Lauren Antonian Works Remotely
Manager, Proposal Development
Fulltime Remote Worker Employee
How and why did you start working remotely?
I requested the option due to difficulties with the commute to the nearest office.
What advice would you give someone considering a remote job?
Consider what you will miss about the office environment and find ways to recreate it or compensate for it. For example, if you are an extrovert who enjoys socializing with colleagues, make a point to communicate with them via instant message or email as you would have if you were available in person. Also, working remotely will require a lot of self-discipline both to keep you focused on your work as well as to set healthy boundaries for work/life balance.
How did you convince your company to let you work remotely?
Through 1:1 conversations, I prepared a business case based on my ability to be more productive if I could spare myself the lengthy commute and the feasibility of the remote working option based on similar departments in the company that had already implemented the option. In fact, at Anthem there is a policy that guides associates through the process of requesting and implementing flexible arrangements such as telecommuting.
What are the biggest benefits to working remotely?
Flexibility of time is the greatest benefit. For example, for parents it allows them the opportunity to pick up and drop off children from school or care without missing work; working from home also means being available to your family sooner. And, an often overlooked benefit of working from home means there are less distractions from colleagues.
What are the greatest challenges to working remotely?
It’s important to make the effort to retain social connections because they are not innately available to you. In short, it can get lonely. Another downside is the misconceptions and perceptions of others based on your remote work situation. For example, spouses and significant others often expect that if you are working from home, then you should be able to not only do your job but also manage household chores. Often peers and relatives doubt whether or not you have a bona fide job if you don’t go to a worksite to do it.
Do you keep a regular remote work schedule? What is it?
Yes. I sign on at 8 a.m. and remain available until 5 p.m. On occasion, I will adjust these hours based on my personal needs, as agreed upon by my manager. In general, based on my availability and workload, I will likely work more than the 8-hour shift, because it’s accessible to me.
How do you avoid becoming distracted when working remotely?
I limit distractions by creating a dedicated space for working that is not part of any personal space.
What is a remote work pain point, and how do you address it?
Technical difficulties abound in any modern-day work environment. But when working remotely, there is no advantage of an on-site help technician. Resourcefulness in troubleshooting technical difficulties and understanding available resources that can assist are the solution.
Do you use coworking spaces? What are the best ones?
I don’t use coworking spaces. Though I did attempt to cowork with friends, who also worked remotely. If the individual does not share your work ethic and practices, it’s not successful.
What gear can't you work remotely without?
- Bluetooth headset
- Wireless mouse
- VPN token
What apps or websites can't you work remotely without?
- MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
- Chrome browser
- Web-based CMS
- Skype/Lync (instant messaging)
- Sticky Notes app
Do you work from a home office? How is it organized?
An extra bedroom in the house is set up as a dedicated office. It includes a desk setup with a docking station, monitor, keyboard, mouse. It includes chargers for all devices. A bookcase houses office equipment such as a printer, notebooks, writing utensils, post-its, etc. I use a mobile phone instead of a landline for business. I use my home Wi-Fi to connect via VPN.
How do you stay in touch with virtual teammates?
I make an effort to instant message my teammates on a daily basis, rotating through teammates throughout the week to socialize. Often times during a shared conference call, I will instant message them to share my reaction and gather insight on their point of view.
Do you have tips for saving money while working remotely?
Without a daily commute, you may be able to cut down on an extra car. Some companies may offer reimbursements for a utility like home Internet service.
What’s the hardest part about working with a traditional team while you’re remote?
The hardest part is not being able to meet the individuals and create a connection with them; it can be ostracizing. To overcome it, I try to use video technology or share photos and I make an effort to communicate with the team so they know I’m part of the team. For example, I will share job aids or cheat sheets I’ve created for myself with the whole team so that there is a sense of sharing and dependability amongst us, even though I’m not on-site with the rest of the team.
What’s the best way to find a remote job?
Look for jobs at Fortune 50 companies. Large companies with a nationwide footprint tend to be in the top 50 of Fortune’s list and, due to their national presence, are more likely to have remote working options.
Would you consider returning to a traditional office job, or are you remote for life?
I think I might be remote for life. However, given the right circumstances, I would not completely rule out the option.
How has working remotely impacted your career plans?
It has not limited my career options at my current company.
How do you stay connected with your local community?
I volunteer for a local nonprofit and I serve on my local neighborhood association.
How do you stay connected to your professional community virtually?
I participate in an employee resource group designed for remote workers.
How has your remote job impacted your life outside of work?
It has allowed me to be a caregiver to my mother and grandmother. It has allowed me to participate in my spouse’s career development because I was available to do so. And, it has also afforded me extra time to pursue hobbies such as bike riding and playing golf.
How has working remotely impacted your family life?
It has allowed us to cut down to only one car, and carpool. For example, on days when I may need the car, I can give my spouse a ride to work.
How does working remotely impact your diet?
It can be positive or negative. If you keep your refrigerator stocked, then food is always available and just a few steps away. However, if you have dietary restrictions, then you can control your options at all times, never having to resort to vending machine sustenance.
How do you cope with feeling lonely while working remotely?
When I begin to feel lonely I schedule lunch dates with local friends and family.
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