February 07, 2019 under
REMOTE WORK SEEM UNWORKABLE? I THOUGHT SO, TOO - THEN DISCOVERED THE TRUTH
By: Shravya Kaparthi, Director, Analytics and Decision Sciences, RAPP Dallas
One vacation can absolutely change your life.
In 2017, my husband and I road-tripped from Texas to Washington for two weeks. Six national parks and tons of outdoorsy activities later, we were sold: The Pacific Northwest was a winner.
Later that year, my husband was offered a job in Seattle. We both knew relocating would lead to an ideal cultural and social fit, but could it work with my company’s needs or would I have to find a new employer? Although RAPP fosters work-life balance and flexibility — unique within the advertising industry — my position is client-facing and collaborative across verticals.
I had my doubts but was buoyed by the idea that perhaps I could transfer from RAPP to another part of the Omnicom group covering Washington state and neighboring territories. Surprisingly, though, my boss and senior mentors suggested remote work as an option if I could travel to Texas for meetings regularly.
Despite their willingness to make it work, I wasn’t convinced I was cut out for it. I’m highly social and derive a lot of energy from being with others. Technology would allow me to address time zone issues with ease, but could I find success not physically being in the office? I was game to try.
Testing the remote working waters
I thought my first hurdle would be isolation. Not in Seattle. The community workspace culture built around the freelance gig economy means bustling coffee shops, parks, meet-up groups and other locales filled with remote workers. Coupled with work travel every three weeks, I never feel alone.
Next, I figured scheduling might be a concern. It wasn’t. I worked Texas hours, which means early mornings for sure, but this allowed me to become a regular at the gym, take up yoga classes, head out on long runs, and make new friends. No problem there.
However, one snag I didn’t anticipate was delineating between work and home. I started tailoring my whole day around work, unable to figure out when I should be awake or asleep — plus a lunch hour is almost nonexistent! Setting boundaries became a tricky knot that I’m still untangling.
Despite the inherent challenges of being a remote worker, the experience has allowed me to hone several key career skills that make me a stronger employee:
Remote work is still a bit of an experiment for me. However, I feel less daunted than when I started, especially because I am respected by RAPP and trusted by my clients. Long distance means little if you really want something to work. And what triumphs is good work. Always. The advertising industry has the luxury of innovating and crafting creative solutions from anywhere. If we don't explore that option now, in this day and age of smartphones and on-the-go-meetings, when else will we?