fully distributed, 10up doesn’t need to hire employees who can commute to a big, old office building. We can hire anyone with a reliable internet connect (who is also a talented web professional). I’ve built great things with people from all over North America, plus Milan, Warsaw, Kenya, and the UK. We have employees in every hemisphere on Earth, and I love that fact.
To succeed at 10up, you need dedication and solid web skills, but the “soft skill” of functioning in a culture dependent on video calls and Slack chats is a must. Despite the distance, the human aspect of a successful company culture—honest support, collaborative brainstorming, copious in-jokes—flourishes at 10up. I don’t know what I would do without it.
When you rely more on what you write and say, and less on body language, to communicate with your coworkers, you quickly boil down to your most essential self. As such, my verbal and written communication skills have evolved greatly, though there is always more work to be done. I feel I know, and am known, but my coworkers more truthfully than ever before, an intimate fact that I treasure. People from thousands of miles away can brighten my day by delivering an amazing code strategy, deftly timed chat joke, or animated GIF—how wonderful is that?
10up has given me many opportunities to succeed. Some of the best learning you can do is experiential, and being pushed to the edge of the diving board at 10up has benefited me greatly. The spectrum of what I have taken into my wheelhouse—management of projects, people, clients, budgets, strategy—is staggering when I think about where I was just a few years ago.
Thanks to every single member of #team10up: regardless of our professional relationship, you have shaped what has become my most positive work world. 10up is a special place and I look forward to the coming challenges.