For nearly two months now it feels like many Oregonians have been in one long crash course on teleworking! We’ve covered the basics, now we’re interested in how teleworking practices have evolved. We spoke to Dr. Mindy Williams, Professor of English at COCC, about her teleworking habits, successes, and struggles:
Commute Options: How does teleworking play a role in your job right now? What experience did you have with it before mid-March?
MW: I’m a college professor and since campus has been closed since mid-March, I’ve been doing my entire job via telecommuting. This includes teaching my classes, holding office hours, conferencing with students, attending committee meetings, and other duties I might normally perform on campus. Even before the campus closure, though, I would work from home at least a few days a week, usually on days when I didn’t have a face-to-face class meeting.
CO: How has your telework routine changed since you began working at home more often?
MW: I’ve always been someone who enjoys working from home and can often be more productive without some of the distractions of campus life, but I’ve come to realize that it’s hard to break up the day when work life and home life are so fully intertwined. It’s not difficult to find yourself always working, even when it might be okay to take a break. Perhaps the biggest change to my routine has been setting an absolute cut off time of 5 p.m.: I will not check my email or do any work past this time. I’m not quite as diligent about setting limits for my morning start time and have been known to reply to emails as early as 5 a.m., but it’s been good for me not to return to work at a certain point in the day. Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from continuing to work on the weekends, but I try to take at least one day “off” a week, aside from a quick check of my email in the morning.
CO: What is your “Number One Telework Tip” to share that’s made your life easier?
MW: I get up and take walks when I need to. My job requires a lot of independent work and so I probably have fewer set times I need to be online than a lot of other folks, but it’s easy for me to get mired in the complexities of my job. Walking or doing another task can help me clear my head and come back to the computer refreshed and ready to get back to it.
CO: If virtual meetings or seminars are part of your work, what’s the silliest moment or wackiest story you have experienced in a meeting or seminar?
MW: Nothing silly or wacky has happened to me directly (thankfully!) but I have had fun drinking from the green Hydroflask cup I won in the April TeleworkPerks Challenge. I’ve been using a green screen when working from home and usually use a library scene as my background in meetings with students and colleagues, and taking a drink from my green cup can result in some funny moments of my face disappearing into the background.
Dr. Williams was one of the winners of our Get There TeleworkPerks Challenge back in April. If you’ve been working from home or walking, rolling, or riding transit to get around, head over to GetThereOregon.org for a chance to be featured as a Super Commuter and win cool prizes like that “disappearing” Hydroflask cup!