Working Remotely

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

Check them out here for yourself and use discount code DADDYANDPAPA for 15% off your order!

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.

Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: The Beginning

For years, I have spent most of my working adult life in some capacity as a remote work employee. My commutes have generally been pretty mild, although once in a while there is a hold up at the coffee pot. My journey started years ago when I took my first real office job. Working from home was just a "thing" most people thought was simply a way to "take advantage" of a situation. In the years since with the tech boom and race to get the smartest, and the brightest employees, companies have had to rethink their thoughts on where an employee is most comfortable working.

Working from home is NOT, and I repeat NOT for everyone.
— Daddy West

The average person when asked what they think about working from home, will likely think of pajamas, lounging around the house and not getting as much done as you would if you were in an office environment. What most people aren't aware of when given the option to work remotely is how much of an adjustment it takes to go from an office setting to working and being productive where ever you want. Plus, it just might not be the right fit for everyone.

On my first day working from home, I was excited. It was probably a bit of nervousness soaked in caffeine and freshly showered wet hair. It felt great for a few minutes until I needed to start working, but had a question. I went to stand up as if I were going to walk over to a colleague and suddenly remembered I wasn't in the office anymore! I would dig through my notes, try to ask Google for the right answer when all of a sudden the buzzing of the dryer would interrupt the solitude most people think of when working from home.

I then thought to myself, "can I fold laundry on this upcoming conference call?"

Week two went by in a flash as I slowly started to figure out what worked best in my new workspace. I began to realize that I was working a lot more than I expected, likely because of that insatiable need to check emails (on my work computer) while binge-watching the latest Netflix drama.

Week three arrived, and I began to feel like something was missing; something was not right. It's still difficult to describe just how that felt, but it's a feeling that soon thereafter subsided because in a flash I had finally found a rhythm and it seemed so natural.

That was my first three weeks. After ten years of working remotely, my employer suddenly changed, and it was time to go back into an office. At this point, I've become used to the mundane noises around the house, but even with tenure, getting back into an office environment would make any person feel like a rookie. I was no different.

Remembering that the weekly conference call is at the same time the garbage truck stops just outside my window and hitting mute on my phone finally became a habit.
— Daddy West

In the coming months, as we start our next journey as a family and I step away from the office again, I hope to share how I have been the most productive. My goal is to help you better understand what "working from home" really looks like: the good, the bad and the ugly.

— Daddy West