When it comes to remote working, I have always been a bit of a hybrid. Starting when my children were born, I’ve lived somewhere in between being an office worker and a remote worker. Early in my career (20+ years ago!), working from home wasn’t very common. In fact, to work remotely one day a week, I pretty much had to keep it a secret, as if as others would find out, they too might ‘catch the WFH bug’.
As time went on, I would make the decision on whether to go into the office or not based on what my day looked like — letting my calendar dictate where I felt I would be most successful at achieving the day’s goals. Sometimes, that meant a quieter space at home for a day of focused productivity. Other times, a trip to the office for collaboration-heavy days was in order. I very much liked the idea of controlling my destiny on any given day — knowing that if I stayed focused on my daily goals, I would walk away feeling accomplished (something important for those of us with Type A personalities).
A New Kind of Stay at Home Parent
Family circumstances never seem to fail throwing curveballs. Raising twins, who both played multiple sports, and a husband who has survived cancer twice, resulted in too many mom-is-needed-now moments to count. The obligation and desire to be present with my family when they needed me necessitated the flexibility of remote working — sometimes in the most interesting of places (Pro Tip: Wi-Fi in hospital basements is actually pretty good). Thank goodness for the technology that enabled me to stay connected wherever life or work took me!
How WFH Has Improved My life
Leap forward to today, where a family decision to relocate has resulted in my being a dedicated remote worker. It was odd to pack-up the many-years-worth of mementos stored in my office cube, and in some ways, I did feel like I was leaving something behind. However, what I’ve gained in return has exceeded my expectations…by far.
Let’s start with the tangible gains. I no longer put 60-90 miles on my car for the daily drive (that’s an annual equivalent of 9,000-18,000 miles!). I no longer spend 90-180 minutes commuting daily through Bay Area traffic (that’s 150-600 hours per year back in my life!). I can’t really calculate the impact on my carbon footprint, but I feel pretty good about that aspect of leaving the commute behind. What’s more, I have dramatically cut down on coffee drive-thru and café swing-through meal expenses as well (at $10/day, somewhere around $1,500-2,000 per year).
But truly, it’s the intangible benefits that I feel the most. First of all, my productivity levels are going through the roof, seemingly working fewer total hours and getting more accomplished. I love being able to shut down when I’m done working for the day instead of rushing home to beat traffic, only to get back online to finish something up. Now, my calendar is more frequently open for 1:1s and smaller group discussions, creating space for more collaboration. Now, I treat my time in the office with more intention, just like any other business trip.
Are there things I’ve learned along the way? Certainly. Let’s dive into the three things that in my experience, will make your life as a remote or flex worker as seamless as possible.
Three Key Learnings on Remote Work
Lesson 1: Set Yourself Up for Success
First, make sure that you have the right technology to maximize your virtual collaboration environment. As a remote worker, I am able to actively participate in virtual meetings, using many of our Poly products. My Voyager 6200 UC headset makes it easy for me to switch between my laptop meetings and mobile phone calls. I love the way that the EagleEye Mini USB camera and the Calisto 620 speakerphone make me feel like I’m in the room with my colleagues. Add Microsoft Teams, Skype, RealPresence, and Zoom, and I have everything I need to work and collaborate throughout my day.
Lesson 2: Trust is a Must
Second, remember that the root of success is trust. I am thankful to have had managers throughout my career who recognized that I could manage my time well and be present in either camp well enough to stay on top of my commitments. If you’re looking to break new ground with a flexible work setup or a fully remote setup, make sure that you deliver on your promises and demonstrate that that trust is well founded!
Lesson 3: Put Effort into Staying Connected
Third, you will have to work harder to stay connected – but it can be done. I’ve found new ways to stay connected to my team and our extended team that used to happen organically in hallway walks between meetings – now I am intentional about checking in and finding time to talk about stuff, not just my check list. I am deliberate, too, about offering to contribute in more areas where I can add value, because I might not be aware of a “rush situation” that I might otherwise see in person.
Now that I am living the dream, I’m making a point of giving feedback on what it’s like to be a remote worker to our product teams so that we can continue to make new innovative products that cater to remote working workstyles. As they say, ‘a happy worker is a productive, committed, loyal, goes-above-and-beyond worker’. You can count me among the converted.