An Interview with Phil Byrne, Author of Head In The Clouds

A few weeks back we gave you the opportunity to win a free e-book entitled Head In The Clouds: The Location Independent Office – How to take your business or job online and work remotely from wherever you please! The competition is still currently open but we will be judging soon!

Phil Byrne, the author, has kindly agreed to answer a quick interview to give some background to the book.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Phil Byrne, I am a web marketeer and online business person. I have two aspects to my working life, firstly I help a number of clients across the world in marketing their businesses online. Secondly, I design and develop my own online businesses that either earn affiliate income or sell products directly.

Are you a remote worker? If so how did you end up working in this way?

I am lucky enough to work 100% remotely. 4 years ago, I was working full time from my agency office in Leeds city centre. As the recession hit, our business changed and this resulted in our company losing 70% of our staff. Whilst this was a tough time, it allowed me to work more and more from my own home, which was well over an hour commute away. My now wife had also just started her Phd in musicology and she received funding to visit Buenos Aires to pursue her research. I decided to go to. Since then, we have lived in 5 countries and never returned to the UK. I have continued to work with my agency and pursue my own projects from everywhere we have lived/been.

Are there any urls you’d like to share with us and why?

Yes please!

I write a blog focused on location independence/remote working and travel. I have also recently launched my first Kindle eBook entitled Head In The Clouds: The Location Independent Office – How to take your business or job online and work remotely from wherever you please!. There’s quite a few ebooks that inspire and encourage people to go location independent, I’ve tried to make mine different by focusing on the actual software and applications I’ve used to work remotely since leaving my home in the UK.

What is your current hardware set up? What do you have in your remote worker kit?

I have a Sony Vaio laptop, 8GB Ram, 450GB HDD and an Intel 2.4Ghz Processor. I plug a mouse, headphones and 17″ monitor into my laptop to work each day.

My fav remote applications are Skype, Dropbox, Zendone and Evernote. I also use a lot of Google’s services like Gmail, Docs and their website marketing tools. I have a number of tips on how to set yourself up for remote working and all of these are discussed within the eBook! However, one thing I would say is that aiming to find online (not desktop) applications for everything you can is the way forward for total location independence.

Do you use remote working technologies? What about mobile technologies?

I do, my favourite of which I mention above. I am also looking out for new applications/technologies to enhance my remote working life. For example, if you use Evernote, the new online meeting services offered by LiveMinutes.com are excellent. I also like to find mobile apps for all technologies I use if possible. Right now, I have apps for Dropbox, Skype, Evernote and Google Docs on my Android phone. One example of a benefit having such apps is that if I’m out and about and without internet connection, I can still take a quick voice or text note of a new idea (they tend to come to me when I’m out with the dog!). This note is then auto uploaded to Evernote, and my to do list, when I get home and my phone finds wifi again.

What apps or Web sites would you recommend for remote workers or people who work on the road?

Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, Gmail and when it’s launched I’m looking forward to having a ZenDone app on my phone too!

Have you had any funny or interesting experiences while working from home?

When we lived in Buenos Aires we used to have frequent power cuts. What I learnt to do was take a note of all the local cafes that had both wifi and a generator for electric power when the cuts happened. I would head for these cafes when the power went and I needed to meet someone online or do something quickly. These cafes at such time would be rammed and I would end up trying to get through a meeting with the loud ‘portenos’ screaming around me or, even worse, deciding now was a good time to break out into tango song and dance!

Have you taken part in virtual meetings, participate in video conferencing, present or attend webinars? How did you find them?

I have virtual meetings pretty much everyday I work. They are a learning curve for both facilitator and client, but can be highly productive through practice. The key I believe is to accept that they are different to face to face meetings.

Virtual meetings actually offer some advantages and these should be utilised fully. For example, I find chatting about website design/content/copy/changes easier via a virtual meeting than it ever would be face to face. You can bring the webpage right up onto the meeting screen and everyone can mark and note what the individual thinks should be changed or enhanced. Webinars work for the same reason, it allows everyone present to view something clearly and with total focus.

On the other hand, discussing fees/money is much harder virtually! Probably best done in writing via email.

As mentioned above, I really like the new liveminutes.com service for virtual meetings.

Are there any final thoughts or words of wisdom you’d like to share with us?

If you’re interested in remote working, I think you should just go ahead and start. Begin working remotely on the areas of your job that most easily transfer online and into the cloud. Then, look at the different tasks you do and gradually try out methods/technologies and applications that could potentially work for you online. Over time, you’ll perfect your methods. Doing all of this gradually allows you, your colleagues and your clients to gradually adapt too.

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Don’t forget to enter the win a free e-book competition by posting ‘what remote working means to you’.

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