Working from Home Full Time: Pros and Cons from the Caster Crew
Many businesses around the country are shifting their operations from the norm. Caster, too, has temporarily shut its brick-and-mortar doors and has transitioned to a full-time, all-remote workforce (though we’re still highly available and highly productive, per the norm). While our favorite Canadian Erin Phillips works remotely for the Caster Crew year-round (and a few other members of our team regularly take advantage of a weekly remote workday), going full-time, full-on virtual is new for the whole team and is yet another lifestyle change we have to adjust to now that we’re all living that #quarantinelife.
So, how does the Caster Crew feel about working remotely full time? One work week into our new, virtual office life, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons.
PRO: More Flexibility, Fitness, and Family Time
Across the board, the Caster Crew is enjoying letting go of their commutes and having more time in the day to exercise, spend quality time with friends and family, and prioritize other personal needs.
“I see my family constantly, and I am home in time for dinner, and that has been really nice.” – Kimberly Lancaster, President and Founder
“The thing I appreciate about working from home is the bit of extra pull towards family life. 100% of the time I got back from driving to and from work…ha[s] been soaked up by time on the phone with my parents and other family members…” – Kyra Casioppo, Office Administrator
“Not having to commute has given me back time in the morning, so I’m not rushing around as much and can sleep in a little later. It’s also nice to be at home when I’m done with work and able to try to decompress much sooner.” – Alexandra Gil, Account Supervisor
“The flexibility is giving a lot of folks time to find additional balance between things like fitness and family.” – Pete Girard, Account Supervisor
PRO: Collaboration Tools Actually Kind of Work
And for those of us who were afraid of leaving behind our desks and daily work routines (myself included!), many of us have discovered that remote work is not as scary as it sounds.
“It’s positive for writing, where it’s quiet and my team is on email if they need anything.” – Laura Shubel, Senior Account Executive
“With emails, Slack, and even quick phone calls, I’ve found it is still pretty easy to get in touch with my teammates.” – Payton St. Lawrence, Account Coordinator
“Everyone is taking more breaks of their own to have lunch or go for a walk, etc. Now that I’m not alone in working alone, I feel less (self-induced) pressure to be available at any given moment. Just knowing everyone is in the same boast has led me to feel less stressed about my response time, which in a way has also increased my efficiency by allowing me to do more uninterrupted, deep work.” – Erin Phillips, Account Manager
CON: Missing Out on Face-to-Face Time
Of course, while there have been many delightful surprises and perks of trading the office environment for a work-from-home lifestyle, not everyone is dreaming about a permanent switch to full-time remote work.
“I do not like working from home. I am less organized, I’m interrupted more, something always doesn’t work, I’m less structured. The way I structure my day at work can’t work the same at home, because my ‘office area’ is a public space, and it’s adjacent to everything else in the house.” – Kimberly Lancaster, President and Founder
“I find that for myself, it actually takes more time to keep in touch with people electronically than it does when we’re all in one place…At home, there are just different distractions.” – Kyra Casioppo, Office Administrator
“It’s been really tough not seeing the team in person—I miss everyone and interacting and chatting through things with people face-to-face.” – Alexandra Gil, Account Supervisor
“One of my favorite things about Caster is how close we are as a team. I love how we have team lunches, meetings, and brainstorming sessions weekly. Working from home takes away the ability to have this face-to-face time with teammates.” – Payton St. Lawrence, Account Coordinator
“It does stifle in-person communication and collaboration entirely, something the Caster team is always trying to improve and use.” – Laura Shubel, Senior Account Executive
TIPS: Finding a New Norm
The Caster Crew is nimble and quick on our feet, so team members have already found ways to adapt to their new settings to keep working at top productivity.
“I think that having a dedicated space that you use for work is crucial. It helps you focus and feel like you have a ‘work place,’ where you spend your work time versus a ‘home place,’ where you hang out and enjoy time not working.” – Alexandra Gil, Account Supervisor
“I set up my desk at home the same way that I have it set up at work, which has been helpful in keeping me in work-mode and not getting distracted.” – Lexie Gardiner, Account Coordinator
“Shutting the door to my home office has been key too. There’s no one here but me, but shutting the door physically closes off this space [and] helps my brain associate it with getting work done.” – Pete Girard, Account Supervisor
“Like at the Caster office, I’m trying to make time away from my desk for writing and a change of scenery. I’m spending time at my desk setup, but also moving to my dining room table when I hand-write articles.” – Laura Shubel, Senior Account Executive
And to help us ease transition (as there’s no telling right now how long we’ll be working remotely!), our resident work-from-home expert, Erin, is sharing her top tips:
Create a dedicated workspace that gives you the physical and mental head space to work efficiently and reduce distraction.
Keep your morning routine! I cannot stress this enough…you will be more alert and prepared to tackle your day if you wash up, put on clean (though comfy!) clothes, and brew that much needed cup of caffeine before sitting down.
Stand up, take short breaks, eat a snack, and get fresh air…When you get back to your desk, you’re bound to be more energized and productive.
Stay social while social distancing….Pause on sending that email, and call or FaceTime your co-workers to review a project instead. Regular interaction with your team can lead to improved collaboration and relationship building.
A LOOK AHEAD: Is Remote Work the Future?
Caster isn’t alone—most companies deemed “non-essential,” (i.e., those who aren’t supplying food, medical supplies, alcohol, etc.) are shifting to full-time remote work during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and this sudden change is sparking conversations on whether or not businesses will permanently transition to remote work when this is all over.
“I think hybrid approaches for people who have long commutes and are losing productive time or compromising family time because of commuting should have work-from-home options.” – Kimberly Lancaster, President and Founder
“It’s difficult for me to imagine working from home as the future of work, because, as a whole, I think human beings are more pack-oriented than not. We tend towards groups, and we like to have a place to go.” – Kyra Casioppo, Office Administrator
“I think working from home could potentially be the future of work for some industries that don’t require as much teamwork and collaboration as PR. Although I think this could happen, I don’t necessarily think it should. It’s important for people to have structure to their day, and knowing you have to get to work at a certain time helps that structure.” – Payton St. Lawrence, Account Coordinator
“While working from home isn’t as bad as it sounds and can definitely come with some perks…, I don’t think it will ever truly replace the office setting. Especially from a PR perspective, the relationship we have with our account teams are robust and collaborative, and I think having the option to communicate face-to-face and huddle together to brainstorm brings value to those relationships.” – Lexie Gardiner, Account Coordinator
“After this is all done, I think companies that traditionally did not allow WFH will loosen restrictions and allow more of it for employees…I don’t think the modern office will be abolished after this, but I do expect more people to request the ability to WFM or work remotely more often as part of their jobs.” – Pete Girard, Account Supervisor
“The working-from-home boom that’s happening now is fascinating. We’re social distancing physically, but we’re closer together than ever online…It feels like the future to try the digital version of everything as we keep a social distance. It can’t continue long-term for all professions, but I think more people will be receptive to working remotely after this is over.” – Laura Shubel, Senior Account Executive
Like my colleagues, I see the advantages and disadvantages of working from home full time—and it definitely does take some getting used to. Do I think we should shift as a community to full-time, all-remote work? Absolutely not—but I do think that it should absolutely be offered as an option for those who need or desire it.
What’s your take on the work-from-home scenario, and how are you managing working while quarantined? Let me know @merryshoebell.