Ascending to Remote Work

May 25, 2018 Morgan Smillie

After two years of working in the Indianapolis headquarters, Alex Spears decided it was time for him to relocate to Boise, Idaho. He entered the Ascend program in 2015, upon graduating from DePauw University with degrees in Computer Science and Biology. He quickly grew from a college grad to an Associate Consultant. Now he’s a Developer Ops Engineer, working to review and release code into a testing environment. 

Appirio has given him the tools, knowledge, and resources to continue his career while working remotely. In his spare time, he is a Salesforce Developer Group Leader in Boise and avid snowboarder.

Hear from Alex on his transition from being in the Ascend program to working remotely. 

How did the Ascend program prepare you for the transition from college to consulting?
AS: Ascend taught me how to deal with challenging situations, time management, conflict resolution, and what it means to have a healthy work-life balance. Learning strategies in preventing burnout and how to keep an open line of communication among my team members were key skills I used in my transition out of the Ascend program and into my first professional role as a developer.

Did Ascend allow you to create the opportunities you hoped for when you graduated from college?
AS: The program provides accelerated learning, which definitely exceeded my own career expectations, in terms of business and technical knowledge. When I graduated from DePauw, I knew I had to discover my own career, and the Ascend program answered a lot of the questions that arose from my discovery process. The program cleared the fog of confusion that new professionals often say they feel when entering the workforce.

What is it like working 100% remotely at Appirio, and how do you overcome the challenges that come along with remote work?
AS: Some of the challenges in being 100% remote revolve around collaboration and networking with co-workers. It’s not as easy to collaborate and network organically without being in person. I have compensated for that by reaching out to coworkers more often and making a concerted effort to connect with my peers on my project team. The Appirio culture definitely allows for this by equipping us with so many collaborative tools. Salesforce Chatter is the best way to stay engaged. Groups on Salesforce Chatter, such as the Centers of Excellence (COE) and smaller geographical Chatter groups, are extremely helpful. Google tools like Hangouts gives me the chance to both the ping coworkers instantly and connect to meetings through the video features. 

How did you design your workspace?
AS: Having a dedicated workspace is essential for maximum productivity. Working 100% from home does carry some mental challenges. Sitting in the same place 8-10 hours a day everyday can be taxing. One of the best investments I made was getting a sit-stand desk. This is especially nice during calls or just getting to stand up — yes, standing makes a difference. And ensuring that there is adequate lighting and displays at comfortable eye levels is important to having a productive workspace. If there are low intensity tasks such as responding to emails, I will sit on my outdoor porch or in a different part of my house to get a different “view.” I decided that my workspace should be in a separate room in my home just dedicated to working. Occasionally, towards the end of the day I may go to work from a coffee shop to switch things up and prevent dreaded cabin fever. 

What types of learning have you been able to do remotely?
AS: Salesforce devotes a large amount of resources and time to learning. It doesn’t matter if you are working remotely or not, you have the same opportunity. Appirio also has internal learning systems, giving every Appirian the opportunity to advance their learning in every part of the business. Appirio allowed me to go to the 2017 Salesforce Trailhead Conference to connect with peers and get more exposure to the Salesforce ecosystem. It’s important for me to see the scope of what Salesforce offers. As a technical consultant this is key, because I truly believe “you don't know what you don't know” — and that carries over to everything you learn in life.

How does the ability to work from home help you with advancing your career path?
AS: It has forced me to look ahead in my career and not compare myself to others. It’s good for me to not have anyone to compare myself to, but I still wonder how my skills stack up. These unknown skillsets are hard to gauge, since I’m not with my coworkers everyday. It’s motivated me to accelerate my knowledge because of that unknown. 


Remote work is  a core benefit of Appirio’s culture. Check out where our U.S. Salesforce consultants call home. Want to boost the Salesforce presence in your state? Consider joining Appirio and the remote fun today!

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