HubSpot's Remote Learning Experience Designer who loves travelling
Meghan is a principal Learning Experience Designer and a Remote Advocate
1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?
Hi! I’m Meghan, a Principal Learning Experience Designer @ HubSpot. I’m writing from the nation’s capital, Washington DC, where my husband, dog and I are living for the next few months. We’re looking forward to an upcoming move down to the sunshine state, right outside of Disney World.
I am a native Michigander, but have found myself in a different city every other year for the past decade due to my love of traveling, different cultures, and job opportunities. I began my career as an educator, following in my grandmother’s footsteps. For my first year out of college, I taught migrant workers and their children at Michigan State University in the Migrant Student Services program.
This was my introduction to the Learning & Development space, and is where I learned how to adapt to various audiences, age ranges, learning styles, and engagement techniques, and ultimately how to connect best with my students. My journey was furthered by a position as an international consultant. I was subsequently a Learning Specialist, Learning Experience Designer, and finally a Learning Manager for both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Beverages Florida (but not at the same time!) and ultimately, at HubSpot.
My passion is learner-centric design with a focus on enabling performance as well as building experiences that are inclusive of remote workers. I love being able to take my remote experiences and put them to use by applying what I’ve learned every day to my work.
2. What motivated you to choose remote working?
Hindsight is always 20/20: I did not intentionally seek a remote work job. The right opportunity aligned itself at the right time, and I’m so thankful that it did. The culture, people, and work that I am able to do at HubSpot bring me an immense amount of joy. The remote aspect of my role is a major bonus in that it provides flexibility to my working style and allows me to stay with the company I love even as my family relocates across the country to support my partner’s career.
I began my remote role at HubSpot in September of 2019 and hit the ground running to design a remote-inclusive global onboarding program. The timing couldn’t have been better, since we were essentially ahead of the curve and equipped for the shift to an engaging, fully remote, week-long onboarding experience when the pandemic rolled around. For this project, I spent many hours interviewing and getting to know other remote workers across the company and learning about their daily life and challenges. For the first twelve months, I continued to wonder when reality would set in and the interactions and my role would no longer feel like a dream – I’m still waiting for that moment. The culture and people at HubSpot are second to none and truly create a flexible, transparent, and fun working environment – wherever that may find you.
Speaking of culture, one of the many reasons I’m so happy in my remote role is due to the immense amount of time and intention that HubSpot leaders and colleagues have put into building the right culture at HubSpot. Our Culture Code lays the groundwork for how we operate, it’s worth checking out when you have the time.
3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?
My initial months working remotely blew my expectations out of the water. Over the years I had worked a few months remotely at previous companies following a move to a different state, but the cultures were never set up to truly support and include remote workers. Remote work always seemed to be an afterthought. HubSpot, on the other hand, has been supporting remote workers and intentionally building programs and systems to support them for quite some time.
This was even more of a focus in 2018 with the addition of our Remote Work and Inclusion Program Manager, Meaghan Williams, who has played a major role in supporting our remote workforce with innovations, communication, and engagement to better connect our remote community.
A few things that pleasantly surprised me as a remote worker were the genuine relationships I was able to form with my coworkers, whether they were located in one of our global offices, in their home office, or a couch in their living room. I also enjoyed the autonomy around my workload and responsibilities, and the ease with which my colleagues communicate asynchronously regarding project management details, general team banter, or other work updates. It was a much more flexible and adaptable environment than I was used to, and fast paced, which I love.
4. How did you find remote working roles?
I wasn’t intentionally searching for remote working roles. I used to buy into the notion that you had to be in the office to experience the culture and to have fun with your colleagues. It’s easy to feel that way when your office has beer on tap, ping pong tables, relaxing lounge areas, a free smoothie bar, and many other amenities. Don’t get me wrong – these are incredible perks – but finding happiness in work is so much more than what can be found within a building. The spark of the flashy in-office perks eventually wears off, and at the end of the day it’s the culture, the people, the work itself, and the flexibility to live a full life that matters.
Now that my eyes have opened to the vast benefits within the remote working world, I can provide a few suggestions on where to look for remote roles. HubSpot has a Remote section and job search on our careers page. LinkedIn is a great way to search for roles, and other remote resources are daily remote, remote.co, and flex jobs.
5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?
The best aspect of remote working for me is the flexibility. The amount of freedom remote work has brought to my life – from my work location to my working hours – has been a game changer. You can’t put a price tag on the ability to grow your career and grow your life, wherever both may take you. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I am thankful that it’s now a reality for me to be able to say this (especially as we’re gearing up for yet another move)!
It’s been a great experience to work in a very remote-friendly and psychologically safe environment where it’s normal to have your camera turned on to have more authentic interactions with peers. This includes having the freedom to communicate when I’m stepping away from the computer to take my dog for a walk or take a micro break.
