We asked members of the Champlain College Online faculty and staff to share their experiences within transitioning to remote work. Here, members of our marketing and enrollment team share what it's been like to work from home during these uncertain times.
Managing Expectations While Working Remotely
I’ve worked from home many times over the years. And while I prefer working in the office for the social aspects of the experience, when I have a complex project to pull apart, or if I need to write - really anything that requires my full concentration - there is no place I would rather be than home.
That said, working from home with a 9-year old in the background can be challenging, particularly now that I am responsible for his learning, my working, and being there for my team. While I am only a few days into this new work-life mashup, here are some of the things I am putting in place to stay sane.
First, I am managing my expectations for myself, my kid, and my team - particularly those who have kiddos at home as well. We’re all still figuring this new reality out, and it’s just not reasonable to expect the same level of availability, or even productivity, as we get used to this “new normal.” Communicating that expressly is helpful too, so we are all on the same page.
Embracing rewards (by “rewards,” I am talking instant gratification that is baked into the day, throughout the day) is my second change to my “new life.” No more waiting until a full morning’s work to earn a break for my kiddo. He completes one school task, he gets a 15-minute block of fun time - screen or otherwise. I may earn a small block of chocolate. We need all of the positive associations we can get from this time together, particularly when we’re working.
Lastly, I am making sure that I can get physically away from my work and leave it in the other room. This can be hard when I have my smartphone glued to my hip, but it’s something I am striving to get better at doing. Turning it off, completely, last night felt risky, but it gave me relief.
Melissa Marcello is associate vice president for Champlain College Online; she oversees marketing, enrollment, and admissions efforts for our online division.
Creating Structure While Working From Home
I am someone who has worked remotely - both on a full-time and part-time basis - for nearly a decade, but it’s never been with my kids in the house with me. Sure, on the occasional sick day or snow day I manage both work and kids, but as the quarantine fatigue sets in after week one, I’m beginning to realize just how challenging this period will be for my children, ages 2.5 and 5.5, myself, and my husband.
In an effort to provide some structure for us all, my family has been loosely following the Pomodoro Technique, a time management system that “encourages people to work with the time they have - rather than against it.” My young kids seem to be able to focus on a task for about 20-30 minutes; Pomodoro calls for 25 minutes of focused work time, followed by 5-10 minutes of break time, which is being used as a transition period for the kids. However, if they stay on task, we go beyond the 25 minutes. An actual timer really helps, especially with my five-year-old who is capable of looking at the timer on her own if she’s wondering how much longer we have for an activity. After every four Pomodoros, we get an extended 30 minute break.
We’re lucky to live in Vermont where we can explore the great outdoors while still learning, so I’ve been taking calls while we’re outside and identifying work-related things that I can think critically about while they play and we all soak up some much needed vitamin D. After all, thinking about work is working too.
I’m also putting in time before they wake up and after bedtime and a bit on weekends, but I’m trying to keep my mental health top of mind as I attempt to find some balance. From what I can tell, beating COVID is a long game, so I recommend we all try to build some stamina and take it one day at a time.
Becky Colley is the director of creative and UX strategy at Champlain College Online.