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Remote Work: Dream or Nightmare

I began my career with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro on February 1, 2021 and was plunged into the world of philanthropy and foundations.  As if it were not enough ‘onboarding’ with a new company, within a new industry, in the non-profit sector, I added the monumental task of starting my new career remotely!  I met my new boss and all of my co-workers through Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and of course Zoom, and though it was not ideal, it was the standard means of communications for an entire workforce impacted by and working through the Covid19 pandemic.

I surely was not alone in making the adjustments to working remotely as we were all facing some of the same challenges, although some people handled these new work arrangements better than some others.  For anyone who has ever had to endure an arduous work commute, the mere thought of working from home can sound like a dream, but it can surely take some getting use to.  To go from a traffic-laden commute of 30, 45 to 60 minutes to simply rolling out of bed and walking a few steps to a home office is pretty easy to get use to, but still requires some organization, dedication, and focus.

Coming off of a 7-year entrepreneurial venture of my own, I was glad that I had some experience at working remotely and overcoming some of the fallacy that can accompany working from home.  I must admit, what I initially thought was going to be great, was actually not so great at all, having worked in very structured corporate settings for the majority of my career.  The worst obstacles to overcome were the constant barrage of distractions that are ever-present in one’s own home.  I mean with three kids, all of whom are in distant learning programs with their schools, a whole other level of distraction, chaos, and complexity can be added to one’s remote work equation without some self-imposed rules, regulations, guidelines, and restrictions.

Here are 5 personal suggestions for making your remote work experience a good one.

  1. Establish a designated workspace in your home, as separate from the daily activities of your home as possible. If you have a separate home office, that is great, but if not, find a location where you can work uninterrupted and without distraction.
  2. Make sure that you have the necessary equipment needed to carry out your work functions from home, including a computer with access to your company network, printer, scanner, work phone, additional lighting for virtual meetings, etc.
  3. Set your remote work hours to align with your company’s normal hours of operation. By eliminating your work commute, you may find yourself starting work early in the morning, and sometimes working later into the evening, again, because there is no longer a commute. Working later into the evening was an early result of my remote work inexperience.  This can really wreak havoc on one’s ‘live-work’ balance, and that is essential for us all.
  4. Along with setting work hours aligned with your business’ operating hours, make sure to set some time aside for lunch and breaks. I found that in working remotely, I could easily get lost in my work and not take a lunch break until 3 to 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  Keep your schedule as aligned as possible with your company’s normal work schedule, including breaks.  Handle personal task outside of established work hours.  It was extremely important for me to ‘only’ do work-related work during normal business hours.  Everything else has to just wait, as if I were physically in my workplace.
  5. Make sure that anyone else in the home during your work hours understands that you are on the clock, and really should not be disrupted during those specified times.

Without a doubt, each person has to make their remote work experience their own, also following any specific guidelines outlined and set by one’s company.  Many companies (tech sector) are making the stance to keep much of their workforce remote post-pandemic, but many other businesses in other industries either have and/or are returning to their offices as we speak.  I share the sentiments of many who miss the personal connection to one’s co-workers, and those impromptu exchanges that occur by just being in someone’s presence. I for one am a bit anxious and very excited to meet and bond with my co-workers somewhere other than ZOOM!

Michael A. Humphrey


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