cyBARR Chats Episode 1: Remote Work: Before and After Coronavirus

By April 27, 2020Videos

In Episode One, Jen Knobel, marketing manager, shares tips on how to stay productive and healthy while working from home, along with providing insight into the future of remote work.


Michelle Smith: [00:00:00] Hi everyone. And welcome to cyBARR Chats. A video series featuring BARR experts discussing a range of topics from cybersecurity, best practices and the impacts of the Corona virus to remote work tips and staying productive while staying home.

I’m Michelle Smith, director of marketing and strategic partnerships here at BARR.

And today I’m speaking with Jen noble marketing manager. Jen wears many hats here at BARR, including technical writer, social media manager, and all around idea making machine. And she’s also worked from home in some capacity for the past 10 years. So today we’re going to be discussing what remote work looked like before this pandemic, what it looks like now, and some tips.

So Jen, you are no stranger to remote work. And BARR has been an entirely remote company since its founding. What would you say is the biggest difference or differences between what remote work was before coronavirus and what it is now?

Jen Knobel: [00:01:04] So truthfully. As someone who, like you said, has worked from home in different capacities for a long time, this is drastically different.

there’s a variety of reasons why, but I think the biggest one and a lot of people can relate to this as. We just have constant interruptions. I think during the pandemic, we’ve got a lot of us have kids at home. I have two kids at home, a hundred working remotely alongside you, which is interesting too.

but the ability to sit down and really concentrate on one thing for anything extended period of time is much shorter than pre pandemics. So that’s a huge difference. and then with my husband here, we’re both kind of just bouncing responsibilities back and forth, like a kid’s cooking and cleaning all of that stuff that, you know, a lot of them, the kids would eat at school.

Now we’re cooking lunch for the whole family cooking dinner for the whole family. So it’s just responsibilities are stretched a little bit more thinly. And then the last big difference, I would say. That I’ve noticed is just the days seem to run together more than they did pre COVID. And I think that’s because we had things to break up the days a little bit better.

before the pandemic, you know, now it’s just kind of a hodgepodge of work and, and playing with the kids, keeping up with the house, et cetera, a lot of walks, we’re going a lot of walks. but our schedules, we just don’t have places to go things to do anymore. So that’s a huge difference. And I think that.

With the days running together more, that definitely makes that remote work piece more complicated.

Michelle Smith: [00:02:42] Absolutely. So for those who are pretty new to remote work, what are some tips for juggling work, home life, family, all in one space and staying productive.

Jen Knobel: [00:02:54] Yeah. So. A lot of these will work now. And then, then for people who work remotely beyond the pandemic.

So my biggest tip is go easy on and yourself, especially now, this is not a typical remote work situation, especially for people who’ve never done it before. I’m very experienced in it. And it’s. It’s more of a struggle now, for sure. So you you’ve likely heard this before to another tip that I have that think is really important right now is we have a list of projects and to do is pick the one that you don’t want to do the most.

And do that first in the morning, I’ve noticed with myself as hard as that is to do, if you tackle that project that you just find confusing. Maybe it’s you have a lot of questions about it. Maybe it’s kind of boring to you, whatever the case, just do that first. And then the rest of your tattoos are like cakewalk the rest of the day.

Michelle Smith: [00:03:48] You know, that reminds me of the, I think it’s its a Mark Twain quote, maybe about eating the frog. Have you heard of that?

Jen Knobel: [00:03:54] No.

Michelle Smith: [00:03:57] If you know, you have to eat a frog today, that do it in the morning. And so I think that’s the same similar concept. Yeah. Like, I know, I don’t know where that came from, but I know that you have the most challenging or the worst day out of that.

Everything else is going to be, it’s like an optimistic thing after that. Everything else just seems easier, you know? that’s so funny. I think another tip is. Something that is important, no matter what, just being available, because a lot of times we are pulled in a lot of directions and just make sure it’s easy for your manager or your coworkers.

Definitely your clients to get ahold of the view. otherwise. Things just don’t work well. And then definitely don’t sweat the small stuff. I think background noise. He used to be kind of a Knownow on calls and people are definitely more understanding about this now. and I don’t really see that changing.

I think that will become the new norm, which is refreshing, but I feel like hearing someone’s. Toddlers screaming for goldfish in the background just makes me appreciate them more for sure. Absolutely. It’s kind of a way it relaxes you a little bit. I will say that I love seeing your two year old on our video.

Jen Knobel: [00:05:10] She makes frequent appearances for sharing. Something else that I want to mention definitely are tools that I recommend. I’m just going to go through kind of a list I could go on and on about this, but you definitely need some kind of. Instant messaging tool. We use Slack at our, as you know, Michelle and that works really well for us.

We also use the G suite through Google, which helps a lot of your collaborative waiting on documents, because you can do that in real time together. There’s not that same thing and sharing of different versions, which can. Lead to a lot of confusion and mistakes. So I recommend the G suite. I also think as someone working remotely, you need a project management tool and we use it Trello at BARR, which I love it.

Let’s you make your to do lists and see all your deadlines. And yeah, you can even collaborate with other people on different to do lists, which is great. And if I can squeeze in one more tip something that really helps me. And I think is vital when you’re working from home is to designate a stop time and make that consistent.

