Enrique Sánchez – Designer & Front-End Developer at Automattic

Enrique Sánchez – Designer & Front-End Developer at Automattic

Can you introduce yourself?

👋 My name is Enrique and I’m a Designer and Front-End Developer.
I currently live in Saltillo, Mexico and work for Automattic, where I focus on design and accessibility. Automattic is a fully distributed company, with over 1000 employees working from more than 70 countries. I’m on a team that is dedicated full-time to contributing to WordPress and the WordPress community.

When I was a kid, I was very fortunate to have Internet access at home because of my Dad’s work. This was way before it was mainstream and widely accessible to the public. As you can imagine, my curiosity was immediately piqued and next thing you know, I was figuring out how to write HTML and add animated GIFs to my website.
20 years later I’m still infinitely curious about the Web and still learning about it.

How did you start working remotely and why?

I started to work remotely back when I was freelancing, about 10 years ago. At the time I guess I wasn’t really aware that I was working remotely, it just so happened that I didn’t have a “traditional job”.

My freelance work led me to collaborate with a few companies and startups in North America and that’s when I really got a real taste of what working remotely was all about. It opened a whole new set of doors and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

After freelancing for a few years, I got my first full-time remote job at Fog Creek Software, a small tech company based out of New York City. The staff was about half in-office and half remote and we had a very decent process and culture that made working remotely great.

While the name Fog Creek might not ring a bell to many, the company created a few really cool products, such as FogBugz, Trello and most recently Glitch.
I started at Automattic earlier this year, and while I had remote jobs before, Automattic is my first time being at a fully and globally distributed company. The culture is so unique and it’s simply amazing. We don’t have headquarters or traditional offices, everyone is remote and from all over the world.

Automattic is behind products such as WordPress.com, Tumblr, Jetpack, WooCommerce, Simplenote among others.

We truly are passionate about making the Web a better place, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team.

What is your typical day like?

First thing I do every morning is help get my kids ready and drive them to school. I love spending the first hour of my day with them and making sure they start their day with a big smile.

After dropping the kids at school I go to the gym. I’ve been taking a Functional Training class for the past 2 years and I’ve been really enjoying seeing the progress and results.

I then get back home, take a shower and have a slow and quiet breakfast with my wife. I love that we have that moment for ourselves before our day gets busy and hectic.

I start work around 10:00 AM and my schedule varies depending on the day, but I spend most of the time collaborating with folks from all over the world via Slack, Figma and GitHub. Because of time zone differences, I get a good balance between meetings and downtime.

We have a little home office upstairs where I have a standing desk in a corner next to a big window where I spend most of my working hours. Depending on the task and my level of energy, I sometimes like to work from the living room or outside in the backyard.
I usually disconnect from work around 6:00 PM and spend the rest of the day with the family. I also recently started taking electric bass guitar lessons two days a week.

How do you stay efficient and engaged while working remotely? 

I keep a Trello board with things I have to do, things I want/have to do today and a record of things I’ve done every week. This has worked for me lately and I like that I get a visual representation of my performance and workload. Moving a task from ‘Today’ to ‘Done’ is incredibly rewarding and the longer the ‘Done’ list gets the better I feel.

That being said, I’m not immune to distractions and I fail at times. I’ve learned to stop being judgemental to myself and instead, when I find I’m procrastinating, I acknowledge it and try to switch tasks and spend some time on something else. This helps me get back to work and continue being productive.

What are the tools and workflow that you’re using to get things done? 

Because I contribute full-time to WordPress, the majority of my work happens in the open. This means there’s not a single day when I’m not in Slack, Figma and GitHub.

(By the way, if you want to know what designing in the open is like, my friend and colleague Kjell Reigstad wrote an excellent article on what is like to design for open source, in particular, WordPress.)

Design-wise, Figma has been great because of the collaboration features and the cross-platform nature of it. Specifically speaking about WordPress, it has allowed us to easily collaborate on our component libraries and has enabled us to share work with all the contributors, whether they’re on Mac or Windows.

How do you think remote work will evolve in the future? 

I’m hopeful and I see remote work becoming more common and reaching other industries. I think it has the potential to aid with social issues such as urbanization, pollution and economic growth.

How do you stay in touch with your team? 

We use Slack for sync and async communication and Zoom for video meetings. My team, in particular, has a weekly meeting we use to catch up and share our work. Company-wide, we have a monthly town hall. I’m impressed that Zoom can handle all of us connected at the same time.

That being said, we get together in person a few times a year. We have one company-wide gathering every year and depending on the team and projects you’re on, you would have smaller team meetups throughout the year. 

What do you enjoy most about working remotely?

The freedom and flexibility to work how and when it best suits me. This allows me to spend the time I need doing the things that are important to me.

Working remotely has also allowed me to work for some amazing companies and on projects that really interest me that otherwise I wouldn’t have had access to.

What is your office/workspace look like? 

I use a 15” MacBook Pro connected to an external 27” LG UltraFine display. I’m also using Apple’s keyboard and mouse. For video conferencing, I use a Sennheiser U320 headset.

What are the challenges of being a remote worker? 

I’ve honestly have not found it challenging at all. On the contrary, I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to be able to work this way. 
Like I said before, working remotely has opened so many doors and allowed to have freedom and flexibility.

How do you combat feelings of loneliness, isolation and burnout?

While I don’t consider myself an introvert, I’m also definitively not an extrovert. I’m somewhere in the middle. I enjoy social interaction but I don’t need huge amounts of it, so I haven’t found working remotely to be a problem in that sense.

As for burnout, I find that the flexibility that working remotely provides, and in particular working for a company such as Automattic, allow me to step away from the computer if I need to, or even take a day off if need more space.
This is also an area where exercise and hobbies have played a big role and have made a difference in how I feel.

What is special about the place where you live?

I don’t think there’s anything special about Saltillo, at least from a touristic standpoint. I grew up here and I like being close to family and friends.
On the other hand, I love living in Mexico. The food is simply amazing and the country so culturally rich and diverse.

As someone who loves tacos 🌮and avocados 🥑, I think I’m in heaven.

Besides work, how do you like to spend your time?

I mentioned before that I recently started taking bass guitar lessons. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for such a long time and I’m glad I finally decided to get started this year. 

I also love mountain biking. It’s a fun and challenging sport and a great excuse to go outdoors and spend some time in nature.

Do you have any recommendations for those who want to work remotely too? 

Because of the nature of online applications these days, I recommend folks to spend enough time building a good resume and portfolio. It’s your first opportunity to cause and impression and set yourself apart from the rest. 

Apply to as many opportunities as possible, and learn from the rejections. Always ask for feedback whenever you receive a rejection. Learn, iterate and try again.

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