Gone are the days of 9-5 schedules and employees feeling chained to their desks. *cue resounding celebration of the masses* Working from home breaks numerous barriers for parents and caretakers, and employees are adapting with great strides. However, many employers are still learning how to make the “WFH” arrangement as successful as possible. At Pierce PR, we’ve valued a hybrid work environment since our early days.
Boy mom and Pierce PR Director of Operations Sarah Mickle has become a pro at managing both her to-do list and her toddler’s temper tantrums. We asked her how Pierce PR has helped her achieve her vision of being a working and present mother. Here’s what she said:
When working remotely, there must be complete trust between both parties. If mutual trust is broken, this arrangement simply won’t work. We have a standard rule of thumb that’s been beneficial for trust, as well as communication— if a team member is going to be “out of office” for more than an hour, we let each other know when we’re leaving and when we’ll be back online. This way, we’re not MIA for other team members and an expected time of return is established.
Your employer should feel confident that you will always get the job done, and you won’t need any hand-holding. Be upfront and honest about timeframes and expectations.
Put your best foot forward (even if the other one is hobbling)
Even if you’re lacking sleep, show up to virtual meetings well-groomed, well-dressed and fully caffeinated. Your house may be chaotic, but your background should be tidy (use a virtual background if the mess just can’t be cleaned up at that moment). Be prepared— have answers ready for questions and be as fully present as possible during meetings. Staying engaged communicates that you are giving your all, even if it looks different from others.
It’s easy for words to get lost in translation when you’re not communicating in-person. At Pierce PR, we use Slack all day, every day. From the moment we start our days, we are submitting projects for review, requesting design insights, handling client requests, etc. We also have standing MWF Zoom meetings to ensure we’re aligned on priorities and asking for help when we need it.
Remember that your colleagues can’t always see if you’re working. Simple statements like the following will ensure mutual success – “Hey, I know we talked about XYZ project last week, and I want to make sure you know it’s still on my radar and I plan to submit it for review by EOD Thursday.” Clarity and communication are kindness.
Do not miss a deadline
Just like you wouldn’t miss your kid’s doctor appointment, don’t miss your work deadline. Just. Don’t. (See comments about trustworthiness above.)
The beauty of a flexible schedule is that you can work on a big project at the time that works best for you. Touch base with those involved if you’re going to be behind. Likewise, you should make a point to always be on time (if not early) to virtual meetings, and be present for your team and clients when it really counts.
Maximize every moment of your day
Is your toddler napping? Brew another cup of coffee and work as fast and furious as you can while you have quiet time. Making dinner? Have your laptop open on the counter and knock out some tasks while you’re waiting for water to boil. Running an errand? Take a call (safely) on the way there. You really can do both jobs successfully. It just requires creativity and intention.
Bonus tip: equip yourself for success
Give yourself permission to outsource some responsibilities. You can hire a house cleaner, schedule a regular sitter during the day and use grocery/meal delivery services. It’s also important to be resolute with your “me” time. I’m so grateful to have a job that energizes and fulfills me, but balancing this lifestyle requires a great deal of mental energy. Make sure you’re not pouring from an empty cup.
Working remotely can create challenges, but it can also enable you to be a present caregiver and team member if you have a routine and schedule that works for you.
Sarah Mickle is the Director of Operations at Pierce Public Relations