A Voices of Parsec post

The downsides of remote work that no one wants to talk about, and what to do about them

Welcome back to Voices of Parsec, the blog series that brings you the unique perspectives of the folks who make Parsec. Previously, we shared our personal takes on remote work. If you were thinking, “Gosh, that post certainly wasn’t verbose enough,” don’t worry. We’ve got more to say. Let’s start with me.

Stephanie Polizzi Treyz, Senior Copywriter @ Parsec, on taking the good with the bad

Acceptance of remote-friendly workplaces roughly coincided with the birth of my son. And boy, you don’t appreciate the freedom to work from a laptop in bed until you’re a parent who’s gotten 3 hours of sleep. (I’m telling you, small naps in between meetings. You’ll feel like a whole new person!)

I also suffer from chronic migraines. Earlier in my career, I’d have to take a whole sick day, commute 1.5 hours home from the office, and hide in the dark with an ice pack until I felt better. Day. Ruined. Now, a dark place to nap is literally steps away. Give me a couple of hours, and I can actually salvage some of that day.

Remote work has given me back so much time. I can plan my workday around family obligations and my own health, optimizing the time I have down to the minute. (Seriously, I do not miss that commute one bit). But… it comes at a cost. And sometimes it’s a cost I’m very bitter about paying.

Remote work give you time in exchange for isolation. Gone are the days you could grab coffee with your coworkers and idly talk about the new episode of Game of Thrones. In a Slack-forward workplace, you have to make a conscious effort to message folks and ask how they’re doing. No “good morning” in the elevator, no scooting past them to get to your desk. No small acts of human connection that seemed so effortless in the past.

As for that commute I don’t miss? I didn’t realize how much it got me moving. How far I actually walked, and how it took me outside, into the fresh–err, foggy/smoggy–air. So, which is it, then? Do I like or dislike remote work? Well, both. And neither.

A successful remote workplace enables what works for each individual employee. But it’s on you to discover what’s best for you and advocate for it. I’ve settled into a hybrid work situation, heading into the office when it’s convenient or the isolation is too much. I track my steps, which motivates me to get outside more and really drives home how much (or little) I’ve moved from my desk any given day. It’s a work (from home?) in progress.

Eric Zierse, Product Marketing Lead @ Parsec, on how an extrovert navigates the social aspect of remote work

I’ve never been one to appreciate working from home. I’m just not built for it. I’m social by nature, and my job has been one of my major outlets for interaction with other human beings. More than that, however, I find that working near my coworkers is an important source of information gathering—overhearing what they’re discussing, how their projects are pivoting, and what frustrations they’re encountering helps me understand how I can support them and how they can support me.

I’ve learned to rely on all these things, both for my personal satisfaction and my professional success.

The forced transition to remote work was, obviously, hard for me. I actually had a little bit of a breakdown when I was no longer able to engage with my team in the same ways I had. My depression flared up, my anxiety levels were high, and my ability to meet my goals was reduced. But it was a pandemic. What could I do?

I found these frustrations persisted, across a couple different employers. But my time at Parsec/SyncSketch changed all that. For obvious reasons, both of these organizations know remote (and now hybrid) work.

There are a few things that have helped me embrace this new normal:

  • Regular meetings with faces on. I know it can get exhausting to see yourself day in and day out on Zoom, WebEx, or whatever, but something about seeing a grin at your joke, a smile at your success, or genuine concern when you talk about how hard your week has been means the world.

  • Open, honest dialogue and the space to provide it. Our leader has discussed her desire to create a team that trusts one another, and the key to that is vulnerability. I’ve talked about my depression, complications with family, difficult tasks within my job function—and my team reciprocates. We’re more than just coworkers to one another, and that means we’re eager to engage over the tools needed to make remote work… well, work.

  • Long, undirected coworking sessions. Every company meets up for regular team meetings, progress reports, and time to plan or review projects. But we schedule time to just… work on our own things. Copywriters write, social managers check feeds and reply, and campaign managers craft and check ads, but we do so together, as individuals. We often talk about what we’re working on, ask for quick feedback when we’re stuck, or combine talents to quickly solve a problem.

Together each of these things has helped me replicate the most important aspects of working in the office while getting to embrace having my cat on my lap. I’ve come to terms with working from home because Parsec—specifically, the VP who plans and organizes our Marketing team—gets it.

Nate Philip, Marketing Automation Consultant @ Unity, with some actually handy tips in navigating a remote or hybrid workplace

Working remotely has risks and benefits whether you’re in a remote mountain lodge or in the middle of San Francisco. Here are 5 tips and tricks I’ve learned since I started WFH’ing in 2014:

1. Bring some life into your at-home workspace. You could get a cute houseplant, make sure your pet has a chill space in your work area, or just move your desk so it’s near a window. Don’t let your space turn into a prison cell.

2. Make sure your smartphone has tethering. Even if you’re not a road warrior, it’s important to get out of the house and being able to set up an office space with wi-fi in your car/a park/a café will help you achieve that work-life balance.

3. Working remotely is a spectrum and communication is key to making it work right. Some teams are most productive with just one day a week remote, some are fine being 100% remote. Don’t be too rigid, especially if your team is transitioning away from an office environment.

4. Flat team structures work best for remote teams. If your team is too hierarchical, you may get bogged down waiting for things that could be done in-person by a quick trot around the office. Consider restructuring roles if you’re struggling to get things done and approved in a timely manner.

5. Be overt about time zones! Especially with distributed teams, don’t expect everyone to know what part of the world you’re in. You should always include a time zone when trying to schedule your next meeting.

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