We have informal channels for communication that are not necessarily aimed at work, but are important for our team cohesiveness. One such example includes our “#dogspotting” Slack channel where global colleagues share pics of their dogs, #dad-jokes where you can go if you need a laugh, as well as local channels for RemoteSpotters to chat about restaurants or local events. I love how these platforms and the HubSpot culture have normalized the expression of emotions through emojis, GIFs, and memes to better articulate tone and personality. Not only is this just fun, I find it really helpful to get your message across in an effective way.
I can honestly say there haven’t been any very poor experiences as a Remote HubSpotter. A general topic that comes up is the exhaustion that can come from being on video and engaged if you have a packed day. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to turn off your video or prioritize your energy according to your needs, especially in today’s world where there are more external stressors than normal that we’re unable to control.
Another that I experienced early on in my remote days was the difficulty that presented itself when in a meeting with some people that were remote, and a group that was huddled together in a meeting room. It’s inevitable that side conversations occur between those in the physical room, and ultimately the audio and overall experience is a bit challenging to balance. HubSpot’s 2020 Remote Work Report found this to be quite a common theme, with 48% of remote workers weighing in that they (strongly) agree that they have a stronger sense of belonging within their team or company when everyone works remotely.
6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?
Our HubSpot tools such as Meetings, Workflows, and Snippets have allowed me to be more efficient with my time and in my communication. Asynchronous communication enabled by Slack and comments and shared editing in G Suite has been so helpful not only when collaborating with colleagues located in a similar time zone, but with my colleagues in Singapore, Japan, Dublin, and beyond.
Many people feel anxiety about being remote because they worry their work isn’t “seen”. This can cause overcompensation and excessive use of all of the communication channels. At HubSpot we’ve been very intentional in crafting guidelines and proactively communicating expectations throughout our onboarding process.
Zoom has been great as well. From a connection standpoint, the use of video allows us to bond over personal aspects that wouldn’t typically be shared in a work environment such as our living arrangements, pets, children, decor, and plants. It’s also enabled us to bring together our remote community through biweekly remote “water cooler meetings” – complete with virtual backgrounds. This allows RemoteSpotters a safe space to replicate some of the casual, informal conversation that often occurs in the physical workspace.
7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.
There are two hilarious events that come to mind since I’ve been working remotely. One is all the laughs my team and I share during our game time. At least once a month we try to schedule time to decompress and play virtual games together. Some of our favorites are jeopardy and code names. I highly recommend you carve out some time to do this with your team – it’s always a blast.
A unique aspect of working remotely is the reality of living with a dog who loves to eat grass. Especially in my early days of working at HubSpot, my dog would get sick in the middle of some pretty important meetings. I was a nervous wreck for my dog, but the compassion and empathy shown by my colleagues helped to solidify that remote working is just different, and it’s okay for your personal life to take over at times. I’ve met people’s partners, newborn babies, and puppies over Zoom and am pretty confident that I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if we were all working in an office.
8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?
Own your schedule. Make use of the tools you have to clearly communicate your working style, preferred methods of communication, and block off your schedule when you need to carve out some time to focus. On that note, take the time to identify when you are at your creative peak. For me, this is in the late afternoon and evenings.
9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?
I am very humbled to say that my career is shaping up better than I could have imagined. There is a common misconception that being remote can stunt your career growth, and I’m thankful to say that is not the case. I’ve always had high aspirations and plan to continue to build remote-inclusive experiences and programs that push the creative boundary. I love to build bridges and relationships across the business to better serve our stakeholders, understand the business, and connect the dots.
Every year I make a list of a few stretch goals to inspire me to dream big and have somewhat of a north star to motivate myself to say “yes” to opportunities. This year, many of those goals revolved around sharing my team’s learnings and continuing to connect with others in the global Learning & Development community. I’m very grateful to say that I’ve managed to check quite a few goals off the list. This mindset really started when I was selected as part of the Learning 30 Under 30 program in 2018. This opportunity pushed me far out of my comfort zone and helped me to find my voice. (More reflections on that experience here).
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sharing our HubSpot data journey and lessons learned from the implementation of our Learning Record Store with my colleague, Hasti Mehta, on a Training Industry Webinar. And I have three upcoming podcast episodes – one with the Training Industry’s The Business of Learning where I’ll speak on Learning Experience, one on the Learning Experience Leader podcast with Greg Williams, and I’ll be speaking with Bob Mosher about my 5 Moments of Need journey on the Performance Matters podcast. I’m very excited to continue to grow my career at HubSpot and learn with others along the way.
10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?
The current coronavirus pandemic is a huge catalyst for change and has demonstrated to many people and companies that remote working can and should be more prominent. I am hopeful that the shift that companies have made during the pandemic and events of 2020 will elevate cultures and mindsets to be more flexible and accommodating. The world and the average worker have changed dramatically since the industrial age, and I think work schedules should too.
I am hopeful that remote work will be more ingrained in company cultures to the extent that all employees will understand some of the pressures and nuances of working remotely. In turn, this will create more empathy when working with co-located or remote peers. We all have a lot to learn from this year’s events and my hope is that we advance to a higher level of empathy, understanding, and adaptability rather than regressing to the old ways of doing things.