On October 25th, scholarly publishing professionals from around the Triangle in North Carolina put aside their work for a couple hours to join the SSP Durham chapter at the Research Square headquarters for an interactive discussion on telecommuting challenges and best practices.
Our three speakers kicked things off:
Jaime Campbell Fox (American Journal Experts) stressed the importance of intentional team building and manager flexibility regarding the varied communication styles of remote workers
Christa Walker (SAGE Publishing) recommended setting appropriate boundaries and expectations with family and friends, as well as co-workers;
Chhavi Chauhan (American Society for Investigative Pathology) shared her personal journey to stay relevant and visible – and to have her efforts acknowledged – as the only remote worker in her organization.
After a round of questions, the 35 attendees split up into small brainstorming groups to share anecdotes – turns out there were not many fans of BlueJeans or WebEx! – and discuss various challenges. Here are some of the tips related to the larger group:
- Be honest with yourself about what you need to have a productive working environment – it’s OK if you don’t do well working alone in your home office every day!
- Set core hours for your team to make sure there’s overlap for folks in different time zones.
- At the same time, be strict about when your workday ends. You don’t need to answer your cell phone if someone calls after hours! Add your working hours to your company email signature and Teams/Slack profile, and most importantly, be respectful of co-workers.
- Don’t give into work-from-home guilt and work excessive hours to meet an imagined standard of productivity. Remind yourself there are times when in-office workers are not 100% focused on a task.
- When there’s no physical separation between work and home, it’s difficult to disconnect. Meditate for 5-10 minutes to reset after work.
- If you still find yourself struggling to separate work from your home life, consider “commuting” to your home office by taking a one-mile walk around your neighborhood. If you aren’t able to easily put the work down, you could “commute” home with a walk in the opposite direction.
- Team building can be more challenging when some, or most, team members work remotely. It’s important that managers allow space for people to share who they are and where they come from with the team. One suggestion was for individuals to take the team on a “photo walking tour” of their city or local neighborhood. Another team building idea: create designated channels on Teams or Slack for nonwork chat – some suggestions include “Crowd Sourcing” or “Pets”.
- Use video, including screen sharing calls, whenever possible, to facilitate communication.
- Working from home can be even more sedentary than working in an office. Get a FitBit or set-up reminders to get moving!
We invite you to learn from these tips as we did, and to share with us any additional tips you may have! Do you telecommute full-time or part-time? Are you curious about telecommuting? Let us know—we’d love to keep the conversation going.
Chhavi Chauhan, PhD, Director of Scientific Affairs, American Society for Investigative Pathology
Jaime Campbell Fox, PhD, Team Manager, American Journal Experts
Christa Walker, Associate Editor, Open Access Journals, SAGE Publishing
Megan M. McCarty (J&J Editorial) and Molly Hansen (Oxford University Press)