As we move through these challenging times and find new ways of working, three Indeedians across the globe share their experiences working remotely. They share what they love about it, their challenges and tips for those looking to work remotely in the long run.
In March 2020, Indeed announced it was moving its entire workforce – 10,000 employees globally – to a work from home structure. It has since announced the company will be working from home until at least July 2021, and recently announced new ways of working for employees, including the flexibility to go fully remote for certain roles with the organization.
But what did that mean for Indeed’s employees?
“Some people think that you can work remotely sitting by the beach with your laptop in one hand and a cocktail in the other. For me, remote work is still regular work, and to be efficient, you need to be well organized to separate work and personal time,” Mikhail Chernykh, a Staff Software Engineer based in Berlin says.
“I cannot imagine doing good engineering work without a desk and stable internet connection.”
He adds remote working has removed unnecessary boundaries and provides a lot of flexibility to organize his days better, and has found it has allowed him a “very special opportunity” to communicate and connect with colleagues from different Indeed offices all over the world.
“Sometimes, I start my day discussing a project with the team at the Tokyo office, moving slowly to various 1:1 meetings with Engineers in Hyderabad, and finishing my day in various team and guild meetings with a few locations in the US,” he shares.
For Emily Everix, a National Account Manager based in Florida, it’s the ability to spend more time with her family that has been a great benefit to working remotely.
“My absolute favourite thing is turning to my left and watching my son do whatever it is he is doing at that moment. Working remotely has given me this opportunity which has been invaluable to me.”
Although working remotely has its advantages, there are also challenges that come with this new way of working and living amidst the pandemic.
Emily says one of the misconceptions about working remotely is that “we just sit around and have all of this free time”, and has found herself working harder to counter that misconception.
“I almost feel like I have more to prove even though it is not the case at all.”
Mikhail shares one of the biggest challenges for him was the recent switch to the “pandemic mode” a few months ago. “It was a very uncertain time… No one had a clear answer as to when it will be over, or when we will get back to our normal lives.”
“As a Technical Leader, I had to be more empathic and help the team adjust to our new reality, share tips on how to organize their home offices, and make remote meetings more efficient. I have been a remote worker even prior to the pandemic, and even so, I had to change a lot in my personal life.”
For him, finding new activities helped him restore work-life balance: long walks, different sports activities, books, and playing different musical instruments.
Emily also added that she had to find a way to have a ‘cut-off’ from her work day. “I had to learn to say, ‘I’m done today’… it took me a long time to just switch off from work. I love my job! I love Indeed and I love everything about what I do, but I had to find a balance,” she says.
“This past summer, I’ve set the intention to be more present and focused on what I need to do by having a cut-off to my work day.”
Som Viswanath, a Senior Client Success Specialist based in Melbourne recalls his experience not just working remotely but also in lockdown during the pandemic in a podcast with Inside Indeed.
“We were restricted to a 5km radius from where we lived and we had to work from home,” Som says. “The one thing that changed before the pandemic was that I used to travel for work; I used to travel to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane to meet clients… I used to travel quite a bit and that got taken away from me. That was a real struggle for me.”
Having spent nearly most of the year working from home and remotely, Mikhail says his productivity hack is the separation of context.
“Having a dedicated quiet office room helps me focus and get deep work done. Also, we are humans after all, so it is crucial to take some breaks. I’m trying to achieve that by using the Pomodoro method and having a fixed lunch time in my calendar. I don’t consider myself a productivity ninja, but tools like ‘Things’, ‘Agenda’ and ‘Bear’ help me to organize my daily life,” Mikhail explains.
Emily adds that schedules are key: “I schedule everything from an important meeting to walking my dog. It might sound silly but I find those simple steps helps me stay on task and I am able to shut it down at night.”
Som agrees, adding: “A dedicated workspace and having pets around helps too… In addition, being connected at all times with your team is really important.”
Tips for more successful virtual meetings
With remote working, many if not all meetings are done virtually. Mikhail shares while there are limitations to virtual meetings, he’s managed to make virtual meetings more effective and efficient by following these steps:
- Ensure you have reliable internet connection. In case of technical difficulties, it’s always better to postpone the meeting
- Use a high-quality headset. It helps others hear you better, thus creating better communication during conversations
- Always come prepared. Ideally, share a document draft or a clear agenda prior to the meeting
- Try to keep meetings as short as possible. Recent studies show that virtual meetings require more focus and energy
- Find a person who can help write meeting notes. It will be very helpful to the rest of the group to reflect on agreements made during the meeting, and be better prepared for the next meeting
- If possible, turn your video on. Modern video conferencing tools have a virtual background feature that helps you hide your surroundings
- Many modern tools also provide a nice “reactions” feature. This is a very useful tool when running meetings with a lot of participants
To hear more about working remotely, listen in on this episode of our Culture Matters podcast.