Kasia Janoska, keeping the balance between working remotely and living your life

September 19, 2019

My office

Working remotely appeals to you.  You will save time commuting and you can choose where to work – from home, in another country, in a coffee shop, by the beach, in the mountains – the choice is almost endless. You only need a computer and an internet connection to carry out your tasks.

On the other hand, working at home can mean being alone most of the time. Are you concerned about feeling disconnected from the company sometimes? 

There are also other problems which people might experience regardless of where they work including being overloaded with work, meeting deadlines, producing results. And especially in industries which are reliant on the internet, what about finding your inbox full of urgent emails first thing, writing bug reports and so on?

Our employee of the month, Kasia Janoska from Poland, tells us how she almost went to pieces over stress and also what helped her regain her balance.

This can happen to all of us. I have been here at OnTheGoSystems for 5 years now and should have been aware of the dangers of too much ambition. You see, I have many passions, hobbies, and ambitions. Sometimes I take on too much at once and this is what happened last year. I wanted to do my best in huge front-end projects, participate in every UX project at the company, finish very demanding post-graduate User Experience Design studies, start a new podcast about working from home, keep up with my blog, travel as much as possible and still get enough sleep and spend time with my loved ones. 

Although I finally did manage to finish the biggest projects, I cannot say that this ended up without casualties, but now I can draw on this insight for the rest of my life. What I’ve learned from last year’s experience is that besides time needed for work and great projects all of us definitely need to plan time for rest and relaxation. Without clear time off it is easy to fall apart.  It’s great that OnTheGoSystems has a Scholarship program designed to promote a good work-life balance.

Your ambitiousness did not develop overnight, right?

University graduation day

Too true. When I was very little, I wanted to be a saleslady. My cousin and I always played keeping shops and I was selling all kinds of stuff. The candy shop was the best! My understanding of a saleslady back then was: if I already have all the candies I just can eat them without having to spend all my pocket money to buy them. Oh, what a disappointment that was when I found out it does not work like that!

Soon enough I found my new dream job: I decided to be my father when I grew up! Back then my father was fascinated with computers and programming. One time he wrote a game for me. He just sat there in front of our old TV and created a whole new world for me. This was a real game-changer and from then on I just knew I wanted to do that too. Although I haven’t become my father, working in a great IT team and creating new products without leaving my house is definitely close enough!

As a child, I was always assertive. One thing I remember is when I was playing with my sister. She was my dog, and I was walking her around on a leash made from a length of thin string. Then my mom called us for dinner and what did I do? I thought dogs should not eat with humans at the table, right? So I took the “leash” and attached my sister to the fence, saying she cannot eat with humans, and I just walked away. It did not take too much time to hear my poor sister running towards me. She still had the thin string wrapped around her neck so… she fell down and banged her head against the pavement. Now when I think about this from an adult perspective I am terrified that I could have killed her that day! I am really glad I didn’t because today, she is my best friend.

5 years ago you joined OTGS. Was there a job opening? Did you apply?

This actually is a funny story I love sharing with people. I attended WordPress meetup in Warsaw and took part in a little competition organized by one of the OTGS developers. There were some questions about Toolset plugins and three people answered correctly. 

There was only one Toolset license to win so it was decided like this: 

“We should solve this as adults. Let’s play paper, stone, scissors!

So we did. And I won the prize. Later on, the CEO of OTGS himself contacted me to hand me the prize. We had a nice chat and he asked me if I would like to come to a job interview for a front-end developer at OnTheGoSystems. I was a freelancer then, so I thought: “Why not! If it does not work out, I will treat OTGS simply as one of my short term clients”. 

Aaaand, yes I have been here for 5 years now. The biggest change during the past 5 years is definitely the size of the company. Back then it was rather a small company, I knew everyone and everyone knew me, we did not really have any strict rules, we just focused on doing our best at work that we really liked. Today OnTheGoSystems has around 100 people. We have procedures, training programs, and in-depth financial meetings but the best is I still feel we have this friendly vibe around here. 

Although last year you took on too much, do you think that working closely with various teams within OTGS contributes to stress?

Good work-setup is essential

Some stress is a good thing. My position in the company allows me to work with every team there is. I am super happy about that because I get to know everyone and keep up to date with ongoing projects. I am very curious about different cultures so I try to have little chit-chats before going to the business of the day during our calls.

You would expect that working in such a big team with so many cultures would give plenty of “opportunities” for stressful situations and misunderstandings. But honestly, I cannot recall even one personality clash caused by our cultural differences. I think Laura, our COO, does a brilliant job handling the first interview. She always just knows if the person applying for the job will fit the company culture or not and makes sure that everyone in the company is tolerant,  open-minded and keen to investigate possibilities. 

 What has been your favorite project?

My favorite project so far is a plugin GUI redesign that I am not sure I can talk about yet, so shh… ;)  But even if this one is not released yet, I still am very proud of the project because we were able to perform a full UX process with it including research, discovering our clients’ needs, team workshops for ideation (brainstorms to choose the best idea) and modeling. We even built a prototype and performed tests with users. Eventually, when we reach the development stage, we will not only know what to do but also why we are doing this and for whom.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

Be proactive! The most valued employees in OTGS are the ones who come up with their own projects and ideas. It is easy to follow a list of given tasks, but speaking up when something can be done much better, faster or easier is something that keeps us growing. I really love working with people for whom a “good enough” approach is not good enough and we can make things we are truly proud of at the end.

What about other opportunities eg your involvement with …  eg WordCamps.

I love attending WordCamps and WordUps – this is what we call WordPress Meetups in Poland. I have not missed a single WordCamp Poland since 2013 and I’ve been a speaker every year since 2014. My favourite topic to talk about is how WordPress helped me become a remote worker and how this is the best form of work there can be! :)

If you could change one thing about working here, what would it be?

I would certainly want to meet my colleagues more often. I love our annual meetings when I can recharge my motivational batteries ;) Fortunately, some of us live not that far away from each other, so we have quite a few opportunities for little meetups. This year already, I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with 2 of my colleagues in Poland.

Best of all, I am happy that working remotely here at OTGS gives me wonderful opportunities to enjoy life!  I am happiest when I am on a boat moored to the shore after a long time at sea. sipping wine, admiring the sunset and talking to my sailor friends till the dawn. Sailing makes me super happy and there is nothing else that could replace the feeling of the wind in my hair and the sound of waves.

Working remotely doesn’t mean being alone most of the time and feeling disconnected from the company. There are ways to overcome challenges such as being overloaded with work, meeting deadlines or producing results. Here at OTGS, you will have plenty of support to face such concerns successfully.

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