A Day in the Life at Talis by Zena Amos, Product Manager
What does your typical day look like?
I work from a little summer house office in my back garden so I have that separation from the house and I typically go out there around 9ish. Firstly, I check what’s happening on email and Slack (our internal communication system) and see if there is anything urgent for my attention. I plan my week on a Monday using a product called “Know Your Team” where I share my plans with my team including my Manager, Keji, who is Head of Product. I also review the previous week, what didn’t go so well, what went well etc, so it helps me reflect and prioritise.
I block out time each day allocated to deep work where I do not want to be disturbed. That could be evaluating some of the discovery interviews I have recently done or working or solutionizing a problem, which would involve the wider Product Team, Engineering and User Experience. Since going remote, we use tools such as Miro which enables us to have that white board ideas session without us needing to be in the same room and for us to work asynchronously. Traditionally in a product role, you would do lots of white boarding where you would have your blank canvas, you would highlight what you are trying to solve and your user journey with a myriad of post notes and diagrams. What Miro does is allows you to do that without having to be in the same room at the same time.
It’s important to take breaks from the screen, and also clear the mind before switching tasks, I do make time to take my 6 year old rescue dog, Sully out for walks. Some days I may take a longer lunch break and go for a really decent walk, other times a quick short walk but you can balance it out. You are in control of your own diary so you can decide when you are doing your hours and when you are most productive.
How do you make the flexible working hours work for you?
I have been working remotely for the last 6 years. I moved away from the office that was previously based in Birmingham, to North Scotland. I now live in Moray. When my daughter was younger, I would typically split my day doing 10am-2.30pm and then I would do evening hours a couple of nights a week, to balance school runs and childcare. We could spend some time together e.g., we would bake and do homework together. Working later would also work with our global customers as well, so I was able to spend time on calls to Australia and New Zealand. My daughter is now more self sufficient so I don’t need to do those hours so much, but I still have the same flexibility if I wanted some me time in the day.
What is it like switching to a fully remote job.
I was one of the first people within Talis to go fully remote with my move to Scotland. Before going fully distributed I would have one week a month where I would be in the office. I guess it has changed being fully remote and with lockdown it does change the way you would spend your time. What has changed for the better with everyone else also now being fully remote, the whole business has focused on how we communicate better and enable asynchronous working, meaning a better structure to a typical day with less interruptions and context switching.
What excites you the most about your job at Talis?
Speaking with the customers,100%! I started with Talis as a Support Consultant in the Services Team, and I spoke to customers almost on a daily basis so I was keen to maintain that contact. It is nice that I am able to extend those relationships and meet our new customers since I’ve moved into a Product role. It enables me and the wider Product Team who accompany me on calls to really understand their needs and even more so if you get that golden nugget of information which you haven’t thought about. Really it is about maintaining those trusted relationships where customers can be totally open with me about how they are using the system and describe their issues in the hope that in the product process, we can create outcomes that improve the user’s experience and solve problems.
Explain what sort of a company Talis is to work for?
Talis has always been, I believe, extremely caring about its employees. I think everyone goes through difficult times with their job and I am not afraid to say I have had a couple. I have always felt that I was put first. The first piece of advice that any of my managers have given me is to look after myself and take some time out. I think that everyone does genuinely care for others in the business, with personal accountability in contributing towards a shared goal. Welfare and wellbeing is really top priority for Talis. There is a near flat hierarchy so everyone has a voice – nothing is a silly idea, everything is considered, there’s a lot of respect for others regardless of the role they have.
What team(s) are you directly involved with and how do you ensure you all connect as a fully distributed team?
I am part of the Product Team, but we do not work in silos. Each day I’m working across teams with Engineering, Experience, Services and Marketing. To build relationships with individuals I do try and reach out for catch ups not necessarily work related. It’s nice to grab that 30 mins once a month with people to just find out what’s going on more generally. We do miss those ‘water cooler’ moments, so it’s about making the effort to have those conversations with people, it’s important that we know individuals.
When you are not at work, how do you take time-out?
One of the key things I do to unwind is be creative, art and crafts. I try to regularly draw and paint having some success with some pieces selling and commissions. I also attend a life drawing group every few weeks which focuses on observation and technique. I have been lucky enough to have been asked to create the Talis Christmas card for the past number of years. So if you have received a card in the past, these are designed by me and it is lovely to be asked. Through slack we have many social channels, such as crafting and active talis, so you can get involved that way with your colleagues sharing what you have been doing and seeking inspiration from others. I am also a keen caravaner, some may say embracing my middle age, and it’s certainly been a saviour during the last few years. What I have done recently is work in my caravan next to the sea!! Being fully distributed and the flexible working environment that Talis offer, if you have access to wifi and a comfy seat you can actually work from anywhere!