It’s possible for digital asset managers to work from home but it requires a plan that they can stick to.
For over two years I have successfully worked from home. During that time I created and deployed: an enterprise taxonomy, a digital content metadata model, and a method to auto-classify digital assets. I maintain our DAM ecosystem, address DAM related questions and issues, conduct virtual meetings, train endusers, and supervise an employee all while telecommuting. I believe that working from home has made it much easier for me to accomplish my goals. This success was made possible by having a plan at the outset.
DAM workplace evolution
In the U.S., professionals are working from home more often than ever before. According to one Gallup poll (2015), 37% of the U.S. workforce said they telecommuted at least twice a week during 2015. That’s four times more than was reported a decade ago. Some of you may think that the statistic includes weekend work, but it is mostly comprised of workers telecommuting during normal workdays (Gallup, 2015).
What is it?
When I talk about “working from home” I am really referring to telecommuting, telework, or virtual work. According to the U.S. Office Of Personnel Management (n.d.), telework is where an employee performs their “duties and responsibilities, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work”. It is not to be confused with flex time – where start/finish hours are chosen by a worker – or working as part of a virtual team, though these may be part of your work-from-home plan (more on that later).
Why it should matter to your company
There are several benefits to working from home. They include increased productivity: one report put the increase at 27% (Lister, 2010). For example, I spend less time scripting and re-recording video tutorials at my quiet home office than from the busy company offices. There are operational budget savings to consider too. The company avoids having to pay for my workspace, electricity, etc – expenses that tele-workers may claim as tax deductions (please check with a certified public accountant). Other staff can also use the office desk I would otherwise be sitting at. There is greater accountability while working from home because telecommuters must communicate their successes to their supervisor and stakeholders. Once a week with my supervisor, I review the tasks I have accomplished, those I am currently working on, and others I plan to attend to. Working from home also offers me greater flexibility: if the DAM system requires attention on short notice, I am setup to log in from home. Once I’ve clocked out, I can spend more time doing what I love including cooking (arguably work research). There are some drawbacks to consider too. In person meetings are impossible from home. Managing DAM staff also requires more time and effort.
How I planned to telecommute
- Spend time at the office: I travel to the office at least once a week, more often if a project warrants it. On these days, I attend face-to-face meetings and regularly stop by the desks of our system’s power users. As a member of a virtual team (i.e., DAM software developer), you may opt for weekly synchronous online meetings instead.
- Set up a home office: My workplace is quiet and intended to be used solely for work. It includes a comfortable sit-stand desk and a chair, adequate light, and the fastest internet connection available. The way I have setup my office helps me avoid unnecessary distractions.
- Clearly define your goals: Each morning I review a list of yearly goals, associated tasks, and deadlines. Knowing what needs doing gives my work much needed direction.
- Have a routine: My workday aligns with the company’s regular operating hours. Naturally, there has been weekend and evening work to upgrade the system and to re-index metadata fields, but the bulk of my time is spent online at the same time the DAM system users are active.
- Take frequent breaks: My mind is often focused on multiple challenges at once, puzzling out the best possible solution. Regular breaks helps me return to puzzle-solving with a fresh perspective. I’ve come up with my best ideas after meditating or going to the gym. Other work-from-home DAM pros seem to agree.
- Communicate: Sending emails, posting updates, recording short videos about new system features, etc. are part of a successful DAM strategy: more so while working from home. Communicating expectations and conducting regular training sessions is especially important with DAM staff you may be managing.
- Dress the part: we’ve all daydreamed of working in our pajamas. If you’re serious about working from your home office, though, dress as if you are working there. I don ironed shirts and dress pants, just like my colleagues in the office. Though I don’t shave everyday, it’s not because I’m lazy. I just like the way it looks.
Working from home may not be for everyone: your office culture must be open to the idea and the work you do should require long periods of “quiet time”. To be successful, telecommuting also requires that you are good at motivating yourself and excel at managing your time well. My friends often tell me they’d never stay productive while working at home because they’d be distracted. This has honestly never been a problem for me. There are so many interesting puzzles to solve that I have the opposite problem: it is more difficult to pull myself away from such absorbing work to take breaks.
Do you work from home? How do you make it work?
Gallup Inc. (2015, August 19). In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%. Retrieved December 4, 2016, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/184649/telecommuting-work-climbs.aspx
Graves, J. A. (2013, April 18). How to Work From Home Effectively. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2013/04/18/7-secrets-of-a-kick-butt-telecommuter
Kelly, T. (2005). Where is my team? a manager’s point of view on working with a team of remote information specialists. Quarterly Bulletin of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists, 50(3–4), 119–124.
Lister, K. (2010). Telecommuting Benefits: The Bottom Line (pp. 2–23). Retrieved from http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/index.php?
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (n.d.). What is telework? Retrieved December 29, 2016, from https://www.opm.gov/FAQs/