How to Live Your Best Remote Work Life

June 18, 2020

Not many homes can fit a 10,000-square-foot office complex in their spare bedroom. 

Replicating office culture at home might be impossible, but that doesn’t mean remote employees can’t make the most of telework. Remote managers working in Seattle tech shared with Built In how a few practices can transform any space into a productive zone.

Small rituals, like meditation or a brisk walk, help bookend the workday, they said. These practices are meant to replace the office commute and allow employees to switch “on” and “off” of work mode. Creating a work-life balance is essential to avoiding burnout, they added. 

Miss quick chats with co-workers? Turning on video during calls and participating in Slack channels help improve communication, while scheduling time to meet one-on-one with peers and participating in team happy hours help employees feel less isolated. 

While maintaining an office of one requires discipline in order to maximize productivity, it has its benefits, too. 

 

Jennifer McNiel
Senior Client Success Manager

Jennifer McNiel said she takes 10 minutes of “me time” at the beginning and end of her workday at e-commerce optimization platform Ideoclick. A brisk walk, yoga or a cup of coffee help her switch from “senior client success manager” to “mom” and vice versa. 

 

How long have you worked remotely, and what drew you to this type of role?

I have been working remotely full-time for three months due to COVID-19. However, while working in the e-commerce field for over 12 years, I have had the flexibility to work from home as needed. I’m attracted to the comfort of a home office, increased productivity and fewer interruptions than I experienced in an office environment. I save time by not commuting and spend less time away from my family. My company has provided us with all the tools and resources we need to make our home office setup efficient and comfortable.

I’m attracted to the comfort of a home office.”

 

What’s the one thing you do everyday that has the biggest positive impact on your work as a remote employee? 

Setting aside a little “me time.” Once I began working remotely full time, I realized that my daily commute to and from the office was the only time of the day that I had to myself, which I would use to decompress and transition between work and family. Now that my wife, kids and I are all quarantined at home together, we’ve had to make adjustments in order to achieve any semblance of balance.  

Now, I wake up first before anyone else in the home, make some coffee, sit on the back porch and make a mental checklist for the day. When the kids wake up, I make breakfast and get them ready for the day before heading to my office nook. I take a quick 10-minute break for yoga or a brisk walk outside before joining my family for lunch and at the end of my workday. This has helped me to mentally transition between work and family more smoothly in order to be a more effective, happy employee and mom.  

 

What’s the most important lesson you've learned about remote work?

Stay connected with fellow co-workers and offer each other support by keeping open lines of communication. Responding to emails and instant messages in a timely manner lets them know you are available and that they are valued and appreciated. Once we began working from home due to COVD-19, my team has had daily video calls where we each talk through our priorities, wins and challenges as well as share good recipes or pet and kid stories. 

Our company has a weekly all-hands Zoom meeting to get business updates followed by a social happy hour. We’ve added channels for the team to stay remotely connected, such as a group for moms, foodies, pet owners, charity and virtual yoga. We’ve all had a glimpse into each other’s home lives and have gotten to know each other on a more personal level, which makes us more invested in each other and reminds us that ultimately, we are all humans with good intentions.

 

Erin Lopez
Senior Manager, Claims Support

Erin Lopez, a senior manager of claims support, always leaves the camera on when taking calls with co-workers at pet medical insurance company Trupanion. Visibility allows her team to feel supported and makes it easy to collaborate on projects. Video chats also help ease feelings of isolation when working remotely. 

 

How long have you worked remotely, and what drew you to this type of role?

I worked onsite from 2014 to 2017 as a manager before working remotely. I stayed in that role for several more years, and at the time, there were only a handful of remote managers. To be honest, I didn’t think working from home was for me but I put in the request so I could live with my partner, who was going through his post-grad program in another state. I am thankful that my director approved my request because it has allowed me to have a better work-life balance.

 

What’s the one thing you do everyday that has the biggest positive impact on your work as a remote employee? 

I try to stick to a morning routine as much as I can prior to logging on. I make sure to set 30-45 minutes aside so I can get my first sips of coffee uninterrupted, get dressed and mentally prepare for the workday. There are definitely mornings when I’ve rolled out of bed five minutes before logging on and I see a huge difference in how productive and relaxed I am on those days.

Build strong relationships with co-workers.”  

 

What’s the most important lesson you've learned about remote work?

Build strong relationships with co-workers. From the start of the mandatory work-from-home orders, I set time aside to sync with peers from multiple departments and my team via video chats so that we could work on projects or simply catch up. 

By staying as visible as I could, my team continued to feel the same support as when I was onsite and my peers continued to reach out to me to work on initiatives and projects with them. It also helped my feelings of isolation since I was able to stay connected with my co-workers on a more personal level.

 

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