This post is my second post of the weekly #EDUBLOGSCLUB, which you may sign up for by clicking here. Here’s how it works: After you sign up, you receive an email each Tuesday with a new blog prompt. Write a post in response to that prompt within the week, share it on social media with #EDUBLOGSCLUB, leave a comment on the club blog with a link to your post. In the process, gain knowledge of the blogging process, increase your confidence, learn from peers, and develop your PLN! How can you say no to that?
I work for CSU Channel Islands, a university located about 400 miles from my home. I work from home by choice and I love it. This is not my first remote position and from experience I have learned that not all remote work experiences are the same. Working from home is not the right fit for everyone. It’s not the right fit for every position. And it’s not the right fit for every organization.
I am a person who enjoys solitude. And I have an amazing team that not only supports my unique position, but sees it as a positive! Having a remote person on our team has enabled us to see the faculty development and support offerings we provide through the lens of someone who isn’t on campus — which describes a growing number of faculty. Time and place should not be barriers to faculty who want to improve their teaching and their students’ learning.
Humanizing the Remote Work Experience
Remote employment is on the rise and for good reason. A survey by TINYpulse (PDF link) found that 91% of remote workers feel more productive when they are working at home. The same survey showed that remote workers are happier and feel more valued than workers of all types, but have less established relationships with their peers. That last part is important to organizational development and employee retention. Higher education has not ventured very far into hiring remote workers, but this may change in the future. So understanding how to do it well is a critical conversation — and also one that keeps higher education connected to the realities our students will face in the workplace.
Working remotely can feel isolating and it can be tougher to form relationships with peers. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m part of a wonderful team who is committed to experimenting and ensuring we maintain a human connection across distance. We meet in person at least once per semester, but we “see” each other regularly (in 2d). These experimentations, by the way, are an important part of providing support for faculty who teach across a distance (which is a big part of what I do).
Here is a brief video I made last year that illustrates how my team works together. The video also lists some of the applications we use regularly to communicate and manage our tasks: Slack, Zoom, Wunderlist, and the Kubi telepresence robot (although, honestly, we haven’t used Kubi much recently).
With that said, working from home does require a more concerted effort to disconnect and be present. I know I’m not alone when I say this is something I work on…a lot. Also, being remote can cause barriers for me to get more involved across campus, particularly when a workplace is not used to working digitally (which is an issue my team is tackling!). It also limits my opportunities for career advancement within the organization. For now, however, the benefits of working from home far outweigh the drawbacks for this employee.
A lair is defined as “
1: Webcam View
I have an HD webcam that provides a high quality image of me for those I interact with via live and asynchronous video. I have a window in my office just above my webcam, which provides frontal lighting. As many of you know, frontal light is key to ensuring you don’t appear in shadow when recording from your webcam. I also have mindfully hung photos behind me so the webcam view of my office is aesthetically pleasing.
2. Behind the Scenes View
This is what my office looks like from the doorway peering into the room. It is a small space. In fact, it wasn’t in existence when we bought the house. After two years of working from a corner in my bedroom, we made the decision to make use of a narrow, long area of our second story that had no floor. Before my office was built, we had a high ceiling upon walking through our front door. Now there is a lower ceiling, which provides the floor to my office.
My office is small, but I love it. I painted it a calming color (“Mindful Grey”) and have inspirational quotes placed on my wall, which I like to read on difficult days. I try, at all costs, to avoid printing things. If it’s on paper, it’s lost. I have a healthy snack on hand (right now, pistachios). In this view you can also see the window and artwork I referred to above. The second monitor allows me to keep Slack open and visible at all times, which is my team’s main communication portal. When I leave my desk, my phone is with me and Slack notifies me of incoming messages. I’m also currently working on starting a new podcast and in this photo you can see my Yeti mic on a boom arm with a purple pop filter. I have a USB mic on my desk, which I use for voice-only recordings (like VoiceThread).
That’s my lair.
Do you work remotely? What works well for you and what doesn’t?