Work-From-Home Success Story: Magda Walczak
Magda Walczack is the Chief Customer Officer at Search Party, a recruitment marketplace that connects employers, recruiters and job seekers. She’s originally from Poland and went to Loyola University in Chicago for her B.A. and the Australian Graduate School of Management for her MBA. She’s a passionate supporter of animal rights and author of Saylor’s Tale, a children’s book promoting responsible pet ownership.
1) How did you get started working from home?
A few years ago I decided to try my hand at freelancing. When I came across good projects in other cities, I realized that flying back and forth every few days wasn’t great on my health so I agreed with my clients to do some work from home and some from their office. The arrangement worked well so I that’s how I started working with future clients too.
About two years ago I started a full time job. My company, Search Party, was based in Australia while I’m based in Chicago. Since by that time I’d had a couple years of working from home under my belt, I was confident that I could be successful in a permanent remote role as well. Nearly two years in, it’s working well for both me and my employer.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I’ve always been in marketing and that’s what I still do. My career focus hasn’t changed because of working from home – my daily routine has.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
The first thing to get right when working from home is your mindset. It’s still work – you’re just not at the office. It’s easy to forget when you’re in the comfort of home, with all its distractions.
Next, it’s important to sent up a work area. I don’t necessarily work from my desk (I’m writing this response sitting on my couch, for example), but I have a spot in the house that’s dedicated to work. If I need to refocus, the “office” helps me do that.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
The first client found me, actually. I had left my full time job and was approached about a new role. I wasn’t ready to commit, so I agreed to a short term contract instead. I liked the flexibility it gave me so that’s what I continued doing. Other clients after that came from networking or referrals.
5) How do you market your business?
I have a permanent role, so I no longer have a need to market my business. When I was freelancing, however, networking and doing a good job for a client were the only two things I did. Nothing speaks louder than good work. Happy, satisfied clients will refer you to others.
6) What does your usual day look like?
I take full advantage of the fact that I work from home. That is, I don’t work in a straight block and then put away my computer. I break up my day into chunks – 2-3 hours of work, 1 hour of non-work. The actual chunks vary here and there, but going through several cycles like this means I have long periods of absolute focus on work with breaks that let me cook a meal or walk my dog. In the end, I end up working more hours than I would in one straight chunk, but my day feels more balanced and I feel happier as a result.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
That it’s actually pretty tough working from home, especially if you’re on a team. I frequently feel disconnected and I have to make an extra effort to stay on top projects. There’s no benefit of running into someone on a lunch break or overhearing a conversation. You rely on your phone and email and a lot of subcontext gets lost in the process. I love working from home and feel lucky to be able to do it, but it’s definitely not easy and it’s not for everyone.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from
Make sure you know why you’re doing it. If you think it’ll be easier, it’s not. If you do it to work less, you’re wrong. It gives you freedom and flexibility, but it can actually be harder and more demanding than working from an office so just be prepared for that.
Website: Search Party
Facebook: Search Party