Because if you don’t do that, it’s really tough to draw a line between working from home and living at home and you need to be able to do that.

Michelle Smith: [00:06:29] Absolutely great tips. So do you see a silver lining with remote work? Do you have any benefits that you would recommend people take advantage? of. Yes, obviously.

Jen Knobel: [00:06:38] Yes. I love working remote. I’ve been doing it for a long time. There are so many benefits to it of the obvious things are you can take kind of small breaks, I think when you need them versus when you can kind of work. And then when you’re in an office setting, and overall doing that. At least for myself makes me more productive overall.

you can also last year music dress more casually, which is, which is a perk. I’m able to take a quick break and pick my kids up from school, which is really important for me. Just helps me feel like I have a little bit better work life balance, being there for them at that time of the day. There’s no commute, which is great saves gas money, and then more time at home, obviously with that as well.

And then there’s kind of the health factor of, you know, you can make your homemade lunches, which is great. That saves me money. and then they tend to be more healthy. and for me, I think another benefit that. Good. I just can’t forget to mention is just, I particularly feel more creative when I’m working remotely.

I think the ability to go from room to room, maybe step outside or even work outside if I want to, just giving myself that little bit more freedom to decide when and how to tackle things, is a huge benefit.

Michelle Smith: [00:08:01] Yes. It’s almost empowering to have that flexibility.

Jen Knobel: [00:08:05] Absolutely.

Michelle Smith: [00:08:07] So how do you take care of yourself while working remotely?

Jen Knobel: [00:08:13] I think that consistent stop time is really important. That’s a, like a mental health thing. Just leaving your home office or wherever you’re doing, your work is, is vital. I can’t stress that enough. you definitely want to exercise when you can think that’s a really good way to take care of yourself.

and then. Make sure your weekends are free time. As much as you’re able to. Instead of work time, I also typically get dressed. I do, it doesn’t mean that I’m fancy or anything. It just means I’m wearing something different than I slept in, which is, which is nice. I just think that helps you feel kind of more ready for the day.

At least for myself. I also listen to music a lot when I’m working at home. I’ve mentioned that before. I love. Particularly a movie scores, which is random, but what’s nice about that. I love Han Zimmer. Check them out if you never have, but he has some great, USIC that it’s classical. So there’s not lyrics to kind of distract you, but it just ebbs and flows and kind of keeps your day going.

And even sometimes I feel like it takes me to wherever the movie takes place, but he’s made this war for, so it was really just kind of a unique way to have some background noise. And then, another tip for kind of taking care of yourself is more of a professional. stance on that. Definitely. Look ahead.

So make sure you’re not getting stuck in the daily grind and make sure you schedule, I would say like once a week or every other week for just planning time. That just really helps me stay creative, think big picture. And that’s really valuable also to your manager, to your team. Finally, another way to kind of take care of yourself, I would just say is when you hit a roadblock, just stand up.

You know, take a walk for me. I usually go downstairs and make myself a fresh cup of coffee or tea. And that just seems to reenergize my brain and make it easier to go back to that task that was giving me trouble. Absolutely.

Michelle Smith: [00:10:18] So, Jen, how do you see the coronavirus impacting the future of remote work?

Jen Knobel: [00:10:26] I think it’s going to change things drastically. I recently read an article that said something like before the COVID pandemic remote work was considered something only hips or freelancers did, which is funny to me because I definitely don’t consider myself or modern in any way, but just having been working from home in some capacity for 10 plus years.

So I think the good thing is. The pandemic has opened the eyes of a lot of business leaders to thinking about remote work, as productive work. You know, it’s not just an employee, who’s unmanaged, just going rogue. They can really be productive. It’s not for everyone. I want to stress that, you know, some people just need to change their environments.

They want to go in an office and that’s fine too. But for people like me, I feel like my productivity is equal if not, when I work remote. So I think if you’re able to be successful now doing it. Especially for the first time, then you can be even more productive posts, post COVID. So I see companies implementing more work from home policies and maybe hiring positions that are completely remote or partially remote.

And then on the flip side, I see employees asking for it, you know, maybe they’re enjoying that right now and they want that kind of remote work arrangement. So I see those as kind of maybe just shifting the way people think about it.

Michelle Smith: [00:11:56] Absolutely. And now that employees have had a chance to try it out, they’ve had the opportunity to prove their productivity.

And I imagine that really switches the perspective for many business leaders. well, Jen, do you have any final takeaways for viewers?

Jen Knobel: [00:12:14] Yeah. If you are out there and you are thinking you want to incorporate some kind of work remote arrangement into your schedule, but you’re nervous to ask about it. Feel free to reach out to me.

We can chat about different approaches to take. I’ve taken a lot of different approaches throughout the years as I’ve asked for remote work arrangements. So it’s a great negotiation tool. Best to negotiate typically when you’re starting a new job, but you can still do it if you are in a current job, likely during a review cycle or something like that.

And it’s not all or nothing. for me, at one point I worked from home one day a week and that’s what I needed at that time. And it was great. I got a lot done on that one day. and maybe it’s two afternoons or maybe it is fully remote. So just think about what’s best for you when your situation and then ask for it.

Michelle Smith: [00:13:06] Well, Jen, thanks so much for your time and insight today, and we will see everyone next time on cyBARR Chats. Have a good day.