How working from home saved my career
On the 23rd of July 2018, my whole family took a serious hit as we were victims of the lethal fire that killed 102 people in Mati Athens. As a result, both of my parents were hospitalized with 2nd and 3rd-degree burns for numerous months and so were both of my children for numerous days.
Coping, surviving and even thriving throughout a challenge like this involved a change in my work considerations in a way that they can be better harmonized with the personal aspect of my life. Two basic factors were necessary for this. The adequate technological infrastructure to support remote working and the company’s evolved perception of the digital workplace. Here’s how:
To start with I had huge support from my company’s management by offering me all the time necessary to attend to my family's needs. However, dealing with extended skin burns is a tedious process that lasts way a lot longer than any typical wound. Consequently, this was going to be a long-running duty. I had to come with a way to include the consequences of such a tragedy in my everyday life.
Throughout the day I wanted to visit my parents at the intensive care unit, attend the therapy sessions with my family’s and my children’s psychologists, help my wife with her serious nervous breakdown/ depression, stay fit and healthy both in body and mind so I can cope with all these. Among all these, I obviously had to support my professional career as it was my main source of income.
Initially, time and location management appeared to be the key to handle all these responsibilities. Commuting to the office premises and staying there for 8 hours continuously, it was more of a hurdle than a useful tool for this. Having a constructive conversation with my manager, she showed me trust to work from home as much as I needed in order to create a flexible daily schedule to accommodate all my tasks. And so, I did.
By planning my daily work tasks at various times during the day or evening, I was then able to concentrate more to the task at hand each time and to focus better on my professional activities. I also became more productive, as I could match the different time zones with other departments located internationally. It even worked as therapy. While focusing at work tasks I could shortly forget the hard stuff happening concurrently. For example, while waiting outside of the surgery room for 6-7 hours. The best surprise was when I have presented my performance evaluation metrics for that time frame. Two major metrics, for a support engineer, are the clearing of customer tickets without development involvement and the quality of the tickets that reach development. For H2 2018 both my clearing and my quality performance records did not drop (they marginally increased by 1%) and H1 2019 they were substantially increased by 11% and 15% respectively!!!
Reflecting on my whole experience, I soon came to realize that time management was just the surface. The true key to my success story lies at the heart of “Digital transformation”. What I really understood, and I appreciated the most, is that Digital Transformation is not only about the adoption of digital technologies which in my case provided the infrastructure to work from my home office. It is also about changing the general mindset and the mentality of the company’s members as well as the organizational culture. I did not just execute my work tasks remotely. Instead, I was empowered to experience, shape and evolve the digital infrastructure along with the communications related to my team’s daily processes. And I managed this through times of personal crisis. I can surely imagine how home office can positively contribute to a highly engaged workforce and increase productivity even more at regular times.