Pro Tips for Actually Working While WFH

By April 3, 2020#BOCALife

In the past month there has been a huge shift in the world of work. Millions of people around the world are suddenly expected to transition seamlessly from office life to working from home. At BOCA, we’ve had a #WorkFromAnywhere culture for years. About half of our agency works remotely full-time throughout the country and our San Francisco-based team members can split their team between home and our downtown office. 

We asked some of our WFH warriors (and remote working newbies!) to share their best tips for getting $h*& done and staying sane. 

Elyce Ventura
Vice President
Chicago, Illinois 

How long have you worked remotely? We moved in 2007 when my husband’s job relocated, and I’ve been working from home ever since.

What advice do you have for someone who is new to WFH? Avoid guilt by time blocking every minute of your day. Even if you set up a great physical workspace in your home, if your kids are sitting in the next room and you have 80 loads of laundry to do, it’s natural to let your mind wander. Similarly, when you’re supposed to be spending time with family in the evening, it takes discipline to not reach for your computer. Give yourself ‘permission’ to devote your mental energies to your clients and colleagues during your workday blocks, and devote your energy to family and friends outside of those hours.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started WFH? You’re going to be really productive! You may feel isolated at first. Remember that your coworkers are a call, click or text away, so contact them often, just as you would if you were working with them on-site. You can – and will – build great relationships and professional and personal support networks from anywhere. 

Brigit Valencia
Vice President
Portland, Oregon

How long have you worked remotely? I have been working remotely  for 15 years – since relocating to the Portland Oregon area in 2005.

What advice do you have for someone who is new to WFH? Create a workspace that works for you and your home. I am much more efficient working at a desk with a monitor than at a kitchen table with a laptop. If you have young kids like I do, try to get creative. Do what you need to do to be professional – I took many calls from the closet or garage when my kids were younger. 

What do you wish someone had told you before you started WFH? In my experience, remote workers tend to work more hours than they would if they were working in an office with a commute of any kind. Getting yourself on a schedule – and sticking to it – is key to avoiding burnout.

Merrill Freund
General Manager / Executive Vice President
San Francisco, California

How long have you worked remotely? I previously worked from home about four years ago, but it did not go well as I had little experience, particularly compared to my girlfriend who was a complete professional at it. Now, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the California shelter from home order, I have now been doing it for four weeks. 

What advice do you have for someone who is new to WFH? The number one advice I have is that you need to quickly get into a work AND break routine to create mental space. You forget that there are countless mini breaks when you work in an office with coworkers. You don’t realize that small pauses in the day are necessary until you start working non-stop from home for nine hours and feel emotionally and mentally spent.

How do you build rapport with clients and co-workers virtually? Take a step back and remember that we are all people who feed off of human contact and connection, particularly during times like these. Don’t always jump straight into the meeting agenda; strive to check in and show empathy for the working parents with toddlers that require constant attention, or the colleague with an ailing family member.

 

Jenn Zimmer
Account Supervisor
Grand Rapids, Michigan

How long have you worked remotely?  I have been working remote since I moved from California to Michigan in 2013.

What advice do you have for someone who is new to WFH? Set boundaries when it comes to working hours and make time for yourself. If you have room, create a space for yourself that separates your work from your home. If you’re constantly working from your kitchen table, then you will find yourself working more than if you were in the office. 

How do you build rapport with clients and co-workers virtually? Pick up the phone and have a live conversation. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the tools like email and Slack to communicate with clients and team members. Live conversations help build a rapport that isn’t possible over email. 

 

Diego Vasquez
PR Strategist
Minneapolis, MN

How long have you worked remotely? I’ve been working remotely for most of my career, roughly 15 years

What do you wish someone had told you before you started WFH? I wish someone told me how helpful it can be to have a dedicated workspace when working from home. It’s a good way to help limit any distractions that may come up, and also help you get in the zone and be more productive.

How do you build rapport with clients and co-workers virtually? Building rapport with clients is just being friendly, listening to their needs, asking the right questions, and working together to get the results we want. When it comes to co-workers, quick messages on Slack or any of the other chats are a good way to keep in contact or get in a quick laugh with a funny news story or GIF.

Anthony Lam
Senior Account Executive
San Francisco, California

How long have you worked remotely? I’ve been working at BOCA for 2+ years now and we have always worked remotely on Fridays and the week between Christmas and New Years which is nice. 

What advice do you have for someone who is new to WFH? Wake up early as if you were going to work to ensure that you have time to eat breakfast accordingly. Also, make sure that you mark off time to take a break away from your work desk and to eat lunch. It is also nice if you set up your work desk next to a window or somewhere where you see light from outside. 

How do you build rapport with clients and co-workers virtually? Video calls are your best friend. Most people don’t enjoy the interaction but it is a good habit to get into because it allows you to have real conversations with clients/co-workers vs keeping yourself on mute via the phone where they feel like they are talking to themselves.

Rachel Odenwaller
Account Supervisor
San Francisco

How long have you worked remotely? Going on week four. 

What do you wish someone had told you before you started WFH? Staying motivated is HARD. If you wake up, roll over and start working, it will be even harder. Set goals for yourself to accomplish throughout the day and stay as active as possible. Whether it’s taking walks (solo), doing a home workout or cooking, it will help keep your brain sharp. 

How do you build rapport with clients and co-workers virtually? Find something you have in common! Maybe it’s a TV show, a shared hometown or hobby. Anything outside of the day-to-day work talk helps build a stronger bond, remote or otherwise.

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