Planetary Perspectives: Dagobert Renouf

By Helen Chen, 20 July, 2018

Meet the Planetary team! We’re a team of multidisciplinary designers and developers spread out across 3 times zones and 4 countries. Despite having a dispersed team, we come together and build awesome products while having fun, and we want to share our insights!

Each week, the series Planetary Perspectives will feature an interview with a team member on their experiences of working remotely, building productivity, and maintaining work–life balance.

Art by Lauren Kim

Where are you currently working from right now?

Home office in Lille, France.

How long have you been at Planetary and what is your role?

I’ve been here for a bit over a year, as a front-end developer.

Please share an interesting and unusual fact/hobby about yourself.

I have 8 different middle names, they don’t even fit on my ID. Always a good icebreaker at airports.

What’s your secret talent?

I look like I’m on top of everything even when I’m not 😅

On Working Remotely:

What was transitioning to working remotely like for you? What did you love, stress over, and learn in those first few weeks?

I’ve been a consultant for a while prior to working at Planetary, so I was used to setting my own goals and schedule. Still, it was a challenge to do that as part of a remote team, since I wasn’t getting the same feedback that I would have gotten in person. I couldn’t tell if the other team members liked me or not, or if they thought I was any good. That was unsettling.

What traits do you think are important for someone who works remotely?

You need to be able to manage yourself. You need to know how to get stuff done even without someone to refer to constantly.

How do you create your most productive environment to work in?

Initially, I was working on an old MacBook Pro and moving around the apartment based on my mood. After a while, my back was hurting and I was frustrated with not having a dedicated spot. I grew tired of it and invested in an actual desk, with a top of the line iMac, as well as a nice chair to improve my posture. I feel much more comfortable that way and I don’t have to figure out how I’m gonna setup every day. I can just get to work (and my back stopped hurting!)

What do you think Planetary does well in regard to having a dispersed team?

I think we’re really good at connecting as people, not just workers. Most of the time in Slack (our go to internal chat app), people just talk about fun things they’re doing outside of work.

“There’s always a nice discussion you can jump in to talk about something else for a while.”

I still haven’t worked with half of the team (as different skills are needed on a per project basis) but I know and appreciate them already thanks to that.

In managing/working in a remote team, what are some things you implement to promote team-building?

The number one thing for me is to support other team members when they need help. I try to be as reactive and helpful as possible whenever someone gets lost or can’t figure something out.

What’s your weirdest/most interesting video conference experience?

Last year, the team was at a retreat in Colorado, which I couldn’t attend. We did a video meeting where I was the only one actually on video, and everybody else was looking at me from around the table. That was weird and fun 🙂

How has living in different places or working with teammates from different places informed your role as a designer/developer/project manager?

It has given me more appreciation for the different lifestyles that people have. When working with others, I tend to be pretty demanding. Seeing how people have vastly different lives and approaches to problem solving than me has made me relax way more.

Thanks to Karyn Lawrence.