Many people around the world are self-quarantined in their homes, which means jobs are being compelled to move from the office to off-site. While this is a new experience for many professionals (and students!), it isn’t entirely new to the world of work overall. The option to work remotely has become one of the more popular benefits requested by employees. According to a report by Owl Labs, many would even take a pay cut as high as 10% to have the option to work from home1. In addition to the desire to have this benefit, increasing numbers of the workforce are already enjoying a flexible location. Employees who worked remotely (at least part of the time) grew from 36% to 43% between 2012 and 2016, with most sources agreeing that number is likely to climb.
To better understand what this looks like for Zags, we reached out to Gonzaga alumni who have been operating off-site from several months to several years to tell us about their experience. We’ll be featuring one of these interviews every week through April.
First, we spoke with Christine (Kelly) Machado. Christine is a Senior Finance Business Partner at GitLab, Inc, where she serves as the financial representative for the G&A division. GitLab is the world’s largest all remote company, with over 1,200 team members located in more than 65 countries. GitLab, Inc provides a complete open-source DevOps platform, delivered as a single application. Christine graduated from Gonzaga in 2010 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Business Administration (Economics). She also is a Certified Public Accountant and earned a Master of Business Administration from Washington State University. (Some answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
How long have you been working from home?
Christine: I have been working from home for 11 months.
What are the biggest benefits to working from home?
Christine: The biggest benefit has been the ability to live anywhere while working for a fast-growing tech start-up. Without remote work I would need to move to the Bay Area to work for a company similar to GitLab. Instead, I can live anywhere in the world.
Similarly, I have colleagues located all over the world. I work closely with colleagues in Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Russia, just to name a few. Being surrounded by a diverse group has helped broaden my perspective.
Also, you can’t beat no commute on a Monday morning.
What are the most challenging aspects of working from home?
Christine: Disconnecting and stopping work for the day. Since my company is all over the world, there are team members online at any given point. My company encourages us to disconnect, but I’ve still had to make a conscious effort. It’s easy to lose track of time in the evening so I’ve had to set boundaries for myself to log off even if I haven’t finished everything.
What three tips do you have for individuals who are new to working from home?
Christine: First, have a separate workspace. Part of the way I am able to disconnect from work at the end of the day is that I leave my workspace. Having a separate workspace also makes it so I fully focus on work during the day.
Second, be aware of your personality so you know what you need to thrive. Based on my personality, I know I don’t stay cooped up well and I need in-person interactions. Before COVID-19, I went to a co-working space twice a week and on the other days I made sure to leave the house in the evening. Now with what is currently going on I go on a walk every day. Sometimes I do it in the middle of my workday if I can tell I need to get out of the house.
Third, socialize with your colleagues even if you are all remote. I would have laughed at this being a possibility before I started this job, but I am closer to my colleagues at my current job than I have been at any other company. We socialize on Zoom and through Slack.
What technology platform(s) do you find especially helpful to you as you work from home?
Christine: Zoom, Slack
How do you create community with your work colleagues without being in the same location?
Christine: We get together once a year for a week (though unfortunately we were supposed to be doing that this week and it was canceled due to COVID-19), which sets the foundation of our community. When I have Zoom meetings with one other person, I tend to dedicate the first few minutes to catching up with that person. I also Slack message colleagues casual/personal conversations that in a traditional office you would have.
Do you usually dress for work or comfort?
Christine: I dress for work. I am typically in Zoom Meetings for at least half the day and often with E-Level team members, so I need to dress professionally even at home. I also find it helps me switch into work mode when I go through the process of getting ready in the morning as if I’m going into an office.
Want to hear more? Stay tuned next week, when we continue this series with an interview from Paris-based alumna, Antonella Mediati.
1Owl Labs. (2019). State of Remote Work 2019. Retrieved from https://www.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work/2019?hs_preview=jWDXIXgj-13385250578
2Gallup, Inc. (2017). State of the American Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx