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A Mother’s Take on Remote Working

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These last couple of years allowed me to get a lot more experience with remote working than I ever thought I would, and I just loved it. The office is now transitioning back to regular work hours, but they are offering people who want to stay remote workers a chance to do so, and I was one of the first to sign up for the initiative.

Yes, remote work has challenges. But there is too much to love about working from the comfort of my home. Not to mention I get to spend much more time with my family. And while I might be a bit late to the party in this area, the fact that I now have the choice to go back to a traditional workplace had me thinking about remote work in general and the challenges I dealt with while adapting to the new normal. So, I’d like to go over a few tips and tricks for parents looking to adapt to working out of a home office.

Who knows, maybe one of these tips will help you realize that you don’t need to go back to the office to be productive. Instead, you can stay home just like I choose to do or go for a hybrid approach.

Give up on silence

When I first transitioned to the home office, my main issue was getting the home quiet. For some reason, noise from the kids and husband at home felt a lot more distracting than random noises at the office — I guess because the noise at home is a lot more identifiable, while in the office, it kind of just fades into the background.

My family was sweet and tried to keep things quiet for a bit. But there’s no getting around it — having to monitor noise pollution in the house 24/7 constantly is a pain, and eventually, I realized we’re all just getting cranky from worrying about it all the time. I mean, I wasn’t demanding silence for anything; I work with lots of numbers, and every little noise pulled me straight out of my spreadsheets, which was panic-inducing when I was also racing against a deadline.

Anyway, the ultimate solution was just to give up. Instead of being a pain in everyone’s life, I just invested in a set of comfortable wireless noise-canceling headphones. Now I work with instrumental music or white noise playing on them, which helps me get in the zone and frees my family from worrying about the noise around me.

It helps that my kids are teens, by the way. And my headphones are set up so that if someone screams, it’ll bypass the noise-canceling; I’m not entirely cut out from the outside world. If you have a small kid, it can be wise to get a nanny, even working from home. That will allow you to focus on work, plus you’d need to have a nanny if you were going to the office anyway.

Look for great tools

White Laptop Computer on Table

It took about three months until my bosses finally decided to implement an employee monitoring software to help manage the remote team. And I thought that was going to be a pain, but the software revealed that I was working something like 10 hours a day without realizing it, and it made workflow management much more manageable. Seriously, if your team hasn’t implemented a proper remote working software solution, you should tell your bosses to get on it. Email and text messages can only go so far.

Separate life and work

If you aren’t careful, life and work will start to blend while you work from home. So it can be helpful to dedicate blocks of time to each. For example, I’ll usually do 2 hours of work and take 30 minutes to relax and do stuff around the house. And the headphones are helpful here too, because I only wear them when I’m working, so they immediately put me in a professional mood.

Stay in touch

I got into the habit of sending a few co-workers a friendly email at least once a week. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking shop with people in my field until I happened to text a co-worker a couple of months ago, and we ended up talking for an hour. So yeah, use a bit of your free time to talk about work with people who get it; it’s good for you. And that’s something we miss when we aren’t all working in the same office space.

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