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Utah Business

Elisa Garn discusses the value of working from home

Working from my home isn’t new for me, I’ve had this flexibility for the last several years of my career. However, the exclusivity of quarantine-based work from home has been a new frontier and definitely a challenging one.

I just started a new position in February, so finding ways to not only acclimate to my new company but also build relationships with my new colleagues has been a top priority. I’ve found it beneficial to balance my virtual meetings with a blend of well-established relationships as I get to know new people so I am not feeling like I’m “on” all day, which can be exhausting. 

My daily routines are predictable but not monotonous. I value variety, freedom, and flexibility so finding ways to stay engaged and motivated in creative ways has been kind of fun.I build my schedule to start my first virtual meeting at 8:30 which ensures I have an accountability partner. This way, I don’t oversleep and have motivation to be presentable for my first – and remaining – meetings.

I use a calendar booking tool called Calendly to automate many of my meetings which adds value in a couple ways. First, I have spent the time to build my settings for my personal effectiveness (i.e. I only accept 2 individual meetings per day and I require a 15 minute buffer between appointments) and since it syncs with both my personal and work calendars, it saves the hassle of having to go back and forth with availability via email to coordinate time.

When I’m on a phone or video call, I mute notifications and silence my phone. This is important to me as it’s a sign of respect for the other person/people in the meeting. I would never check my phone during an in person meeting, so I work to mirror that behavior in my remote environment as a way to stay engaged and practice active listening.

As a “nana” to four puppies born mid-March, the ability to blend the responsibilities of taking care of them (and taking therapeutic puppy time breaks!) and managing my work has been a silver lining to the feelings of isolation. I can easily finish a meeting, fill my water cup, clean up a mess, answer a couple questions from my 8 year old, share some water cooler chat with my husband, and then get back to my laptop and pickup my next project without skipping a beat. 

Since I was able to eliminate my commute, I decided to invest the time growing my network, inviting my LinkedIn connections to chat via video call to talk about whatever they wanted to discuss. I’ve “met” more than 60 people which, for an extroverted networker like me, has been a saving grace amidst feelings of loneliness and depression.

Finally, I stick to my afternoon wrap up. I physically leave my workspace at 5:30, close my laptop and end work for the day.  Any tasks that weren’t completed immediately go to the top of the list for the next morning. 

I’ve felt fortunate to have such a positive transition the last few months. I am optimistic more companies now see the value and possibilities of offering more flexible working options for their employees. It is a huge business advantage to offer diverse options to accommodate the needs and preferences of how people work, but I also hope to see mental health and adaptive training prioritized for those who intend to maintain remote work as part of their employee experience. 

This article is part of a month-long work from home series where executives and entrepreneurs discuss how they’ve adjusted to remote work. Read more here.

Elisa Garn is currently the VP of Thought Leadership & Brand Marketing for GBS Benefits, a full service broker based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elisa's experience includes more than 15 years in HR, recruiting and employer brand strategy primarily with small to mid-sized businesses. A true Xennial (the micro generation between Gen X and Millennials), she is often an early adopter with a natural curiosity for all things – Especially people! Her passion for the HR profession is obvious: She is a member of the Forbes Human Resource Council, has served as the President for Salt Lake SHRM, co-founded DisruptHR SLC, currently serves as the Executive Director for Utah SHRM and acts as an advisor and member of several business-focused groups. Elisa holds the SHRM-SCP, SPHR, PRC and SHRM Talent Management Specialty Credential certifications. A true believer of the global impact HR can have on creating a better human experience, her career path now focuses on the advocacy and influence for the progression of the HR function within the business environment. When she's not exploring one of Utah's beautiful trails or organizing an impromptu flash mob, she's busy sewing 80's throwback costumes for her 8 year old son and pursuing her journey to find the world's best cinnamon roll.