This case study follows a previous article by Polycom discussing how remote working could serve as a solution for workplace gender inequality.
Sharonika Camplin is the director of Regional Campaign Management, Asia Pacific, for Polycom. Camplin joined Polycom in 2007 as senior marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand, based in North Sydney. Four years later, she decided to move from the city to a more rural, rainforest setting and become a full-time remote worker.
Not only did this move bring with it a change of scenery, it also dramatically changed Camplin's career path – where she took on a broader Asia Pacific role and inherited a regional team based in Singapore.
Nine years since joining Polycom and several promotions later, Camplin explains how anywhere working has helped her progress her career while having and raising a young family.
There is a quote that is used often that homeworkers are 40% more productive and I must agree. Since you don’t have the distractions of the office, you are more focused on the projects and work and I found that this surprises people! Often when I tell others I work from home, they ask me how I stay motivated or not end up in front of the TV (or fridge) all day.
But for me and many others in my situation, it’s the exact opposite. Anywhere working means I don’t waste time commuting, whereas in the past this could be up to two hours per day. I also save on costs of transportation, parking and eating out.
I stagger my work hours so I can drop the kids off at daycare by 9am and pick them up at 4pm, get dinner prepared, get through our usual family evening routines, and then get back to work later if required. I can run errands and put a load of washing on during the week, find time to exercise and have weekends and evenings to spend more quality time with my children.
Working from home is not easy and requires discipline – a lot of it. When I first made the ‘tree-change’, I found that I was having trouble sleeping and found my stress levels rising.
There were some days I wouldn’t leave the house and realised that besides my partner, I had not spoken to another person that week except in a work meeting! In addition, there is some guilt associated with being able to work from home and live in an amazing place – and as a result, I worked even harder.
A typical day at the office involves some time catching up on a personal level with colleagues, or stopping by someone’s desk to bounce off ideas and ask questions. At the end of the day, you may not get through all the tasks you set off to do. As a homeworker, you can get through a lot of activity, but then you put pressure on yourself to push even harder.
So, I have learnt a bit more about balance, I don’t mean work/life balance but about blended working. Staggering hours, working out of cafés, taking some time out to go for a walk or get a massage – talk to people, get on video with close colleagues for a chat rather than just a meeting.
If my kids are at home for some reason, I don’t have to take the whole day off, I just work around it. There have been times that my kids have joined team meetings too, they have an extended family of ‘aunts and uncles’ across the world!
Occasionally I travel to a Polycom office and when I do, I love the interaction. I do miss being in that office environment, but for me the benefits of what I have and how I can plan my work around life are more important.
I don’t know how I would function without high quality video collaboration! This technology has helped me establish great relationships with colleagues around the world, many I haven’t met in person, although we meet virtually often. This type of relationship-building would simply not happen if I couldn’t see them face-to-face! My essential tools consist of:
I’ve been lucky that the organisation I work for has a culture of flexible working and activity based working. We have many work from home employees and pretty much all others take advantage of flexible working when required.
So the first consideration would be, what is the culture of the current organisation and how open is your immediate manager to flexible working?
Not every job will be suited to remote working, so it’s important to recognise this too, and if you desire to work remotely then you will need to look at career options that enable you to do so.
Secondly be open as possible with your manager. In my own team, I have some fulltime homeworkers and others that will work part of the time at home. At times, they need to shift how they work due to commitments with family or study or even to extend a holiday and work remotely from there.
They will be open about how they work and I am very accepting of how they choose to work. When I decided to make the move to fulltime homeworker as I was moving location where there was no office, I told my manager 12 months in advance, this gave her the ability to adjust for this.
Thirdly I truly believe if you are a committed, high-performer, the company (if you work for a good one) will support you and you can create a role best suited to remote working full-time or for some of the time.