Jonathan De Leon, 2018 WWU graduate with a major in computer science, shares his experience working from home and his top tips for a fulfilling and productive home-work experience.
I started working remotely at CampLife during the summer of 2015 after completing my first year at Walla Walla University. I worked with CampLife for three years while attending WWU, and I currently work with them remotely as a full-stack web developer. I thoroughly enjoy my job creating software to help campground parks and outdoor resorts reach their potential. I began my internship in 2015 very excited about the opportunity to work from home. However, I had no idea about the inevitable challenges of working in a remote setting.
I first learned about CampLife from posters on the bulletin board in the WWU computer science lab. I learned they were conducting interviews and that the founder of the company was a WWU alumnus named Tyler Duffy. I decided to contact the company and pursue an interview. Weeks later I was sitting in the Chan Shun Pavilion lobby with my WWU freshman mentor talking about the interview I was hoping to have with CampLife. One of my engineering professors, Don Riley, was in his office and overheard our conversation. He quickly came out of his office and said he was very impressed with what he was hearing and that he would like to offer a recommendation to Tyler on my behalf. I learned later that Tyler was a former student of his and a good friend. I couldn’t believe the timing of that moment. I truly felt Professor Riley was passionate about helping me grow, and I am thankful for his involvement in helping me reach my career goals. In retrospect, I can’t help but think God was leading me to CampLife all along.
Now that I’ve been working for CampLife remotely for nearly five years, one of the most common inquiries I get from family and friends is what it is like to work from home. With the recent rise in numbers of people working remotely, I wanted to share some tips and experiences that might help others who are new to this way of working.
Every day our team dials into RingCentral (Zoom) meetings from our home offices and we share friendly conversations in our virtual watercooler Slack channels usually dedicated to GIF images. Working from home can be exciting and to some—especially those living in a crowded city area—a luxury. It isn’t until the dogs decide that the important meeting you scheduled is the best time for them to bark and play and your family members think you have plenty of time available to help them during work hours that you start thinking about how to maintain your sanity. Here are some tips that have helped me.
1. Maintain a routine.
Because your home is your office, it can be tough to distinguish between work and non-work time. It is very tempting to get up one minute before your first early morning meeting to jump right into work. Unfortunately, you might find it more challenging to start your workday this way like I did.
The best thing I did to adapt to a home work environment was to create a morning routine. A routine signals my brain when work time is starting. Preparing as if you are going to an office can compensate for the void of “commute” time. Another example of a routine includes going for an early morning walk. You may find that your day is a lot more productive with a routine.
2. Manage expectations.
When you are home all day, others might expect you to make yourself available for chores or answering questions. An unexpected challenge that I faced was convincing those around me that I am at work. Setting clear rules with your family or roommates can help manage the expectations for when you are available.
I like to use headphones for audio-only entertainment and to disconnect from my surroundings. It also adds the benefit of an external signal that I am in “Do Not Disturb” mode.
3. Take breaks.
You are your own worst enemy. Sometimes it is important to set boundaries with yourself. There is a tendency to work more while working remotely. You might start to feel like you are always on-call and checking emails. Know there is always work to be done and having a hard stop is okay.
I would suggest taking breaks. Work in chunks such as two hours of focused work, a 15–30 minute break, and then repeat. Don’t be hesitant to set your status to “away” to let your coworkers know that you have gone for a walk to enjoy nice weather or are taking a break to stand up after sitting for some time. Taking breaks helps me to remain focused with a fresh mind and to feel more productive.
One of the hardest things about working remotely is the lack of human interaction. Although this may seem less relevant in the current situation, it is important to stay socially connected. Reaching out to coworkers by sending random funny videos or GIFs or virtual high-fives from time to time can most definitely boost morale.
Even with the challenges, remote working can be an extremely fulfilling way to live. By ditching the pajama party and creating a routine, setting clear boundaries and expectations, socializing using technology, and taking breaks to recharge, we can remain sane and stay productive.
Posted March 26, 2020