Remote Career Development: Chris Eigeland Of Go1 On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely
An Interview With David Liu
To establish better work-life boundaries, share a fixed schedule with managers and colleagues and create solid blocks of time on your calendar to reinforce the agreed upon schedule. The benefit of the remote work environment means that these blocks can be at different times in the day, and I now block off time on a morning to run errands or have a late breakfast with my family to instead work later that day.
Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Eigeland.
Chris Eigeland is CRO and co-founder at Go1, the world’s largest e-learning platform and hub for corporate education, where he is responsible for global revenue attainment, including sales function management, and maintaining relationships with partners and affiliates. He obtained a degree in Law and International Relations from Griffith University, and represented Australia at the United Nations General Assembly in 2016, as a National Commissioner for UNESCO, and worked in constitutional law in the UK and South Africa.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?
My ‘backstory’ is filled with twists and turns, and I never expected to be running an education technology platform. When I graduated secondary school, I created my own degree at an arts college in Australia, focusing on theme park design (a mix of industrial and graphic design). So, my first job was designing rides for an Australian theme park while I was still studying. Much to the chagrin of my friends and family who were loving the free theme park tickets, I swapped my area of study to Law, focusing on human rights and constitutional law. I was fascinated by how narratives and stories can be used to protect individuals rights. During this period, I ended up in Haiti after the tragic earthquake in 2011, and witnessed the role of education organizations in rebuilding school infrastructure, training the next generation of teachers and reaching students in remote communities. And how incredibly difficult it all was. This sparked my deep interest in the education sector and the power of technology to enable accessible educational opportunities. This marked the beginning of the Go1 journey.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’m extremely lucky to have a career that has taken me to many different locations to work alongside incredible people. However, my time in Haiti was formative in shaping my perspective on education equity and solidifying it as an area that I wanted to focus on. At the time, I was looking at a related problem: physical education supplies and how to distribute them to remote communities in the wake of a natural disaster. The sheer dedication of the team around me was inspiring. They were finding innovative ways to reach remote schools hours away from the nearest major road.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There are too many to choose from! But one that will always stay with me is from the early days of Go1. We had a system error for one of our first enterprise customers. This customer had configured their Go1 system to show the final date of employment on their user profile (used to automatically deactivate accounts). Unfortunately, our early technology errored, and the ‘final day of employment’ was changed to the current date. So, all of their hundreds of employees believed they were about to be terminated. I had a few angry calls that night but it was also a good lesson on how to recover from an incident because that customer stayed with us for many years.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m a big fan of the work of Pippa Grange, who was the psychologist for the Australian swimming team as well as a number of British football clubs, amongst others. Pippa focused on the difference between ‘winning shallow’ and ‘winning deep.’ Where winning shallow focuses on achieving a goal for largely extrinsic reasons (prestige, fame, etc.), winning deep focuses on achieving a goal aligned with intrinsic values. In a high-growth environment like Go1, I’ve found this framework extremely helpful. I often ask myself, “Is the next growth goal that I’m setting based on a reason that isn’t healthy? Or am I setting personal and organizational goals because they align with my values and inspire greater organizational impact?”
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?
Like many others, in the last 18 months I have struggled with work-life balance in a remote work environment. I’ve found it too easy to ‘take that early meeting’ and just roll out of bed into the home office, and not emerge until 12 hours later. This blending of home and work has re-emphasized that company culture consists of more than happy hours and free lunches. Now, more than ever, I believe that organizations have an increased role in authentically recognizing team contributions, promoting values-based community through connection and supporting a deeper sense of fulfillment aligned with product and growth goals of the organization. As such, senior leadership sets the cultural tone by ensuring that company-wide communication is open and inclusive. We need to ask — are there designated channels and opportunities for employees to voice concerns, to support each other, to share learnings and successes, to activate new initiatives? At the managerial level, are there regular check-ins focused equally on tasks and goals, discussions around flexible work options, reminders about wellness breaks and PTO hours to encourage work-life balance? And are individual team members being supported in their own career and skill development goals? These activities are now foundational.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?
A prime benefit of the shift to remote and hybrid work is that it embraces a diverse workforce; one with varying styles, needs, skill sets, schedules and much more. It becomes an equalizer between introverts and extroverts, leadership and staff, recent hires and veterans. it flattens some of the hierarchical inaccessibility that existed in organizations. Employees also feel a sense of autonomy in how they can design their workday or week to accommodate other priorities, and this strengthens agility, empathy and trust within and between teams. Also, since the digital workplace is now a universally shared experience, there’s an ubiquitous understanding of benefits and challenges associated with this new way of working.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
- It’s very easy for the boundaries between our professional and personal lives to blur in a remote work model. The workday often extends beyond standard office hours into an “always on” commitment, and that creates greater anxiety, frustration and disengagement.
