Working remotely: 1-week update

About a week ago, I started a new job. Actually, sort of an old job… I am back at Lionbridge, and during the business hours when I am logged into my work laptop (I am typing this from my personal machine), I wear my Senior Project Manager hat.

On an off-chance that you are wondering about my job, I tried explaining it before: a localization project manager is a client services role that requires both kindergarten teacher and dominatrix skills. I deal with multilingual content, but I don’t translate. I focus on my customers and their needs while juggling a million emails, keeping track of a bazillion of details, and staying on top of the frequently changing systems and processes. I just hope that if I keep explaining it, at some point I will arrive at a neat seven-word elevator pitch. Moving on…

There is always so much going on at the job, and so many things to learn. But that’s a topic for a different post.

The biggest difference for me is that I am back with the same company, but I work remotely from my home in Houston.

Instead of commuting to an office every day, I just turn on my laptop, remote into the network, and voila! I am in Boulder, CO – the office that I am a part of.

What is the hardest part?

During the interview process, I was asked about working from home several times. How will I manage? Will I stay sane and not get depressed? Plus an implied question, that my interviewers did not ask but my friends and family sure did: Am I going to hang out on Facebook all day, as there will be no-one to look over my shoulder, and generally procrastinate and slack off?

It is very hard to slack off as a project manager at my company. The reporting structure is very transparent, and if someone is running at 50% capacity, it shows up pretty quickly in their monthly revenue reports and profit margins. So that was not my concern.

It is hard to transition out of the working mode

In fact, I was worried about falling on the other side of the fence – with the network available at all hours, with my team and clients all over the world meaning that there is email and people online at any time of day and night, no commute to draw the home/office line, very little people I know in Houston, and on top of that, my husband currently being staffed on a project in Europe, I could see a picture of myself as a maniac working machine, staring at a glowing triangle, unable to peel myself off the desk to do “unimportant” tasks such as eat a lunch or dinner, step outside to get some fresh air, get groceries, drive to the gym.

And the danger of becoming a single-minded task-completion machine, as opposed to someone who is able to execute and deliver, while cultivating relationships and coming up with innovative solutions, is still here. I just keep reminding myself that it is pretty hard to relate to my clients and teams in a human-like manner, or think outside of the box, if I am holed up in my home office and never step outside.

So here are the things that help me work remotely:

  • Using the work laptop just for work: RSS feeds, blogging, Gmail all happen on a home computer and outside of the working hours. This rule has actually been rather easy to keep.
  • Lunch away from the screen: looking outside, listening to music, and paying attention to what I am actually eating.
  • Different space for work: I signed up for a month at Caroline Collective, a co-working space that is a 15-minute walk from my home. I went once during last and it was very quiet – will go again this week to get a better feel for it.

Things I want to do better:

  • Better meals planning: something along the lines of stocking up a couple of meals in advance, so that I don’t have to make each one from scratch.
  • Getting out of the house every day! Especially to drive to the Texas Rock Gym – a place that I am head over heels in love with.
  • It would be really, really nice to go for a quick walk or run at the Hermann Park every day, if only for 15 minutes. It is right across the street from my apartment building, and I went very often before I started walking, but right now it seems almost too indulgent. Here is planting the intention and reminding myself that really, there is nothing extravagant about going for a 15-minute walk every day, and the benefits of fresh air and sun are much greater than whatever it is that I can accomplish in 15 minutes in front of the computer.

That’s it! Would be interesting to compare my notes in a month or so. Let me put it on my calendar, so that I don’t forget among the bazillion things that I keep a track of 🙂

I happen to know that a lot of people reading this also work from home… How is it working for you? And if this is something you might want to do one day, how would you want it to work for you?

6 thoughts on “Working remotely: 1-week update

  1. for me working from home it’s definitely much harder than for you, so I don’t have any good ideas how to cope with it, I can just take your advice(you’ve already figured some good points;)). Anyways I’m really interested what would your update sound like after let’s say 2 months:-)

  2. Jenia Laszlo says:

    Oldrich: here is a virtual cup of tea for you (or a cup of another beverage, if you prefer).

    If I don’t post an honest update in a month or two, please call my bluff.

  3. Congratulations on your new job.

    I work from home as well and I find that it is very conducive to deep thinking and research kind of work but it is also very easy to get obssessive and fixated on work projects.

    I know that it would have been virtually impossible for to blog and Twitter the way I do, had I always been in an office.

    I find my work mode varies between balance and imbalance and I have to come up for air occasionally and realign, but I also really enjoy the personal sense of responsibility and self accountability that work from home entails. This self assessment is usually much tougher than would be expected in an office environment.

    I also really enjoy the much more efficient meetings that are also a part of my work. ( I used to work for a company that had a meeting addiction – during which little or nothing was accomplished and completely wasted much of my week.) In a lot companies meetings are equated as work even when they have no clear purpose.

    Also, as I am talking to people across the globe on a daily basis there really is no other way to do this.

    Good luck. I think you will find that your mode changes and evolves as you understand your job and your key interfaces better.

  4. Jenia Laszlo says:

    Kirti, thank you for a very insightful perspective on how remote work is working for you.

    I, too, noticed that there is more space – external and internal – that is needed for deep, creative thinking, that exists at my home office which did not exist in a “real” office. The key, as you wrote, is the discipline to contain and wisely use that space… which is the hard part, of course.

    Thank you for the encouragement – I am sure I will post more about how this working mode changes and evolves for me; I know there are a lot more things to learn.

    • Jenia Laszlo says:

      Has it been 2 months since that last update?! Ow, I totally got my bluff called. Now, here is a resolution to come up with a two-month review over the weekend. Yes, there is stuff to share and plenty of lessons learned.

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