Home Office Life: Aleksandar Abu-Samra – Product and Project Manager

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Aleksandar is a 30 year old product and project manager, originally from Serbia. He’s been living a pretty nomadic lifestyle for the past 2 years, jumping mostly around North and South America, but currently, he’s back in Belgrade to visit his family.

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What is it you do?

I’m a product and project manager, working on tech projects with different clients in different industries, from corporate innovation to blockchain

How long have you been working remotely?

Around 3 years now.

Are you employed or a freelancer? If employed, what is your arrangement and how did you convince your boss?

I’m technically a freelancer (contracting my services), but the clients I have are fairly steady as the projects are ongoing, so it feels more like employment.

Any project you want to share?

The last project I worked for was Santiment.net, a blockchain analytics and financial insights platform. My main role was to improve the company’s understanding of their customers and implement systems to regularly engage in customer development on all of their projects.

If there is such a thing, how does a normal workday look for you?

There is no such thing. I typically plan my day in the morning and decide how and where will I work. On a “full” work day, I like to have a chunk of time, typically in the morning, where I would work from home undistracted.

Working in coffee shops stress free home office

Then I would go out for lunch, and continue my work day from a coffeeshop to energize and get my creative juices going.

Can you think of a time you were really happy to be working remotely?

All the time! I have a lot of “non-9-to-5” friends with whom I love to meet at random hours and hit different places in their non-peak times. I also don’t need to get permission to travel or have a day off. This helps me ad-hoc plan my long weekends or hit conferences and similar events that happen during work hours.

What’s your biggest achievement/ milestone regarding remote work?

Understanding how to make a product role work in a remote setting with people across time zones.

What is your biggest struggle with working remotely?

Constantly needing to remind myself that I have to go out there and engage with the community. That’s not a problem when I’m visiting my hometown, but whenever I travel it’s easy to forget that other humans are an important part of our lives.

What do you do to deal with it?

I try to find co-working spaces that focus on creatives, start a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop, go to interest-based meetup groups etc.

Working in coffee shops stress free home office

How does working remotely affect your stress levels?

Not too much. Sometimes it can be stressful when multiple clients have similar deadlines, or when things are prolonged due to time zones or chat-based miscommunication. However, in general it doesn’t happen too often.

Was there a specific reason why you wanted to work remotely?

Ability to travel and an option to work part-time so I can dedicate more of my free time to side projects.

What’s the most important skill that helped you make it?

I have a background in software engineering which made it easier to get first remote jobs and progress towards management later.

Are there any essential apps or tools you use daily?

Trello, Slack, Mural, Miro, There
I’m also testing out Krisp.ai for taking calls from noisy places.

Apart from your computer, what’s the most important item in your office?

A blank notebook where I can sketch workflows and wireframes or quickly visualize execution plans.

What’s your favorite 90s jam?

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