- The heavy reliance on multiple digital tools and systems to create, collaborate, communicate can become overwhelming and (in combination with the devices and apps we use outside of work) can lead to exhaustion.
- Over the past two years of social distancing, we’ve learned the significance of human connection to our wellbeing. And the physical workplace is one of those essential communal spaces for face-to-face interactions, spontaneous conversations, etc., so it’s been difficult to capture that synergy in the virtual workplace.
- With the WFH set-up came the inevitable distractions: pets, kids, partners, roommates as well as dishes, laundry, bills and much more. Achieving sustained focus to complete work tasks and more involved projects continues to be a challenge.
- Reneging on professional development plans by hyperfocusing on day-to-day assignments is a common mistake made by remote workers. This will eventually lead to a sense of stagnation and lack of fulfillment.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
- To establish better work-life boundaries, share a fixed schedule with managers and colleagues and create solid blocks of time on your calendar to reinforce the agreed upon schedule. The benefit of the remote work environment means that these blocks can be at different times in the day, and I now block off time on a morning to run errands or have a late breakfast with my family to instead work later that day.
- At the end of the day, log out of work-related apps and sites to “turn off” work but also take intermittent (device-less) breaks throughout the day. When on PTO, completely unplug to refresh your perspective on work. That Slack ‘vacationing’ status emoji has never been more valuable!
- Take part in company-hosted virtual gatherings (happy hours, brainstorms, L&D events, ERG activities), stay informed on company happenings (via e-newsletters, social media handles, company-wide meetings), etc. to stay connected to your colleagues and the organizational culture at large. We introduced a new volunteering policy at Go1, and while it is often done virtually, sharing of the volunteering experiences among colleagues has been important for our culture.
- Determine your peak energy cycles and find dedicated times and work spaces to optimize focused work by minimizing distractions. I know that personally for me, between 8am and 11am is when I’m most energized, so I try to keep that clear for focused work.
- Meet with your manager for monthly reviews of your growth plan and weave in relevant skilling and learning opportunities to make goals tangible and measurable.
Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?
In this world of abundant online notifications and digital content, it can be hard to prioritize and champion your own career development. I know I find it difficult, at the end of a long day, to sit down and complete a piece of learning, or jump into a different project. I’m a big believer that diversity of career and leadership experience is critical to future success; found both within and without your organization. The starting point, however, can be your organization’s own L&D programs, to target specific new skill development. Additionally, moving outside of your comfort zone into a mentor role, an employee committee, or something like a creative pursuit can be incredibly valuable in furthering your perspectives and development.
Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?
In the fast paced, remote/hybrid environment, even the most well-intentioned managers can fall into the patterns of hyperfocusing on the tactical day-to-day. I know I have! This is exacerbated by digital fatigue and the tendency to shift to immediate actions while on a video call versus holding a deeper conversation. Managers need to directly connect with individual members of their teams to develop custom learning plans that are segmented into short-term versus long-term skill building. Short term this may look like an L&D opportunity based on identified skill gaps or leading a cross-functional project. Long term this could look like opportunities to engage with internal and external mentors to stretch into a more senior role. More broadly, incentivizing or gamifying learning through competitive prizes, themed group trainings, dedicated learning weeks, virtual brown bag lunches, company-wide “shout-outs” genuinely inspire collective interest.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
While it may sound cliche, I genuinely believe that education is the most impactful lever that we have to inspire people and improve lives. Accessible, affordable, targeted and high-quality learning opportunities are critical to equalizing the playing field for the future workforce, and enabling everyone to participate in a meaningful way. Most of my formative experiences were in global agencies such as the United Nations, and this DNA is embedded in Go1 through the mission to unlock positive potential through a love for learning. The world is rapidly changing, and there is much for individuals to consider regarding market shifts, political-social shifts, technological shifts. So, the leadership team and I are dedicated to making corporate education as accessible, affordable and empowering as possible to be seen as mission critical for every organization — small or large, local or global. We have witnessed the ripple effect of “The Great Resignation” across industries and sectors, so there is a keen opportunity for learning to be at the center of the corporate community.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find Go1’s insights and perspectives on L&D for the modern worker at https://www.go1.com/en-au/.
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.