The Nomad City 19 Chats- Tammy Bjelland
Revealing the first speakers of Nomad City 2019 starts with Tammy Bjelland, the founder of Workplaceless, and an avid advocate of all things remote.
Tammy Bjelland is not a name that needs special introduction in the Nomad City circles, but in case you are joining us for the first time this year, Tammy is the founder of Workplaceless, a training company specializing in programs for remote workers, leaders, and executives, and draws from her professional experience in edtech, publishing, higher ed, and training and development to drive the learning strategy and methodology behind all of Workplaceless’ learning programs. She is also the author of How to Learn Online and speaks at events around the world on topics related to the future of work and the future of learning. This November, she will be joining Nomad City again as a workshop speaker on the topic of communication in a remote team. We took a minute with her to speak about her participation, her journey, and some of her remote tips.
How did you become involved with Nomad City?
I became involved with Nomad City in 2018 when Laurel Farrer introduced me to Nacho. I was very excited about the event and the unique approach of Nomad City, and I immediately wanted to participate.
What’s your remote story?
While I started working remotely full time in 2011, in reality, I had plenty of practice before then when I was working in academia. Graduate school and working in higher education really prepare you well for working independently during non-traditional hours! In 2011 I got my first officially remote position working for an edtech company. I then worked for various startups in edtech, publishing, and corporate training, and then started Workplaceless when I saw that there were no professional development resources for remote workers.
What’s your favourite place to work from?
I am a creature of habit and I prefer to work out of my home office.
Can you share with us a failure of yours that later turned out to be a learning moment?
I quit my PhD program when I was mid-dissertation. I don’t view that as a failure, but some people might! I was very worried that other people would view it as a failure. However, I learned a few important lessons: 1. People don’t care as much about your decisions as you think they will. 2. Life is too short to continue on a path that does not bring you joy nor is aligned with your goals—it’s OK to quit even if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into a path that doesn’t work out.
What does your workday usually look like?
I usually wake up between 6 and 7:30 am, and get started with work around 8:30. I take a break around lunchtime to either go to the gym or to a yoga class, then work until around 5 or 6.
Do you have any particular practices that help your through periods of work difficulties?
I journal every day to help me focus on my priorities and combat mental blocks. When I have trouble focusing I use tools that eliminate distractions. I also take regular breaks throughout the day.
Any resources you would recommend to people either starting out on their remote journey, or already on their way?
For those who are just starting out, I recommend the Workplaceless Remote Work Certification, which trains you on the essential skills to succeed in a distributed environment. For those who have already been working remotely and want to level up their careers, I recommend the Leadplaceless program for new or aspiring managers, and Trainplaceless for new or aspiring trainers/learning and development practitioners.
What is something you wish more people knew about being remote?
Doing good work takes constant practice, openness, and desire to learn. The same is true for remote work—just because you have done something in the past does not mean you can’t learn ways to improve your outcomes or experience. It takes constant work to do remote work well!
What do you think people should focus on the most when venturing out to become remote workers or entrepreneurs?
Developing their skills and being able to demonstrate those skills to employers, team members, and clients.
What’s your favourite perk of remote work?
Flexibility! And the ability to have ownership of my schedule and focus.
Where do you see remote work in 20 years?
I see remote work as becoming more and more normalized—I am not sure I can predict that in 20 years remote work will become the norm, but I sure hope that by that point we’re well on our way.
Any last words you would like to share with the Nomad City community?
Can’t wait to see you all in November!