Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: Change in Plans

Remember the time when that weekly all-hands-on-deck meeting got kicked out of the conference room because someone else decided they were more important? You and your ten other colleagues scramble to find a quiet spot in the break room until someone comes in and makes popcorn just as the group begins discussing something important.

Being agile in your work environment is no different, whether you are in an office or working remotely from home. A perfect example, is happening in real life to me, this week. After taking a long weekend to spend time with family in our Nation's Capital, we returned home to news of a death in our family. After talking it out, we decided that driving was the best option. Although lengthy, the cost of the last minute flight was simply too much.

I had planned on working from my desk at home or even walking over to the nearest Starbucks, where I know the corner is quiet, and the internet is reliable. Now I am subject to unknown conditions when I arrive at the hotel and particularly unsure of what my schedule will look like for the rest of the week. Will I need to take more time off from work or can I manage to be present, both in terms of family and work? As of late, I've become pretty good at expecting the unexpected and working through it. However, sometimes, I push the limit of what's acceptable.

Here are some things to remember when your work environment isn't what you planned:

Always have a backup - Don't leave yourself with merely one option. If you think you can have a call in a quiet location at an unfamiliar place but aren't sure when guests may arrive, make sure your car is also nearby, it works as a great last-minute spot to find quiet and get the job done.

Never rely on just wifi - In most cases for general computing needs, a generic internet connection will be just fine. But if you're working on a more vital task, say a presentation or a conference bridge, always have a mobile hotspot ready. If you have a modern smartphone, you already have this feature. 90% of the time, the internet connection from your phone will be 10-20x faster than some public wifi connections, especially in hotels or coffee shops. Plus, public wifi connections are known to be insecure and leaves your connect open to malicious actors.

Get a good headset - Noise canceling headphones are a great way to create your own private office no matter where you are. These types of headphones will help you focus and get the job done.

Don't be afraid to reschedule & always use a planner - If it's an informal meeting, don't hesitate to pick a time that's better for you. Most people would do this regardless of where they were working that day anyhow, especially if they were "swamped" with tasks to complete. My favorite planner was created by CNCPTS. It’s a weekly planner and notebook designed for business.

— Daddy West

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Bring your power - These days most airports, coffee shops and hotel lobbies have upped their game in an effort to make it easier to charge our devices. But sitting on the floor against the wall in an airport terminal is not that appealing. I always carry two charging options with me. The first is my Mophie USB-C 3XL. It can charge my MacBook and iPhone simultaneously. The other is conveniently located inside my Away Suitcase (click here for $20 off your first purchase). They have it tucked in just under the handle so I can charge my phone while waiting for my flight.

Give yourself time - If you are the type that needs at least five minutes to get settled before a meeting or a call when in an unknown working environment double the amount of time you need. Try doing a test call with a colleague to make sure everything is working properly ahead of time.

Finally, while I believe there is nothing wrong with working remotely, keep in mind many people still think that it's a terrible idea. Background noise to you may be nothing, but to someone on a call, it may be incredibly distracting. Use good judgment when taking your phone off mute, and remember to get in the habit of muting when not talking.

All of this might sound like a lot of extra work to make sure your workday is productive, but once you get the hang of it, and know your limits, you will find it freeing and more enjoyable than an awful commute to the office everyday.