What does it take to work from home? We invited four women to discuss the struggles and successes of working remotely at our May TechTalk hosted by Sporting Kansas City on May 15. Our panelists ranged from lead developers to a graphic design entrepreneur and each of them had wisdom to share for others interested in remote work. Read below to get tips and tricks!
Panelists Hillary Watts and Malerie Pace manage teams of developers from home which led to learning curves and challenges. Tiffany Bronson works in customer operations at Optiv Security and she has a lot of tasks to juggle for her job such preparing quotes and working with vendors remotely. Cami Travis-Groves owns her own coaching business and spends a lot of time volunteering, sharing her experience of being a freelancer.
What’s your favorite part of working remote?
• The commute is great
• Spending more time with kids
• Getting your body moving is important and I can do that whenever I want
• Set my own hours
• Ability to travel and work wherever I am #TechTalk #workingfromhome
— KCWiT (@KCWomeninTech) May 16, 2019
First, presentation director Subha kicked off the panel by asking our experts how they got started working from home. Cami realized it was the way she could be the most productive. She has many years of experience so she can complete her work very quickly. When she would start a traditional 40 hour a week position, she would complete her work in 10 hours and feel like she was sitting around. So she started her own business, working at her quick pace but now she was benefitting from that pace.
Panelist Malerie Pace is a lead software engineer who asked her bosses to work remotely less than a year ago and has been loving it so far. Attendees wanted help to have those conversations with leaders that Malerie had. How do you convince the higher-ups to let you work remotely?
Getting Started Working from Home
Malerie and some helpful attendees suggested having open conversations with your supervisor but come prepared with information. A two-year study from Stanford suggested that working from home can be more productive than working in an office. “If you can show to your boss that this is what they get when you work from home (a win!) and they still say no, they will have to realize they are saying no to a win,” Cami said. Malerie also suggested starting slow: ask for one day or instead of taking personal time for a house issue or an appointment, ask to work from home. And then be available during that day. Let them see that you are online and communicating. However, if your supervisors are still being resistant or they sound like they don’t trust you, maybe this isn’t a good fit for you.
If you want to find a new remote job, KCWiT membership director Tamara Copple suggested three websites for finding remote work (there is a subscription cost, but they are verified opportunities) remotive.io, virtualvocations.com and InHerSight.com. You can search for remote jobs on LinkedIn, by putting ‘Remote’ as the location search however there is a Remote, Oregon that will come up!
Leading a Team
Malerie and Hillary lead teams from home which leads to its own challenges and successes. They talked a lot about being present for their direct reports. Malerie relies on video chat particularly: seeing each other’s faces is really important. Hillary doesn’t use video chat (she doesn’t want to put on pants!), but agreed that regular and open communication on the phone or Slack is important for leadership.
Be Successful and Happy Working Remote
So you have gotten buy-in from your supervisor to work from home or you have been working from home for a while and want to maximize your productivity. How do you do it? Our panelists have a lot of tips.
- Prepare your brain for work by having a routine: getting coffee, putting on pants or shoes, and having a dedicated space for work
- Use tools such as Slack, Trello, To-Do list or planner/calendar to keep track of what you have to get done
- Take a break. Hillary likes to get moving throughout her day, even if it means just taking a walk outside.
- When you are working, be available. One attendee was struggling with moving up in her company because she isn’t ‘seen’ by her superiors as having leadership potential. So be heard: volunteer for questions or projects, be active in Slack or chat tools, speak up on conference calls.
- When work is over, work is over. Just because you have more flexible shifts doesn’t mean you have to be ‘on’ all the time. Shut the computer down, tell your coworkers or bosses that you stop checking emails at a set time.
- Make sure you have social time. Socialization is not built into your day when you work remote. Tiffany makes sure that in the evenings she has things planned such as meeting friends, volunteering, teaching salsa classes!
Cami mentioned a lot of resources for those who work remotely or want to work remotely but still be leaders in their roles. She mentioned two books, 100x Leadership and When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, for training your brain to work at its peak times. Events director Allison suggested a blog post from our founder Jennifer Wadella: There Are No Snow Days When You Work Remote and this guide to remote work.
Our TechTalks are the perfect place to learn topics around tech. Our June TechTalk is all about Internet Safety for Kids. How do we protect them while still encouraging them to learn this amazing tool and resource? RSVP now to our free event.