Consultant Spotlight: Steven Waters
Looking to achieve success in a remote environment? Kforce Consultant Steven Waters shares how to make the most out of working from home. Learn about his journey as a fully remote contractor and why he is passionate about his craft in our consultant spotlight.
How did you get started as a Kforce contractor?
I was in the market for a new opportunity and Kforce reached out to me because of my previous experience in ChangeGear. When I saw the position, I knew I would be a good fit. I wanted to focus on more development, and this was an opportunity to do so at a Fortune 200 company.
Can you describe your current role as a ChangeGear Developer Consultant?
I help develop workflows, forms and other components for my client’s ChangeGear environment. My role involves consulting on work pertaining to ChangeGear development, attending daily standup meetings, careful project planning and staying organized.
What drives your passion for your craft?
I’ve always enjoyed designing graphics, which inspired me to dive head-first into the world of web development. I first started using programs like Microsoft FrontPage until someone recommended that I learn how to code from scratch. That advice led me to discover more about coding by hand.
I read a book called “Designing with Web Standards” by Jeffrey Zeldman, which was a game-changer. It taught me the importance of compliant code, UI and UX. I soon studied other areas of web development, such as server-side development, which exposed me to more industry professionals.
I’ve wanted to give presentations on web development and contribute to the web development community ever since.
Can you describe your top tips for achieving success as a consultant?
Always be prepared, especially before meetings. Also, stay on top of projects, communicate with your team and document your work. I have received a lot of kudos lately for my documentation in a tracking and project management software called Jira.
As a fully remote consultant, how do you communicate efficiently with your coworkers?
I do my best to document my work thoroughly. In fact, I take a lot of pride in doing that. I like to break down my documentation into bullet points and other types of lists, so it is easier to consume through Jira and email.
Documenting your work is crucial when you’re remote.
The technology for efficient remote work is out there. Having a screenshot tool like Greenshot is vital when it comes to describing issues and sharing them with your team. I would research apps such as Slack, Trello and Airtable to help with overall communication.
Having a mobile phone with good reception and a Bluetooth headset to pair with it is beneficial as well. I prefer to join meetings by phone instead of joining by computer audio to minimize audio feedback. Also, I mute myself when someone else is speaking to eliminate background noise.
What words of wisdom would you share with others for remaining productive in a remote setting?
Invest in good office equipment, such as an ergonomic chair, keyboard, dual monitors and a desk. I would also try to find a clean and quiet designated workspace to define boundaries between home and work. Another piece of advice is always to take lunches! I prefer to take my lunch breaks outside because it’s an excellent excuse to get fresh air.
Also, I would recommend staying in constant contact with your team. Call your coworkers, especially when you need clarification on requirements. I find that it is better to pick up the phone and call someone instead of exchanging dozens of emails. During times like COVID-19, don’t be afraid to call them out of the blue just to catch up.
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when working from home?
It’s still a 9-to-5 job! Establishing a work-life balance is a must because it’s too easy to work long hours when you’re already at home. Create a daily schedule such as performing your morning routine and taking the appropriate amount of time for breaks to separate work from home.
Do you have any hobbies outside of work?
I love trying out new restaurants and breweries. Unfortunately, COVID-19 doesn’t allow me to do that. For now, I go for long walks outside, enjoy nature and play games with my family until we get through this.
Can you describe your overall experience as a consultant with Kforce?
My current position has been such a rewarding experience for me. This is my first contract position and I have been extremely satisfied with Kforce’s level of service since I started working on my assignment in July 2019. I have worked with other staffing agencies in the past, but only on a direct-hire basis. Kforce excels at services such as payroll, health benefits and job counseling.
It’s clear that Kforce truly cares about the well-being of their employees.
What three insights would you share for people considering consultant work?
- Be a team player. Go into a new work environment with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and receive feedback from existing employees. Being a team player sometimes means compromising and meeting others halfway to keep the project moving forward.
- Do your research. It’s important to research a task before starting it, so you are fully prepared with the right requirements. However, it can be challenging to discuss requirements through Jira and email. That is when verbal communication becomes necessary.
- Have strong communication skills. Verbal communication is essential, especially when the role requires daily standups. Communicate clearly about what you worked on and any challenges that you might face. One of the best things about my job is that I can get the support that I need when encountering a technical challenge.