If you've ever found yourself working on a presentation in a coffee shop lounge or taking a conference call from your home office, you’re not alone. A 2017 Gallup study reported that in 2016, 43% of people in the United States spent some time working remotely. The benefits associated with remote working are indicators that this trend may have a strong impact on the future of work culture in businesses around the world.
Remote working may be a choice for some. For others, like myself, it’s a necessity. When I moved to New York City last year to pursue a Master’s degree, I was lucky enough to be able to keep my job in the digital marketing department at Mitel. However, my work life was completely transformed when I had to trade the familiarity of the office in Plano, Texas for the uncharted waters of the remote role I now assumed in the nation’s largest city. Often working solely out of my apartment as the demands of school and work grew, it wasn’t until summer break the following year where I truly took on my remote position in its full capacity.
Here’s what one of those summer weeks as a remote worker looked like:
Mondays are perfect days to work from home. It softens the Monday plunge back into work. Without a commute, I don’t feel overwhelmed by the morning rush that so many others experience as they are getting ready for work. I get to ease into my work routine with a fresh mind knowing I don’t have to deal with sweaty, crowded trains or delays.
I start the morning by getting up around seven. I simply walk across the room, turn my computer on, and log in, fully satisfied knowing I get to work in the comfort of my own home. By the time my computer boots up and is ready to go, I’m showered and breakfast is served. I check my emails while I eat, whether on my laptop or on my phone with the mobile app.
By the time others are starting to settle in and start their work days around nine, I’ve already been at my desk working on my tasks. One of my favorite things about working from home is that I can take the time I would otherwise spend getting to and from the office and be more productive with it. This extra punch of productivity comes especially handy during the semester when I look to squeeze additional work hours in whenever I can.
Another thing I like about my well-connected remote working arrangement is my ability to do all my work with nothing but my laptop and my phone. With applications like MiCollab, I can take calls on my mobile or via the softphone client on my computer. I don’t have a need for a bunch of hardware to take up valuable space in my already tiny apartment.
At lunchtime, I usually face a choice between staying in my apartment for the rest of the day or going elsewhere, like one of the many coffee shops in my part of Brooklyn. I choose the latter if a change of scenery would be beneficial, as is often the case when working on creative projects. Thankfully, all I need to do is pack my laptop, charger, and phone, and I can resume my work from anywhere. I love having all my work tools available on my phone and the flexibility they offer in terms of choosing a location to work from.
As much as I love not having to commute to an office, Tuesdays are a great day to visit the NYC Mitel office on Broadway. Usually, this is a day that is peppered with back-to-back calls. Having a stable environment from which to take them helps me focus. To accommodate for time spent on the subway, I get up earlier and skip the pleasantries, like coffee—the office will have me covered.
About an hour later, I’m face-to-face with the bright lights of Times Square. New Yorkers will roll their eyes at this, but personally, I love Times Square. I don’t mind the hordes of tourists (I was once one myself) as I make my way from the subway stop to the office building. Soaking up all the artificial light emanating from the billboards reminds me that I’m lucky to be working near such an iconic place, and it gives me a sense of belonging to something greater than myself.
Once at the seventh-floor office (located a few blocks from the center of Times Square), I stop by the kitchen to get coffee and a light snack before settling down at my desk. I love how easy it is to integrate back into office life. As soon as I establish an internet connection, I’m good to go.
Since I do my work at home on my work laptop, I can easily resume projects on the same device in the office. Even if I housed large files on the shared cloud storage drive, they’re available to me anywhere I can access the internet. Plus, they don’t have to configure a whole new phone every time I visit. I can simply use my credentials to log into the phone on whichever desk I choose (hotdesking)—and make and receive calls just like it were my permanent desk phone.
Many of my calls on Tuesdays are video calls, and it’s nice having the office as a professional alternative to my usual backdrop—whether it’s my clothing rack at home or my bare apartment walls. I usually join video conferences with the Mitel video conferencing app installed on my laptop. It’s a great tool for talking with my coworkers. Most of them are either back at the office in Plano or at other offices around the globe, and having the ability to get together during video calls eliminates many of the hurdles of not being not present in the home office.
For half an hour to an hour at a time, I feel as if I’m actually there with my coworkers. Seeing their body language and facial expressions give me more input, feedback and sense of belonging than a simple voice call ever could.
At 5 p.m. I pack my things and head home, but not before savoring one last bit of the bright city lights.
Wednesday & Thursday
These two days typically follow Monday’s routine. If something were to come up, like a doctor’s appointment, or if I were in class like I am during the academic year, I put myself at ease knowing that even without my work laptop, I’m always available for a quick chat message or group chat if a question from work comes up that just can’t wait.
Summer Fridays tend to be my most interesting days. At the very least, they’re the most mobile. There are weeks when I’ve been able to take the day off and enjoy a three-day weekend. Even if I don’t take the whole day off, working a half-day is not uncommon. After all, summer in the city is great, and the less I can be cooped up inside my apartment, the better.
Normally, I start the day off like I usually do. But, in order to better maximize my free time later on in the day, I pick a coffee shop near the area I know I will be after work and head there early. I take with me whatever I may need, whether it’s a camera, museum tickets, or a light lunch. This often makes me feel like I’m working while travelling, even if I’m just moving around locally.
There was one Friday I took a weekly wrap-up video call on my mobile from Staten Island. No wi-fi? No problem. With MiCollab and Mitel video conferencing both being available as mobile apps, I can take calls anywhere without internet so long as I have enough mobile data to take the call.
This kind of mobility is excellent for a remote worker like me, and it’s useful in plenty of other scenarios. There have been instances in which I’ve had difficulty connecting to a coffee shop network, or even my own at home. When there’s a vital meeting I have to attend, I can rely on the tools on my mobile device. No matter where I am within the five boroughs, I can be counted on to be available and to meet deadlines.
The days to come
My remote working story is just one story, but I hope it helps you see what kind of possibilities you can open up when you equip employees with the tools to work remotely. They can further their education and add to their skill set. They can get an added punch of creativity. They can be closer to family, but still close to work. They can find little productivity boosts by avoiding some of the pitfalls that plague traditional workers. And you can get access to a much wider talent pool, while still keeping them connected to the team, almost like they’re in the room. Contact us to find out more about the possibilities. For now, I’ve got a train to catch.