Job Roles Of The Future: Meet Alessandro Montalto, Remote Work Coach
Today we’re introducing you to Alessandro Montalto – a remote work coach based in Antwerp, Belgium, who helps remote workers and companies all over the world.
Specifically, Alessando helps individuals and organizations create the most burnout-free, structured, connected and productive remote work life. He’s been working remotely for more than 15 years and knows from his own experience how easy it is to burn out as well as lose productivity and efficiency.
So what’s the secret to a healthy remote lifestyle? Let’s find out!
Hi Alessando, thanks for taking the time for a short interview with Native Teams. What can you tell us about yourself?
I am Alessandro, an Italian guy living in Belgium. I moved from academia to remote work coaching after experiencing a huge burnout and depression. I have always studied and worked remotely. Thus, I can safely say that I have lived a remote lifestyle for more than 15 years now. I love the freedom that remote work gives. I don’t have to stress out about going to bed when I am not sleepy because I am afraid not to be productive the day after while I attend a way-too-early meeting that someone arranged without even asking my opinion. I love being free in devoting time to my family and friends whenever they really need me. I would hate telling them “I have to work, I don’t have time for you now, but maybe we can talk in a few hours”.
You’re working as a remote work coach and have been working remotely for more than 15 years already. How and why did you transition to working remotely?
I never really transitioned to working remotely since I have always studied and then worked remotely. I never attended courses at the university. I had my quiet room, my books and I fully immersed myself into studying. I remember going to the university to socialize, ask questions to professors and take the exams. I got so used to the freedom of studying wherever I wanted that I couldn’t compromise any more. I had the opportunity to work in a team on several projects over the years and I now live and breathe remote work. I am fully aware of the challenges remote work brings and how to overcome them.
Remote work coach – that’s quite a new profession, wouldn’t you say? With the increasing number of remote workers, will we likely see an increase of similar coaches?
I think that remote work coaches are really needed! Remote workers and companies need to rely on professional human-centric help, not only on some software. Soft skills like communication, unplugging, active listening and remote teamwork can’t be honed by using an app. They need some deep investigation, compassion and professional guidance. My dream is to have a team of remote work coaches who are passionate about teaching and guiding people to become awesome remote workers and leaders.
Work culture has seen a big shift to remote work in recent years, especially during the pandemic. Many companies have already announced they will keep on working remotely even after all the precautions are over. How do you feel about this shift?
I am 100% an advocate of this shift. As I say in this YouTube video, I truly believe in the power of remote work in creating a new kind of society where people are more compassionate, patient, healthy and in touch with nature. Unfortunately, what I see is remote workers still struggling to fully embrace remote work. To overcome that, a shift in mentality, not only in location, is needed. And to make that shift, encouragement and professional guidance is often required, but there is still a stigma around asking help from a coach. In my experience, reaching out for emotional, psychological and physical help is still seen as a sign of weakness. Remote workers who reach out to me are people who are already in burnout or headed there faster than they thought. If they reached out to me a couple of months before, they could deal with it much faster, saving a lot of energy. The company will in turn save a lot of money and gain in productivity…if they only reached out before. So, on the one hand I feel very happy about this shift toward remote work. On the other hand, I feel worried that remote work might not be done right with big consequences on people’s well-being.
Where do you see remote work progressing to in the future, where do you think it is heading to?
Apparently, the emerging trend is hybrid. I have my doubts about it, but only time can say whether it will be a healthy and productive way to work. I personally prefer well-defined solutions, like either full time at the office or full time remotely. A hybrid solution can be very tricky since the dynamics of meeting people in person are very different from the remote one. I am worried that a hybrid solution might bring even more confusion and unbalance. But, as I said, we have to wait and test it. I will be happy to help companies build an amazing, thriving culture, either hybrid or fully remote.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of working remotely full time?
I think that the main pros of remote work is what people usually tend to overlook or even consider as a curse: being by yourself. It might sound weird but being by yourself is usually a blessing because it encourages you to reconsider and improve the way you communicate, structure your day, prioritize, connect and to truly value time. The main cons of remote work is the lack of “human factor” that makes interactions more challenging. That’s why I created a simple framework to counterbalance that lack of human factor to create a healthier, more productive and less draining remote culture.
What are the most important things to pay attention to when working remotely?
I think there are mainly five areas every remote worker needs to pay attention to in order to create the most burnout-free, connected, structured and productive remote work life.
- Team player mentality
- Visibility for a career advancement
- Work-life integration
There are several things that remote workers can do to take care of these areas, nurturing them and staying healthy. I am talking about them in detail on my youtube channel. The common thread that connects these areas is unveiling our values and vision. Consequently, remote workers understand which added value they bring to themselves, their remote team and the clients they are serving. Once the added value is clear, two amazing things happen. The first is that unplugging becomes easier, unlocking more free time to relax and be creative, sparking healthy behaviours. The second amazing thing is that a sense of belonging and meaning washes over you since you now connect with your team on a deeper level. Having belonging and meaning in your life is the best way to keep burnout at bay and be happy.
What kind of daily routine works the best for you?
I only take care of one basic routine: sleeping well. Sleeping for 8 to 9 hours per night is so important, as Dr Matthew Walker amazingly explains in his book Why We Sleep, that my collateral routines are developed to have an amazing quality sleep. What I practically do is the following:
- I go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day.
- I never turn my pc or phone on first thing in the morning. Instead, I first take my time to wake up, get out of the bed, sip my morning beverage (absolutely not coffee) and then I turn my devices on.
- I exercise every day. It can range from doing stretching to taking a walk of one or more hours to playing padel. The important thing is to move.
- I turn my pc and phone off at least two hours before going to sleep.
- I have a technology-free day on Sunday, meaning that I switch my phone and pc off on Saturday evening and I switch them on again on Monday morning, no matter what.
- Every evening, before going to sleep, my wife and I devote 15 minutes of careful and non-interacting attention to each other. When she talks about how she feels and how her day was, I just listen and she knows that I won’t say anything. I will keep a poker face to distract her as little as possible allowing her thoughts and feelings to flow undisturbed. Then, we switch roles. This is an amazing exercise to “dump” all the stress accumulated during the day.
- I read a relaxing novel before going to sleep, nothing thrilling or too exciting.
All these habits make me sleep amazingly well. I wake up rested and I can be productive and focused the whole day without effort. I talk about the importance of sleeping and the “dumping” exercise more in detail in my video course for remote workers – remote work done right.
How do you stay productive and motivated during your workdays?
I am constantly aware of what my vision is. In order to stay motivated and productive, I need to know that what I am doing matters. Once I developed my vision, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I can easily share it with other people, resonating and connecting with them on a deeper level.
Last but not least, what would you recommend to someone who wants to transition to remote working?
Sure, I would give every remote worker a piece of advice: be curious and kind towards yourself, other people, and your inner world. Curiosity and kindness open our heart, soul, and mind. That openness makes true acceptance of ourselves, others, and life possible. Only via acceptance, can we build a remote society that can harvest the benefits of working remotely.
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