In a perfect world, where would you work? What would your work set-up look like? With many companies transitioning their workers and/or workplaces to the virtual side, I’m certain many of us have pondered these questions. If you work from home, plan to soon, or you’re just inquisitive like me, you’ve probably also wondered, “What is it like for other people who operate from home?”
I decided to reach out to one of my remote teammates and learn more about their work from home lives, and how being remote changes how they work.
I caught up with Ian Koh, Recruiting Coach at Kinetix HR, to get a look at what an average day looks like. Ian, who not only works remotely, but also successfully leads a team, has been with Kinetix for almost five years. During the first four years of Ian’s tenure, he worked primarily on-site with his assigned client. However, he soon transitioned into the world of working from home and has settled into his remote life quite comfortably.
Without having to drive a million miles into the office, working from home has allowed Ian the flexibility to start his day off the way he wants. The surprising thing about his routine, however, is it hasn’t changed much from when he was working on-site with customers.
“My daily routine hasn’t changed as much. I still get up and get dressed up, even when I am at home. For me, it’s important that everyone knows that although I am home, I am working. I drop off my kid at school, then I head home to start work. By 7:30 a.m., I’m logged on and reading emails. This is also my time to follow up with my team and make certain they have everything they need to get them through the day. I stop working around 5:30 p.m., but admittedly, at times, I will work late and continue to check on a few things after dinner.”
Being able to communicate with your team effectively is essential to any work from home employee. Leading a team can be even more of a challenge, but Ian says having open communication and a variety of tools to facilitate it makes the process clear and easy.
Distractions can also be a problem when working from home or remotely. From kids, pets, and spouses, to construction, neighbors, and traffic: distractions can put a strain on work productivity and efficiency. Having a plan or method to get away from those distractions is a learning process, but necessary to complete accurate and precise work.
“I shut the door to my office, and I have a sign outside for when I’m unavailable. My family knows I’m often on video calls, so they know not to come to my office when I’m working. I try to keep my calendar as updated as possible, so my team knows where I am and what I am doing throughout the day.”
Other than distractions, remote workers have other issues they must address. These can be advantages or disadvantages, specific to the job or person, or anything you can imagine. When working from home, you have to be adaptable and find solutions that work for you.
“My biggest advantage is also a disadvantage for me. I love that I can work early and late, however I recognize that, for my team, it can sometimes be…a bit irritating. I can acknowledge I don’t unplug or disconnect from work all the way. There have been many times it slips my mind that not everyone is the same as me; it’ll be late or super early, and I reach out asking for updates or sending emails. Many days I do have to stop and apologize and realize, they probably have not had their coffee or breakfast yet, and at night I’m probably the only one logged in.”
Working from home can be laid-back, but it also paves the way for a multitude of different work-life balance problems. Not disconnecting completely can lead to problems like stress and burnout. Many remote workers attribute the stress and anxiety they feel while working at home to their inability to disconnect completely.
“When I am off, I try not to check my phone as much as when I am working. Our coaching team is very dependable, and we do our best to cover for one another when we are out. My team is also very supportive. I encourage my team to have input, help each other, answer questions, and provide support to each other without going to the coach first, which allows me to breathe a bit easier. Unless there is an emergency, when I have to disconnect, I can.”
Ian has found a way to excel working remotely. His journey may be different from others, but he has experienced situations similar to those that all work from home employees have encountered. Having a great environment to work in with little distractions and knowing how to communicate effectively are just a couple of things we can all take away from Ian’s story. But an even bigger takeaway is that no matter what, we all have to figure out what works for us.