It has been five months since we left our physical office space and I have been reflecting on how “best practices” for remote working have evolved and will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come. A lot has changed, but a lot has inherently remained the same. I have seen numerous articles and blog posts on the topic. By now, we all know that you should probably have a dedicated area of your home for your office. But no one really seems to mind the barking dogs or crying kids as much anymore. I’m still seeing a lot of recommendations around getting dressed to start the work day, but I have noticed that pretty much anything goes these days (unless you have a client meeting). I may have a friend or two that have “business” cardigans handy to don over whatever they are wearing when needed.
I began working remotely over twenty years ago when I started a career in Sales and Marketing. Initially, I was hardly ever at my home desk as most of my week was spent calling on potential clients. Times were different then and people were more willing to meet with you face to face. After I took a position as Director of Marketing for a company based in North Carolina, my Atlanta home office became a place where I spent the majority of my day. Working from home was not something that I considered was for everyone, but it is now for many, whether we like it or not. Working from home takes a certain amount of discipline and self-motivation. And it can be lonely. I have seen how my own children (introverts and extroverts) have had varied experiences as they navigate remote learning.
Working from home was not something that I considered was for everyone, but it is now for many, whether we like it or not. Working from home takes a certain amount of discipline and self-motivation. And it can be lonely.
With the increased use of video communications technology, we are still trying to figure it all out. We could never seem to get video conferencing to work flawlessly in the conference room of our old office, so to rely on it so heavily now took a giant leap of faith. And what is the protocol? Is it okay if I turn my camera off and everyone else’s is on? I am getting pretty tired of looking at myself all day. Is it okay to be on mute or does everyone else think I am not participating? With the delay, how do we not all speak at once? Sigh. How will all five of my family members be on a call when school starts back up? How many routers will we actually need at home?
Implementing new technology always brings bumps and challenges, but often the end result is completely worth the journey. I remember a decade ago, being chided by coworkers who bet that I was still in my pajamas (those were the days before our laptops had built-in cameras). I remember hooking up my first webcam for weekly meetings and the odd feeling that came when a group of my peers could all see me but I couldn’t see them. When they eventually followed suit and installed a webcam in the conference room, we could finally see each other! But with slow wifi, I would watch in horror as my face often froze on a giant screen in the conference room for the remainder of the hour. But at least they could still hear me. And here we are today, on calls with people around the world, sharing screens and collaborating together to solve highly technical problems, with kids and dogs along for the ride.
In our space, as a well-seasoned Adobe solutions partner, we didn’t know what to expect initially. How would we and our clients fare against the uncertainty that we were all experiencing? We know now that E-commerce has been expedited tremendously and if you haven’t been investing in digital, you can certainly see the importance of it now. “According to our data, it would’ve taken between 4 and 6 years to get to the levels that we saw in May if the growth continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years,” reflected Vivek Pandya, Adobe’s Digital Insights Manager in a recent Forbes article.
Here is what I do know - we have gotten better. Together, but apart. We are getting hard work done and having a strong year. We are staying connected and after trying almost every remote conferencing tool, we are getting even better as a team. We are honed in on what needs to be done and working together productively, partnered with our clients. We appreciate each other. We are thankful for the wonderful clients that we still get to work with and we are even more focused on how we can help them solve business problems and be even better in tough times. I am personally grateful for the additional time with family and for the frontline and essential workers who are tirelessly working outside the home every day.
We are honed in on what needs to be done and working together productively, partnered with our clients. We appreciate each other.
We have had team members study and achieve more Adobe certifications. We have hired employees without ever meeting each other in-person. We have a Slack channel for books and big ideas - exploring topics from happiness to implicit bias. On Tandem, we have not only a virtual water cooler, but also a virtual coffee bar and happy hours, sharing highs and lows, bread recipes, memes and photos of our kids and pets. We are getting to know each other better.
So what are my best practices beyond the classic work from home advice? It’s really not that different from what it would be if we were together in a physical office. Here’s my list:
Stay well. We are in this together, even if we are apart.