Working Remotely Requires More Than Just a Dining Room Table

Published on August 23, 2017 in PECO Culture
Cassandra Burnham
Cassandra Burnham
Content Marketing Director

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People often think that working from home requires nothing more than a computer and a dining room table.  I beg to differ.  Successful remote employment takes much, much more.  During my thirteen years of working from home for Phillips Edison & Company, the organization has grown, technology has exploded and my role has evolved.  Looking back at all of the changes that the years have brought, I’ve noticed a few consistencies that I believe have allowed me to continue to be a productive and engaged member of the team.  Here are my top four recommendations for successful remote work.
  1. Space.  I know people who successfully work from home from their dining room tables.  Truth be told, I don’t quite know how they do it.  My inner organizational demons demand filing cabinets and dedicated space for things like staplers and highlighters.  However, even if you aren’t as obsessed with color coding as I am, a physical separation between “home” space and “work” space (i.e. a separate office with a door) is still sound advice.  Mentally, it will help you transition between the various parts of your day.  In addition, even if you don’t live on a small farm like I do, household sounds can be distracting to coworkers on the phone or in video.  Yes, sometimes the dog can still be heard through the door or I forget to close the window before a meeting and the rooster joins the call. But in the morning, when I walk into my office, my mindset changes and I am at work and the rest of the house ceases to exist for the most part.  In the office, I’m focused on work and I’m a professional.  It works the same way in reverse in the evenings, which allows me quality time with family. 
  2. Technology / Connection.  You must have multiple channels of communication and a high speed internet connection.  Here’s why:  If client/boss/coworker can’t reach you on email, they should have at least one other way to contact you.  They can’t walk down to your office or shoot rubber bands over the cubical wall so it is incumbent on you, the teleworker, to make sure they don’t feel impacted by this fact.  Be available via Skype, IM, cell, landline, texting –and be available when they need you (yes, that means working standard business hours).  I’m extremely thankful that Phillips Edison invested in video phones and conferencing.  If your company has provided you with this kind of benefit, make sure you turn your camera on and take full advantage of the extra presence they give you in the office.  Regardless, make sure that you offer your coworkers at least two or three ways to reach you and that you are consistently responsive to them in a timely manner. 
  3. Mindset.  Passion, dedication and gratitude are keystones to a successful work from home associate’s mindset.  You must be passionate about what you do and dedicated to doing a great job.  These things will keep you focused on work and away from distractions.  If you are excited about your proposal or widget, you’ll be so caught up in it that you’ll forget about the mountain of dishes in the kitchen down the hall.  Be grateful for the opportunity to work at home – the lack of commute, the flexibility, the comfy clothes when you’re not on video, and all of the other benefits it offers.  Gratitude will keep you engaged, stop you from feeling like you are missing out on happy hours and office events, and will spill over into your overall attitude as you go about your day.  If you have the right mindset - where you’re passionate about what you’re doing, dedicated to being a valuable member of the team and grateful for the opportunities you been given – you will be on the track to success.
  4. Visibility.  Make yourself as “visible” as possible.  You must be able to communicate clearly and consistently with your team.  Keep them informed of what you’re doing and stay plugged in on what they are working on.  You won’t have water cooler talk so make sure to make time for that kind of casual conversation in your calls and meetings.   Also, as I mentioned earlier, if you have video capabilities, use them – don’t close the camera because you’re having a bad hair day or last night’s dishes are still on the table.  Use that office with a door and be dressed for success with the video on your smiling face.  Reach out visually, verbally and in writing frequently and sincerely.  Yes, remote work can make visibility more challenging but you can easily overcome that by putting extra time and thought into your communication efforts. 
Remote work isn’t for everyone, nor does it fit with every role.  However, for those associates that thrive in a work-from-home situation, it can be fantastic for both the team member and the company, providing benefits such as increased productivity and high job satisfaction.
 
Cassandra Burnham
Cassandra Burnham
Content Marketing Director