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Adjusting to Remote Work: A College Graduate’s Perspective

News & Blog

Adjusting to Remote Work

In just a few shorts months, working remote has gone from a company perk to a seemingly new standard of operation. The traditional office environment and experience has been severely altered, and maybe even forever. We’re already seeing companies like Twitter offer their employees the option to continue to work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

What’s been especially interesting is the response from individuals across the country when it comes to adjusting to these changes. There appears to be a divide between those who wish to continue to log in from home, and those who long for the days of going to an office where they could experience the separation of work and home.

As someone who has worked their short two-year career for a company consisting of a geo-diverse workforce, I relate to both sides of this spectrum. I have experienced the perks of working from a home office, while also traveling to my company’s office a couple of times each week. For me, I appreciate the balance and think that companies might want to offer their employees the same as we move forward from and out of this unique time.

Even for people like me who are accustomed to working from home a few days a week, adjusting to remote work is not an easy task. As a recent college grad, working from a home office day in and day out has brought with it some special challenges. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this and that, regardless of who you are, full-time remote work is challenging for you.  In this blog, I want to share with you my experience adjusting to remote work as a young college graduate.  I hope that my story might encourage you if you, like me, are struggling with a sense of disconnectedness in this new world of remote work.

Expectations Coming Out of School

Two years ago, when I entered the workforce, I was eager to launch my career. During my academic career at Virginia Tech, I was accustomed to collaborating on group projects, leading presentations, and participating in all kinds of events.  As an extrovert, I thrived in these situations.

My expectations coming out of school was that my work life would be somewhat of a natural extension of my school life. I imagined scenes like you might see in TV shows like Mad Men. You know – phones ringing, people typing away in shared work spaces, employees blowing past each other on their ways to meetings, knocking on colleagues’ doors to pitch a new idea, all the way to the portable “lunch truck” that showed up every day in the middle of the office.

A couple months prior to graduation, I stumbled upon an open Marketing position with an IT Firm headquartered in Blacksburg – Advanced Logic Industries (ALI). A job located right here where I wanted to launch my career and with an extremely innovative company? I wasted no time applying, interviewed, and was offered the position. My decision to accept was an easy one – ALI checked all my boxes.

While I understood that there would only be a handful of employees physically located in Blacksburg, the idea of working with employees located across the country was exciting. What I couldn’t have known in those early days is the different challenges I would face adjusting to working remote and with a geo-diverse workforce.

Adjusting to Working with a Geo-Diverse Workforce

Everything I new prior to ALI was in-person collaboration. From part-time jobs to internships and class projects, I was accustomed to working with a team of physically present participants. Now I was collaborating with colleagues over video conferencing tools and virtual team spaces.

More difficult than the physical absence of people in virtual meetings was the adjustment to the appropriate use of collaboration tools. If I needed to communicate an idea to someone, I didn’t have the luxury of face-to-face conversations that happen when people work in the same office space.  Having to figure out how to best communicate in this new world was a challenge I had not anticipated when started my job at ALI. Do I shoot my idea over to them through a direct message? Do I send an email? Maybe I’m supposed to schedule a meeting over video? Can I just call them? It didn’t take me long to realize that navigating a remote workforce comes with a whole new set of challenges.

Still, as I began to master work from home and collaborating with my dispersed colleagues, the perks of remote work began to emerge. One of the most obvious would be eliminating a commute! The time saved in not having to drive to work and home quickly began to add value to my days and it didn’t take long until a button down with a pair of sweatpants became my preferred style of dress. Lastly, I was quickly becoming adept at the collaboration tools we were using, which was Cisco Webex for videoconferencing, Cisco Jabber for instant messaging, Webex Teams for team collaboration and discussion, and Outlook for email.

My Overall Experience

What I found through my experience these last two years, adjusting to remote work, is that you need to be light on your feet, patient with yourself and roll with the punches. While I thought I wanted, and even needed, an office buzzing with people and excitement, I have come to appreciate the world of virtual meetings and video conferencing. 

For me, I think the ideal week is 1-2 days of work from home with the other days in the office. Before this pandemic, I did go into the office 2-3 days each and week and found that to be a good balance. These last couple of months of working completely from home, though, have taught me so much. I am so thankful to be working for ALI at this unique time for they are a company that has skillfully mastered the work-from-home model/world.

If you have any questions about adjusting to remote work, please post in the comment section below and any ALI team member or I would love to be of assistance.

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