WFH Tips and Transitions

Globally mobile workers have long relied on Living Abroad’s experience bringing you superior content on a wide range of topics. But would it surprise you to know that we also have long experience working remotely?

For more than a decade, our core team has worked from home, utilizing an office periodically for meetings and planning sessions. And while pandemic shutdowns were jarring in many ways, we didn’t miss a beat with our workflow, which allowed us to flex and adjust quickly to our clients’ needs.

Here are some things that have worked for us over the years:

* Weekly company call to share what each person is working on and bring up any issues.

* Monthly in-person meeting (online during COVID) which is a little more in-depth as we spend additional time on broader topics and larger projects.

* Quarterly planning meetings during which we take stock of what’s been accomplished over the previous quarter and discuss the upcoming one. Again, these are typically in person and last a few hours.  We took these online last year.

Prior to the pandemic, people would occasionally ask me about my WFH situation. When everyone was forced into the same model, I got even more questions. Here are some common ones:

How do you deal with the isolation? The scheduled check-ins help with that. We also have an IM platform on all day, in addition to email and phone, so it always feels like someone is just a “ping” away. I also use my ‘coffee break’ to walk my dog, which often leads to friendly exchanges with neighbors.

How do you stay focused? I have always been very self-motivated. A productive day makes me happy. I’m a ‘list person,’ tracking goals for the day and week. Some days it helps to pace myself, when possible, arranging work to align with high- and low-energy periods. On extra-busy days, I just keep the coffee brewing and take comfort in the fact that I’m interrupted far less than if I were in an office.

Living Abroad has some excellent tools that make us very self-sufficient in our content management. We have the ability to interact with our content quickly and easily – even remotely.

It also helps to be organized. Over the years working from home, we’ve developed practices that work well to maintain our research library, manage our large database, share and store resources, and keep intact the institutional knowledge that comes with decades on the job. All of this helps us work efficiently, even on our own.

What about interacting with colleagues? Face-to-face contact is what I miss the most about an office. Those non-verbal cues you get from people about how their day’s going, and the water cooler conversations. But the prevalence of video calls now actually means we probably “see” each other just as much now – if not more – than before the pandemic.

Was there anything that was a tough work transition after the COVID shutdown? Yes, sharing my home base with my husband and grown son, who were also suddenly working from home. Our house is small, and we struggled to find space and quiet that worked for everyone. But we aimed for respect and patience. Our industry was going through so much change that it took all my brainpower to constantly adapt our skills and focus our offerings so that our clients remained supported and informed. All in all, we’ve been very fortunate.

Everyone’s jobs have changed in ways they never imagined over the past year. It will be interesting to see how the enforced remote work model of 2020 ends up disrupting the future workplace in all kinds of positive, flexible ways.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group