St. Paul, MN — Remote work was a concept first introduced to me during my senior year of college. COVID-19 had only been around for a couple months and like many college students, all my classes were changed to asynchronous and held completely over Zoom.
Any luxuries of getting one-on-one support from my professors, receiving feedback from my peers, and having access to quiet spaces like the library to help me focus were indefinitely limited. Ultimately, I was left to learn material and work through assignments in a completely different way than I was used to. Not to mention make it to graduation on time.
It’s not new news that COVID-19 created a new normal for the workforce. And many companies, like mine, found remote work to be a great way to help people be more connected to their families and personal space, but also connect professionals across the country to new fields and industries.
Even though I have found remote work to be a beautiful thing (especially when I don’t want to leave my bed in the morning), it also has its challenges.
Recently, I’ve been reminded of all the effort it takes to get sh*t done through a computer screen. It can be isolating working from a room by yourself all day. Working remotely can also take your creativity on the worst roller coaster ride while trying to share your ideas through a Slack message. And it’s not easy trying to asking for what you need in a 30 minute Zoom meeting.
Believe me, I get it!
Balancing home and work life is hard. You’re not supposed to be perfect at managing it. Even now, almost a year into my new job, I’m reminded that college didn’t prepare me for any of this, and there are definitely days and weeks when I’m uncomfortable and have to find motivation.
I’m not a pro at making it all work without an office just yet, but I’ve been keeping track of all the things that have worked:
A coworking space. Having a coworking space that’s not far from my house has made a big difference. I like that it helps me transition between work and my home life, turning a light switch on and off on work. This is also where I found people to connect with, and it didn’t matter we were all doing different kinds of work. I’m lucky that my job helps pay for people to have this option.
Being the boss of my day. The advantage to working remotely is the freedom you have over your own work day without someone watching over you. It definitely makes you a lot more independent. I have my own Trello board to organize my work life with three simple columns: To Do's, Processing, and Finished. And at the end of each week, that long finished list feels great. Every week on Monday I refresh it.
Creating my own workosphere. Your remote office is your own domain. No one else sets it up for you, so there’s tons of freedom to be creative about your environment. If you’re working from home, treat your desk like an alter. Add your favorite pictures and nick-nacks to it. Set your own rhythm, as you move between tasks. I play lofi on YouTube for hours. I watch television on my lunch break. I go run errands sometimes.
I spent years dreaming about the day I would have my own cubicle in an office with my name plate and my plants. I’m not gonna lie, there are still days that I wish I could have that. Listen, there’s no such thing as a perfect workosphere, but it’s worth experimenting and finding what works because who knows if we’ll ever go back to the world of 2019.