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Our recent Anywhere Workers study found that remote working is growing in popularity. But while the freedom and flexibility that comes with the job is envied by many, there are also some unique challenges when it comes to real life remote work. Here we talk to Zach Zorn, who manages to combine working as a yacht broker, tournament saltwater fisherman, and technology entrepreneur – showing us the true definition of a Slash Worker.
Where’s your homebase?
San Diego, California
Tell us a little about your remote work journey. When, how, and why did you get into it?
I’ve been working remote on and off for about 6 years now. I got into remote work when I realized I was more productive working from home than in an office. Once I realized I could manage my time well, I decided that seeking out remote work would be ideal. As a yacht broker I get to travel the country which also ties into my tournament fishing. I’m part of a team that travels around the world competing in big money fishing tournaments (two years ago we won $685,000). Lastly I own several websites and a blog () that I am able to manage from anywhere in the world. A few months ago I completed a deal with a private equity company that purchased one of my websites… while on a boat 25 miles off the coast of Mexico.
Is remote working what you imagined it would be? Why/why not?
Yes, I have gained so many experiences that I would not have been subjected to if I stayed home. These experiences have helped me converse with clients, led to business ideas and created memories that will last forever. Remote working is no easy feat, but the positive experiences far outweigh any possible negatives.
Favorite thing about working remotely?
My two favorite things about working remotely would have to be the constant change of scenery and the new challenges that present themselves each day. I’ve never liked the idea of going to the same office and same desk each day. For me, changing scenery increases my happiness which directly relates to my productivity.
Also, as most people will probably share, working remote comes with an ever-changing set of challenges. I welcome these, as they build character and create unforeseen opportunities.
Biggest challenge with working remotely?
From my last trip to Tahiti, I noticed that time zone differences became a big challenge. For my yacht brokering I had to contact clients that were spread throughout the world, I would often wake up to missed calls, emails and texts. This can create stress on both sides, so good communication is critical. I often communicate with Chinese manufactures for my Amazon business, which are nearly on the opposite schedule when I am home. You will learn how to make adjustments to your schedule so that you’re awake when your clients and co-workers are.
What does it take to be successful as a remote worker?
I think it takes very good time management skills, attention to detail and self motivation.
What advice would you give to companies or employers who are working with remote employees?
Make sure the job description is clear and that goals and milestones are agreed upon by both parties. This is especially important when a language barrier is present. Also, take time zones into consideration. If your remote worker is supposed to be online while the company is open, then having a worker half way around the world might not be ideal. I think it should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Our recent Anywhere Workers study found that ⅓ of remote workers have trouble shutting down at the end of the day. Do you have any tips for maintaining a good work/life balance when working remotely?
I find it hard to shut down at the end of the day, so each morning I pick a time that I want to have my work completed by and attempt to stick to that time. Obviously that timing does change as important things do come up near the end of the day, but I think doing the important tasks first thing in the day helps. If the important tasks are taken care of, then you will be more likely to stop working at a decent hour.