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Kim Cregan

By: Kim Cregan on March 24th, 2020

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The key to staying healthy and sane while working from home...

remote work | virtual office

mailto:demo@example.com?Subject=HighRoad Solutions - interesting article

[Editor's note: As organizations make the transition to work from home, we're continuing to share our own insights and our experiences in the new virtual workforce reality.]

Well, I wish I had the answer to that Million Dollar Question! I don’t have all the answers, and I suspect it’s different for everyone. But I’m happy to share what I’ve learned being a full-time teleworker, especially now that times have rapidly shifted into a state where so many of us are working from our homes.

 For me, it all started in 2019: I landed a dream job with HighRoad Solutions - utilizing my skills and experience in a new and exciting industry, where I would be challenged, and learn new technologies, and contribute to the success of a growing company full of smart, motivated people. And…I would be working from home! HighRoad has been 100% virtual since the company was founded in 2005. No more commuting, no more Metro with the masses. Woo-hoo! I’ll have all this extra time in my day, to spend with family, to exercise, to explore new recipes, maybe read a book.
Most of the above statement is absolutely true. Now that many of us find ourselves working from home, you already know which part is a bit of a fantasy: what is this “extra time” thing? We know this inherently, but somehow we have to remind ourselves that we need to MAKE time for important tasks, events and people; it does not magically appear in our schedules.
Just like working in a brick-and-mortar office space, with your colleagues and bosses and all of the things that come with that work environment, you still need to manage your time well, in order to accomplish all of the things that you’d like to get done. But it’s not all about job tasks. I have only been working remotely with HighRoad for less than a year, but I can already share some of my top tips on keeping it together. Or making a darn good effort to do so!
  • Prioritize your day. What do you NEED to get done today? This is not the same as what you would LIKE to accomplish today. Separate these tasks. Start your day with a prioritized list, and create one at the end of your day, so you can begin on the right foot in the morning. Try to write everything down, even small tasks that you might forget by the next morning.
  • Schedule time for a break. On your calendar. Yes, the shared one that everyone can see. Really. It may sound silly, but if you don’t book time to eat, or go for a walk, those things might not happen. I appreciate seeing “Get up”, or “eat some lunch” on a colleague’s calendar. These things are important. And sharing your calendars with each other is the most productive way to know when you can connect with someone internally, or schedule a meeting with several people.  We all share our calendars at HighRoad, and it’s indispensable.
  • Make time to connect with colleagues – whether via Slack, Zoom, texting or picking up the phone once in a while. It’s easy to feel isolated on the job. At HighRoad, we use a “water-cooler” Slack channel to stay on top of everyone’s shenanigans, share cute photos of kids and pets, and wish each other happy birthday. How else would we know that our Director of Sales is a Halloween nut, and wins the neighborhood prize for best yard decorations every year (and they’re impressive); or that our Director of Services has coyotes and bobcats roaming in her back-yard in St. Louis (equally as impressive)? It’s a fun way to share a slice of our personal lives with each other, which would be a normal part of our work relationships if we were all together in an office space.  
  • Be patient with yourself…and with others. Acknowledge there may be a learning curve, or that other people do not always know what you know. Remember also that sometimes we miss something in written communication, especially tone of voice. And even when we speak with people on the phone, and can hear their tone of voice, we are still missing facial expressions and body language, which can instantaneously convey deeper meaning, and insights. At HighRoad, we do our best to connect with our clients – and each other - via Zoom, which allows us to share visuals as well as audio, and even share our computer screens with each other. Tools like these can be game-changing in a remote setting, boosting internal and external communications. We love technology at HighRoad, and are always researching trends, tools and best practices for our industry. Who knows what we’ll be using tomorrow. But when we do adopt new tools, we are excited to share our knowledge and experiences with our clients, to bring them the best tools and platforms available.
  • Have fun. At HighRoad, one of our core values is Do What You Love, Love What You Do. Find ways to enjoy what you are doing and learning! How can you make this task more fun / creative / exciting / helpful for others? This is a choice. And it can make all the difference. One of the reasons we HighRoaders love what we do is that we are motivated to find solutions that will make our clients’ jobs easier and help them succeed; and most of our clients are in the business of making people’s lives better, and more productive – through education, collaboration and engagement. What’s not to love? Everyone wins when you love what you do!
  • Let it go. And then some days, you start your day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with the best of intentions, with your day well-planned and your calendar thoughtfully prioritized….and then something comes up, and you don’t get that one task done, or you don’t take a break for lunch, or get outside and see the sun. And then you’re irritated with yourself, because you feel that you have MADE the time for all these things, so how did it not go as you had planned? Be kind to yourself. Remember there were days like this at the office too, and sometimes other priorities take precedence. Take a deep breath. This moment here, right now, is a new moment. Tomorrow is a new day. And you will get all those things done. Just remember to schedule them on your calendar smiling face with smiling eyes
 Want to learn more about HighRoad, or working remotely – and doing your best to stay sane? We can connect via any of the high-or-low-tech methods listed in this blog – or I will be happy to learn about a new one!

About Kim Cregan

Kim is a seasoned Strategic Account Manager specializing in building enduring client relationships and partnerships, developing new business opportunities, and increasing brand awareness and loyalty. With a proven track record in increasing revenue streams, Kim has negotiated and closed deals with a wide variety of clients in diverse industries, including associations and nonprofit, news media, corporate entities and government agencies. Along with her native English, she is also fluent in French, and enjoys the opportunity to use it on a regular basis.