By Michelle Suarez, Account Manager for Meetings & Education

Nearly one year ago, I transitioned from being in the office each day, to working remotely full-time. Prior to this transition, I read numerous articles about making the most of working outside of the physical office environment and have consistently found myself adjusting to this new workplace arrangement. Today, I would like to share a bit of what I have learned over the past year.

1.  Going to the Office: This has definitely taken on a new meaning for me over the last year. One thing that has helped to ease this transition, is having a designated work space, one free from distractions, allowing me to focus on the task at hand. Whether you are working from a home office, favorite coffee shop, or logging hours while traveling for a client, you’re essentially putting blinders on to what is going on around you, to focus on your work. For me, waking up early and checking a few things off my personal to-do list has proven to be a surefire way to help me focus on work without distraction.

2.  Dressing the Part:  One advantage to working remotely is the change in dress code, even though our office dress code is pretty casual to begin with. I’ll admit that, at first, working in my yoga pants and favorite hoody was a very appealing thought. However, there is nothing like an impromptu video conference to make you step up your game. Even if you aren’t going into the office every day, it’s important to dress for the day. I’ve found that it actually feels better and places me into the “work” mindset.

3.  Team Work: Working remotely has many benefits, but it is not without its challenges. Weekly Team meetings or monthly all-staff meetings take additional planning. Considerations need to be made: Is anyone else working remote that day, and if so, how far in advance should we determine if the conference line needs to be used? Presentations take on a new meaning as well, as I now have to utilize additional resources to participate live, resources that have to be tested with the presenter in advance to make certain both parties are comfortable with the technology. Projects that previously took minutes to complete on my own now require the assistance of team members. It’s important to be aware of this and appreciate that it can pose challenges not only for the person working remotely but for those in the office as well. I’ve been very fortunate. My team members are great and have helped to ease this transition.

4.  Communication: This is more important than ever while working remotely, since walking down the hall for a quick chat is no longer an option. It means you need to be prepared for more phone calls, emails or, in the case of our office, relying more on our interoffice chat tool to quickly and efficiently address any questions, changes, or new items as they come up. During an in-person meeting, you can gauge body language, facial expressions, etc.; in a remote setting, however, when those are no longer visible, you realize just how much you rely on these indicators.

5.  Time and Routines: Everyone has a routine when they first arrive at the office each morning and before they leave in the evening. It’s important to honor these, even when working outside of the office. Whether that means the order in which you tackle your to-do list, a lunch time walk around the block to clear your head, or tidying up your work space at the end of the day. Most of my routines remain intact. This could be because I am extremely tied to my to-do lists… yes, plural. What can I say, I like my lists!

These are just a few of my takeaways from the last year. Working remotely means something different to everyone. For me, my commute might be shorter but, for the most part, going to the office is much the same: taking out my to-do list (I won’t bring them up again, promise) and tackling the day. It means that when I find myself struggling with a project, I take a look at the same sign that once sat on my desk in the Sentergroup office – our mission and core values – and take a moment to reflect before moving forward.