Written by Melissa Ehret, Design Manager
Spoiler alert: I thrive as a remote worker. I’m more productive, more content in my role, and have integrated my personal and professional life in ways that feel fulfilling and balanced most of the time.
My role, preferred work style, history with the company, tools and technology, and the chemistry of my team all contribute to a successful remote work story.
As Design Manager, I touch every visual element of our brand. In order to balance my day-to-day responsibilities, tackle spur-of-the-moment requests, and breathe creative life into larger projects that move the brand forward, I need a few key things: deep work time, flexible hours that correspond with my highest creativity and productivity peaks, scheduled collaboration with my team, and a manager who trusts my vision and encourages me to stretch.
This kind of work scenario doesn’t manifest overnight!
Building a foundation
Before I worked remotely, I was in the office 5 days a week. I had a chance to learn about the business in-person, see how decisions were made and by whom, and contribute to office culture evolutions. Most importantly, I got to know everyone. I built relationships, established trust, and found the best ways to communicate and problem-solve with different people and teams.
When I moved 80 miles away during the pandemic (yes, to the Oregon coast!), I could rely on the foundation I had built.
At the time, everyone was working remotely. But in April of 2022, our office shifted to a hybrid schedule with three days in-office and two days WFH. A small handful of folks at Boly:Welch continued to work fully remote — including me.
Tools and technology
Technology plays a huge role in the success of any remote work situation. But technology is only as good as its users.
Our team has developed an organized system of communication based on our core marketing topics (“social content,” “workshops,” “ads,” etc.), which we message each other about on Microsoft Teams. While it’s nice to be able to ask and answer questions freely with your cubicle buddy, it’s also helpful to finish that important email response or copyedit without being interrupted.
The Owl video conferencing camera has become a regular member of all our team meetings! The Owl is a stand-alone camera and speaker with 360 degree vision. We place it in the middle of our meeting table at the office and it live-streams the entire room — in one panoramic view, while simultaneously spotlighting each person as they speak — for folks joining the meeting remotely. I can see and hear everyone clearly on my computer, and feel like I’m in the room with the team. I may not love having my face project four feet tall on the conference room screen, but it’s a small price to pay.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Of all the things that contribute to my success as a remote employee, our team dynamics are most important. We’ve cultivated a culture of high trust where each person has clear responsibilities and is encouraged to lean into their strengths. And we’re constantly in touch. Each week, we have informal one-on-one meetings with our manager, along with a bi-weekly core team meeting and a bi-weekly expanded team meeting where lots of good brainstorming happens.
We also have implemented a schedule for deep work: dedicated time and space to focus without interruption. Each person on the team has one day a week dedicated to deep work, and we stagger our days to provide coverage for each other.
Our manager holds the big-picture vision and makes strategic decisions for our team, but she’s also doing daily work alongside us. We have mutual respect for one another. She’s given me the freedom to do what I do best, and pushes me to dig deeper. Under these conditions, I’ve created some of my best work and have gotten the most positive feedback from my colleagues. The amount of work I’ve been able to take on is also huge — for me and for my team.
After a full year of working remotely, my work relationships are strong. When I come into the office — which is typically 1-3 times per month — people are excited to see me and I’m excited to see them. I prioritize connecting, and not just about work projects. The days are full, and as a social introvert, in-office days fill me up.
I’m always smiling when I leave the city and head back to the coast.