Your are the CEO of WFH!

You are the Boss of Your Life! Therefore as the CEO of your mind and body you should choose how to best manage your work/life balance. Oh so you work for a company full time. That’s great even better for you to be able to negotiate your working hours and terms. I did this as a freelancer in a time where clock-in-clock-out mentality was and is often still very rife across all major production media companies.




Below an example of a true life scenario in 2019;


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

Pamella I see you leave the office at 4pm daily?

PAMELLA:

Yes


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

This isn’t acceptable!


PAMELLA:

Oh is this having an affect on business?


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

No


PAMELLA:

So I’m not sure what the issue is?


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

Well to be frank if you are not seen at your desk then this could be seen as you are not working!

PAMELLA:

How do you know if I am working when I am at my desk?


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

We don’t but that's not the point the perception is the issue!


PAMELLA:

I see do you think that's a healthy way of working?


HUGE MEDIA COMPANY EXECUTIVE:

It doesn’t matter what I think and it’s not the point just be at your desk up until 5pm


PAMELLA:

I suggest we have a look through my freelance contract and inspect the terms on this point.


After 3 weeks of pointless meetings and ego fuelled coups, I not only left at 4pm daily I also worked from home 2 weeks of the month. Wait I worked from Portugal, Cuba, New York and Kent for those 2 weeks of the month!


I’ve been working remotely for the past 5 years of my media career.

I chose to negotiate each contract to ensure I include this option namely because I enjoy the freedom of setting my own hours, having a work life balance that meant a Tuesday could be my weekend and most importantly I could FaceTime my retired parents whenever I wanted.


At the beginning of my remote working days I stayed at home. I did the WFH as if I was under surveillance. I got up and after my mental and personal hygiene routine I was ready at my desk for 0930am start and finished often at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm.... wait I don’t think I clocked off!


Then I realised that remote working didn’t mean you had to be glued to a desk or laptop on your kitchen table, you didn’t even need to be at a local refined coffee shop or at your parents house in Kent. Remote working meant I could be on a different time zone and when I worked this out I’ve used a plane for pretty much all my major remote working times!


I understand now we are all very limited to where we work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


So I will share my top 4 remote working principles during my time at BBC Africa, Redbull Media Austria and Fremantle UK.


My roles were Commercial Producer and Production Manager often managing teams and large groups of stakeholders across different time zones:


Choose a Dedicated Work Space and Establish Boundaries

I had a great chat with an Apple developer about how he manages his workflow, Proactive in the AM and Reactive in the PM. I gave it a go and it worked for me. In the AM I will prep my schedules, budget, tasks for my teams and weekly goals for the production. In the PM I responded to emails, set up zoom chats and worked on challenging requests. This meant in the AM I chose a spot that allowed my mind to be proactive, fresh air, good light and lots of creative colour. In the PM I set up in a more formal setting of my home/remote area so I could make calls, focus on reacting to requests using a different side of my brain.

Of course life will throw up many challenges and I adapt accordingly, if a task is important and urgent then I will make this a priority. If I am across different time zones I also ensure this works best for my health and sleep quality. This is where establishing boundaries is very important. Setting out key tasks that need to be accomplished. I would send pre-record videos to 3am timezones on the top tasks and request pre-recorded videos back. Anything urgent we called on the main emergency bat phone! If you’re working hours are 9am-3pm explain during these hours you are available for contact then you are away until 5pm onwards. Whatever works for you and your production.


Establish a Routine

Mental hygiene before personal hygiene is super important to each of my day.

I wake up, stretch, affirm my day then meditate. Then I shower and commence with my personal routine. I eat and don’t look at any device until my last sip of grapefruit juice.

My routines will be set based on business requirements and delivery of the end production. If I have empowered and supported my team to understand their roles and to think for themselves I am free and available to have a full overview of daily tasks and overall timelines.

I set food and air break alarms to ensure I fuelled throughout the day and stepped away from my screen or sitting position.

I also had an end of day alarm and would only respond to emergencies after hours. Routine offers you a healthy mindset and attitude towards your work and ensures you manage expectations of your teams.


What Remote Working Tools Do I Need?

Many media companies weren’t set up for remote working so I was able to utilise the many popular tools available

Google spreadsheet - so I can share schedules and cost tracking in real times across all timezones with my teams

Google docs- for reviewing call sheets and risk assessments in real time

Slack - when working with various stakeholders set up different projects to discuss variables in the production team, creative team, admin team, technical crew etc

Whatsapp - for team information and real time sharing during filming. Access to call sheets and risk assessment.

Above a few of my top 3, I am always open to new apps and often adapt based to media owned applications such as The BBC and RedBull which offer similar communicating tools


Always Turn Your Video On

We are in the media after all!

So we don’t see each other daily and a lot of our communication is non verbal so having your lovely face in front of your webcam will speak volumes.

When managing a team it’s important you request this so you can see what’s happening with your teams and what aspect of the meetings they may be finding difficult. Understanding tonality and pitch is an art form so why not utilise an option that speeds this up! It reconnects you with your team and creates a sense of teamwork that although we may be on our own for most of the day there are actual physical people across our productions . Offer that human touch to your teams and always check what's in your background. I recall a PA having a few toilet rolls stacked in the background of our video call and the client we were working with told me offline that this made her teams feel uncomfortable, gulp!


I encourage all my teams on my productions to have good remote working patterns whether they are based in the office location or from home.


What is your top remote working tip? Please share. I'd like to expand this list and share with many who may never have had the pleasure of remote working and after this lockdown may never go back!