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Work from Home Diaries, Vol. 3

It’s that time again, you hit the snooze button one last time, rush through getting ready for the day and then commute—to your den office.

As we head into fall, some of The Label Experts are still working remotely. We asked them to update us in their own words about how working from home has gone for them—and what they’ve learned so far.

Time for Deep Work on Long Term Projects

Web Developer KIRK SANDSTROM

Transitioning to working remote was not without its challenges, but for the most part, things have gone pretty well. Fortunately, EIM was already set up for working remotely as we had several employees that worked remote at least part time each week before the pandemic.  On top of that we have our IT pro, Joey, who worked hard to make sure the transition to full time remote work went as smoothly as possible. Thanks Joey!

As someone who works on a lot of long-term web development projects, working remote has actually given me time to focus on some of these trickier projects. The big challenge, however, is communication. I can’t just walk over to my managers office to ask questions when I get stuck—or spin my chair around to ask Joey a quick IT question. Luckily, we have done pretty well keeping in touch through a combination of email, instant messaging and video conferencing. For me, the important thing is to write up detailed questions and answers when discussing a project, and always be sure to get clarification if I don’t fully understand something.

One silver lining of remote work I really enjoy is spending more time with my dog. Rebel is a 3-year-old boxer with way too much energy­—I think he’s pretty happy that we get to play fetch on my lunch breaks now.

Remember to get outside when you can! Now that the weather is nice, I usually take my lunch outside on the porch. And stay active. Whether that’s running, walking, lifting weights, or whatever—it’s important to stay active now more than ever.

My final work from home tip is drink lots of coffee. Coffee is almost always the answer.

 

Dogs, Cats & Den Offices

Products & Innovation Manager JUAN MUNOZ

Label Expert Pepper lends Juan an assist with label testing.

I get up and get ready in the morning like I would when I was going on site, except I just go to the den, where I do all my work. I see my dogs (they think I stay home just for them) and cats (they think I got fired) all day long.

Overall, I have more personal time after work and spend less on gas due to not having to commute.

I have a lot less meetings; the ones I do have are virtual. What’s changed the most is not having in-person, quick, non-scheduled conversations about things. I find having an in-person conversation helps the context of a discussion. On the other hand, I have less interruptions now and more focus for work.

If you’re in the thick of working remotely and all you can see are the challenges, hang in there – we are ALL learning as we go.

 

Quiet Office Space at Last!

Desktop & Printer Support Specialist JOEY COCIVERA

We had a bit of a bumpy start transitioning so many people to be remote because of our VPN (we were used to maybe three people being remote at the same time). Once we figured out the VPN issues, it has been mostly smooth sailing since.

An upside to working from home is I get to spend more time with my girlfriend and our cats. During a stressful task it is nice to have one of my cats to pet for a bit of stress relief. Also getting to use my 27-inch 1440p 144hz monitor (this means I can fit more on the screen and everything moves more fluidly) is a nice upgrade from my office monitor!

I enjoy getting to eat breakfast and lunch every day with my girlfriend. My favorite part of working remotely is no office distractions. Sometimes when I am on a tech support call it can get loud in the office. Working remotely, I don’t have this problem (apart from my cat’s loud meows).

My biggest challenge is when someone has an issue I could normally easily fix, but I cannot directly get my hands on the device. But I suppose the bright side is I am getting better at fixing things remotely!

I had to figure out how to find time to do tasks that disrupts people’s workflow. For example, when we had issues with our VPN the only way to troubleshoot involved essentially kicking everyone off the VPN. Big updates to our VPN required me to clock back in at later hours (typically around 8:30 PM) to do these updates and not interfere with everyone’s work.

I wasn’t expecting to miss the office as much as I have. Don’t get me wrong, working remote has been a very cool experience and like I said above, without the distractions of a typical workspace I feel I am more productive. But there is something about going into the office and seeing coworkers that I do miss.

 

Staying Connected with Virtual Coffee Breaks

Marketing Assistant APRIL LEIGHTON

I thought working remotely 70% of the week would be easy—yeah, not so much. I miss my coworkers! I underestimated how much my daily routine involves interacting with my office mates and swapping ideas, being able to walk to someone’s cubicle to ask a question—the first few weeks of working from home felt like a vacuum.

But the amazing thing about the vacuum is I’m discovering how to work really well in my main skill areas, whether it’s handling our social media more thoughtfully or just being able to give more attention to our content marketing.

I think every remote office should have Virtual Coffee Breaks! They are a fun way to stay in touch with colleagues I don’t typically have meetings with. (It also definitely helps to have conversation starters on hand for when you’re all at that 2:30pm slump and the brain cells aren’t kicking!)

The thing that keeps me most productive while working remote is asking myself “What am I doing next?” before I take a break or step away from my laptop—it may sound too simple to have a lot of impact, but narrowing my focus to just the next concrete task has really helped me stay productive and focused on our main marketing goals.

 

No Commute=Time for Casting a Line

Matt fishing during his typical commuting hour

Label Expert Matt takes advantage of his freed up commuting hour.

Marketing Analyst & Business Development Assistant MATT SAMPSON

 

My new normal is working from my “home office”. At first, transitioning to working from home was very difficult. I had to figure out how to stay focused on work and not drift into partaking in chores and other activities around the place (which sometimes happened subconsciously).

There are definitely some advantages though. Having a window where I can look out and enjoy some scenery is definitely an upgrade, as my office does not have one. I also really enjoy taking the time that I would normally be commuting home to cast a line and fish.

My top tip for working from home that I would tell anyone is to set goals. Whether daily, weekly, or both, setting goals is an effective way to stay on track and stay motivated!

 

  

We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek at some of The Label Experts work from home stories. You can read previous Work from Home Diaries here and here.

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