Tips for working remotely from the Alumni Association Board

Navigating our new world online learning and working

home office

During these unprecedented times, the Alumni Association Board wants our 50,000+ alumni across the globe and future alums to know that we are all thinking of you. We hope you, your families, and friends are safe and healthy.

Our lives have shifted to the digital world now more than ever. We’re learning, working, and even socializing virtually. As we all adapt to the online life that social distancing has brought, members of the Alumni Association Board—many of whom work remotely on a regular basis—offer insights on living and working in virtual setting. Whether you are working from home, participating in online courses, or searching for new ways to keep yourself entertained, their tips can help you make the most of these unique times.

Walks, talks, lists, and Harry Potter

“Daily walks are key to breaking up the day for me. I’ve been using what was my commute time to get out of the house to call one of my teammates or a friend to catch up. During work hours, I manage my time by documenting my progress in a list. At the end of the day or week, I can look back at all I accomplished. I always recommend Evernote or OneNote. And finally, I started re-reading Harry Potter and it’s been amazing. A trip back to Hogwarts can really clear your mind.”

Greg McCarthy ’13 is the president of the Alumni Association. He leads PR and social media at the cybersecurity company CyberArk.

Keep a daily regimen

“When working from home, it’s important to budget time slots for all of your vital tasks. Try to keep a set schedule for going online for work. Carve out dedicated times for things like exercise, keeping in touch virtually with family and friends, cleaning the house, and having independent time to do whatever you like. Consider setting a menu of different meals throughout the week to break up the episodic feel of the week. Go outside for walks and fresh air. Most importantly, keep busy and stay positive!”

Brian F. Higgins ’11 is the treasurer of the Alumni Association. He is the assistant director of human resources for Needham Public Schools.

Stay connected

“During a period of more extreme isolation, many of us may be struggling to cope with this change and new way of working. We may not even know how long we're going to be utilizing our MacGyver-ed coffee table workspace or sharing the lone office desk with your significant other. It's times of challenge and uncertainty that we need our community most. Reach out and stay connected—and don't be afraid to get creative! Schedule FaceTime calls with your family and friends. Get your team involved in a virtual scavenger hunt or happy hour. Use this time to reach out and network on LinkedIn. Don't let social distancing keep you from being social!”

Alycia Busby ’12 is chair of the events committee. She is a lead finance analyst at The Boston Consulting Group.

Don’t stay in your pjs

“Get up and get dressed each day to help you feel normal. It’s very easy to get into the habit of staying in your pajamas every day, but you will feel more productive and ready to start each day if you wake up and get right into your routine.”

Renée LeBlanc ’05 is chair of the scholarship committee. She is currently the senior financial officer for the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT.

Set daily goals

“Working from home can be a big change for many employees, especially those who are used to interacting daily with a supervisor. Without the daily reminder to perform from management, it can be easy to fall behind on work initiatives and lose motivation on projects. An easy way to combat this is to set daily goals for yourself. Treat these different from traditional checklists, and make these goals something that takes that little bit of extra effort to accomplish. When the task is complete, you can relish in the glory of success and demonstrate to your company leadership your ability to work autonomously.”

Matthew C. Witzgall ’15 is vice president of the Alumni Association. He is vice president of North American operations for EMM Specialties, an automotive refinishing company based out of The Netherlands.

Find what works for you

“I have worked remote since 1999. You have to find what works for you. Start with developing a process and routine. Mine has been the same for 20 years: Get up, take a shower, get a cup of coffee, and always make sure to eat lunch. If you go to the gym at lunch while you are in the office, then take a walk when you are at home. With a routine and scheduled breaks, you will find that you will accomplish more and be more focused. But be careful to not get distracted by home projects—save those for the weekends. We are still paid to work and produce as we would if we were sitting in an office.”

Ucal T. Palmer, Jr. ’94 is a relationship manager at Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance

Use virtual backgrounds to enhance communication

“Collaborating in my business is a vital function for effective time management and problem solving. During this unique time, traditional methods of communication have been somewhat challenging. Over the past few weeks I've become far more proficient with video conferencing on Zoom. It is exciting to learn the scope and efficiency of this technology and I've recently purchased a 10' x 10' Chromakey green screen to create virtual backgrounds. In addition, I've developed an intimate relationship with my Instant Pot.”

Jack Medeiros ’91 is a senior account executive with DS Graphics/Universal Wilde in Westwood, MA

Socialize!

“When working remotely, you will need to go out of your way to reach out to your colleagues in ways you wouldn’t have to in a typical office setting. During a time where we can’t walk up to our colleagues’ offices and say hi, try to take the time to message them and check in. Building bonds with colleagues increases workplace happiness and productivity. Even if your outreach is something simple like saying good morning or sharing an article that you found interesting, that touch goes a long way in working to establish trust and strong working relationships with colleagues. I love apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Having a quick, fun way to touch base with colleagues while remote (and spare their inbox a couple extra emails) is an uplifting way to remain feeling connected in what is otherwise an isolating experience.”

Justine Cameron ’14, ’19 is a higher education professional, recently selected as one of twenty fellows for the American Society for Public Administration.

Prioritize self-care

“A good part of managing your time is building in time to take care of yourself.  In our human nature we tend to take care of others before ourselves. However, a good manager recognizes that an addition to being productive they should also take time to care for themselves. Read a book, listen to music, take a nap, and recharge.”

Jennifer Sanchez Olsen ’96 is chair of the Alumni Awards committee. She is a career advisor for the Community College of Rhode Island.

Stay positive and get some fresh air

“With two boys ages six and three, working from home is no easy ride for my wife and I. Between entertaining the kiddos to keeping up with their school work and playing referee at some physical baseball games in the living room, teamwork is essential. We alternate 30-minute timeslots where one of us works and the other watches the boys. It’s not perfect and there are times when Paw Patrol and Sesame Street are our only saviors! What is most important is that we keep things positive and fresh and try to get outside for breaks as much as we can.”

Sean Carpenter ’98 is a senior development manager with Affordable Housing & Services Collaborative.

Know when to disconnect

“When you ‘WFH’ you are plugged into email constantly, even during virtual meetings and when you are attempting to get work completed. It is difficult to ignore emails, but that is what you often do when working on site and attending meetings or having 1-to-1 discussions with colleagues or customers. It’s important to divide your day so that you can respond to email, but also focus on accomplishing work tasks and being an active listener in meetings and calls.”

Wayne J. Camara ’78 is the clerk of the Alumni Association and is vice president of research and Horace Mann Chair for ACT college admission testing program. He has worked remotely for seven years from his Marion, MA, home.



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