Our Work From Anywhere series explores how people of all ages and positions spend their work week - whether they’re in the office, working from home, on the road - or all of the above.
Highlighting different trends in work environments during the global pandemic, we’ll take a deep dive into office schedules, WFA challenges and how individuals navigate connecting with their internal teams and external partners - no matter where they are.
Position: Senior Manager at a Big 4 Consulting Firm
What does your department team look like? (How many people, age range, are they working from home? From the office?)
Our department gender make up is approximately 70% male to 30% female. The age range is all the way from post undergrad (22 years old) to employees in their early to mid 50s.
Pre-COVID-19, most of our department traveled Monday through Thursday to client office sites. Fridays were often reserved as WFH days - or we would go into the office to meet with other colleagues. Now, during the pandemic, everyone on the team WFH / works from anywhere.
What are some of your everyday work tasks?
My everyday work tasks include driving client management and team direction. I manage teams to build out end-to-end customer experiences, like future state scenario planning, go-to-market strategy, qualitative research, user flows, wireframes and more...
When will your office reopen?
Our office reopen date is TBD. When our office opens will be data driven - based on one month of consistent lowering of COVID-19 positive case numbers with geography taken into consideration.
When our travel to client sites will resume is also TBD. It will be determined by the client and most likely vary greatly depending on the size and location of the organization.
Did you ever work from home prior to the pandemic?
Yes - prior to the pandemic, I worked from home on Fridays.
What is your work from home hardware / software setup like?
Killer - my WFH setup is straight out of an Apple commercial! I use dual monitors, a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and an iPad for communication with clients via their virtual desktop experience.
I’ve got a bluetooth speaker and three different types of headphones that I rotate depending on meeting needs and ear comfort.
What is your work from home environment like? (Makeshift space, dedicated home office)
I use the dedicated home office that once was my husband’s. He has always worked from home, even prior to the pandemic - but I have now taken over the dedicated home office, simply due to the large amount of time I am on the phone in meetings.
Do you share your work from home environment with others?
Yes, I share my WFH environment with my husband and two dogs.
How many hours a day are you in meetings?
10-12 hours (average)
What percentage of your meetings include video conferencing? Which video conferencing platforms do you use?
At the beginning of COVID-19, about 90% of my meetings included video conferencing. Now that we're settled in to this new era of work, I would say the percentage of meetings that have video conferencing is about 50-60%.
Do you use a visual collaboration tool (in addition to video conferencing) throughout your work day? If so, which software tools do you use, and how?
Yes. I’m a big proponent of using visual collaboration tools in addition to video conferencing, because there are so many more features you can use to communicate with visual collaboration that you can’t do with just video conferencing.
Different capabilities within visual collaboration tools are really useful for different project purposes. It is helpful to visualize and annotate on shared content for brainstorming sessions or to enhance workflows through multiple lines of communication by leaving comments and action-items within an interactive session.
Chat apps like Slack and MS Teams have also been key in maintaining a streamlined workflow with my team.
How many days a week do you plan to work from home once your office reopens?
Once my office reopens, I plan to work from home one to two days per week.
Three WFA challenges:
- Noise distractions! My dogs always bark during conference calls...
- When working from home every day, the number of hours in my work day has greatly increased. I used to work about 50 hours per week, but now I probably work closer to 60-65 hours per week.
- While I’m working out of the house and lawn care and cleaners are around, it adds a layer of complexity - for example, trying to stay socially distant from them while managing client and team meetings.
How I spent my week
WFH - this is a typical day in my work life!
7am - 9am: Individual Focus time (no meetings)
9am: Networking Call
9:30am: Product Team #1 Standup
10am: Company internal call for upcoming submission
10:30am: Client Touchbase
11am: Product Team #2 Standup
12pm: Scheduled lunchtime
12:30pm Team Member Standup
1pm: Team #3 Weekly Touch base
1:30pm: Product Team #4 Knowledge Transfer & Brainstorm
2pm: Product Roadmap
3pm: Meeting Prep Session
4pm: Release Train Sync
5pm: Team Org Discussion
5:30p: Client Call
WFH - the structure of my days is pretty similar throughout the week. Starting with ‘Focus Time’ every day allows me to prep for meetings and make a plan for the day so I feel organized and am ready to be agile from meeting to meeting. On Tuesday, my team launched a visual collaboration call in the morning for a half hour, and then again later in the afternoon for two hours, where we reviewed notes and project charts for a client review meeting later in the day.
WFH - With internal team stand ups and additional working sessions, today we used visual collaboration tools for about four hours. The sessions were used for ‘Product Team #4 Knowledge Transfer & Prep for Concept’ as well as a future scenario planning meeting.
WFH - this day bounced between the usual client meetings and internal team sessions, along with a networking call!
WFH - here’s what my usual ‘No Client Meeting Fridays’ look like. It’s a great way to cap off a busy week, complete follow-up items, and ask any questions to team members so that we can get a head start into the following week’s workflow.
9am: Leadership Meeting
11am: Monthly Account Health Meeting
12pm: Internal Capability Bi-Monthly Meeting
1230pm: Team Member Standup
130pm: Knowledge Transfer & Post-Session Debrief and Next Steps
2:30pm: Networking Call
4pm: Team Member Bi-Weekly Catch Up
4:30pm: Team Member Weekly Catch Up
Working from home can blur the lines between work and home life, with additional meetings popping up and longer work hours. I have lunch scheduled on my calendar every day - but I’m lucky if I make that once a week!
I now have a little more flexibility with managing my schedule - so I am able to sprinkle in networking calls throughout my week and be more connected to my industry and learn about others’ work from anywhere trends, which I really like.
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