The Working Parent's Guide to Working from Home (or Anywhere Else)

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CC Chapman is an author and entrepreneur who works full time from home. If you're trying to adopt a flexible work style that allows you work outside the office, CC's guide to working from anywhere is …

CC Chapman is an author and entrepreneur who works full time from home. If you're trying to adopt a flexible work style that allows you work outside the office, CC's guide to working from anywhere is written for you. Read on to find CC's advice on staying productive and maintaining work-life balance as you adopt a flexible work style.

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  • 1. The Working Parents Guide toWorking from Home (or Anywhere Else) By C.C. Chapman, founder of Digital Dads Sponsored by
  • 2. IntroductionMy Name is C.C. Chapman, and I’m a family-first entrepreneur.I make a living speaking and telling stories in every medium I can find. I’m the co-author of the best selling book Content Rules, andmy next book Amazing Things Will Happen hits shelves in November 2012.I’m the host of Passion Hit TV and the founder of Digital Dads, as well as a member of the Cast of Dads parenting podcast.I believe that having a strong work ethic is the key to success in any career, but I also know that when you are a parent, keeping abalance between a happy home and a happy work life is not easy. My hope is that this guide will give you some tips, tricks andtechnology to help make it a bit easier.I’ve worked from home for six years and spend lots of time working on trains, planes and in hotel rooms. In that time, I’ve learned alot about the keys to effectively balancing work and everything else.What follows is a mix of real world advice mixed with technology know-how to make your days productive, balanced and enjoyable.Read on to discover the tips, tricks and technology I use to stay on top of my work while giving my family the love and attention theywant and need.- C.C. Chapman
  • 3. You Can’t Parent-ShiftBefore we jump into the wonderful world of workshifting, let’s make one important reminder: It is impossible to “parent-shift.” Whilethe right tools make it easy to work on your terms, it’s tough to do the same with parenting.A good parent is an active and involved one. While technology makes it easier than ever for us to work at any hour of the day, fromanywhere in the world, we have to remember to turn it off and spend time with our kids.Some days it is harder than others, but I try to remind myself that when the kids get home from school there is a good chance they willneed my help on their homework. I try not to schedule meetings during the first hour they are home so that I can be as accommodatingas possible.I also know that many of us will work around the clock if given the opportunity. This is especially true if you own our own business,like I do. But make sure you balance this with going to your children’s activities and spending time with them at night.My wife and I try to find at least one show that we watch with the kids. That way we can sit down on the couch, fire up the DVR andshare some time together laughing and talking.I also try to make sure to spend time with each child. My son loves playing video games and my daughter is little miss creative. Doingthings that they want to do goes a long way to showing them how much you love them.Finally, don’t forget to talk to them. I’m always making sure that I know who their newest and best friends are and if there are anyproblems at school or elsewhere. I talk to them so I know what’s going on. These talks are sometimes as simple as “How are youdoing? Everything ok?” and getting barely more than a, “Yup, all is good.” But these regular check-ins help me rest assured that theyknow that I care and am there for them. Kids are faced with so many challenges these days. Now more than ever parents need to playan active role in their children’s lives. I try to never forget that.
  • 4. Workshifting: Making It Work for You Workshifting is using technology to get work done, anywhere and any time outside of the traditional office space. It’s telework, flexible work, working from home and working from anywhere all mixed into one term. It’s attending video conference meetings, remotely accessing your work computer, and hosting files in the cloud among other things. When the majority of the work you do and the interactions you have are computer-based, does it really matter where you physically are when you do that work? Company cultures have been embracing this concept more and more as the technology improves to keep up productivity while away from the office. It shouldn’t matter if you are in a hotel room on vacation, on your sun porch or in the neighborhood coffee shop as long as the work is getting done. This is workshifting. The Work-Life Balance If you are a parent, your life is automatically busy. A recent study shared on TechRepublic shows that 86 percent of working 86 percent of working mothers and 74 percent of working fathers feel stressed. This fact ismoms and 74 percent of understandable, but the fact that 35 percent of American workers say their main cause for stress is work working dads feel interfering with their family or personal time isn’t. stressed. Workshifting — even for a few days a week — can cut out the stress of commuting, going to work when you’re sick and feeling like you can’t take the time necessary to be there for your family and also get your work done. And a happy individual leads to a happier family, so if you aren’t motivated to try workshifting for your own benefit, do it for your family. Technology provides us the tools for work-life balance, but it’s up to us to establish and maintain that balance. It is crucial that we all find a work-life balance that works for us, for our families, for our lives. As with all the parenting guides we read when we first found out we were going to become moms and dads, it is up to you to decide which advice works for you. And just like changing diapers, trying to alleviate teething pain and experiencing late nights with kids who refuse to go to sleep, the only way to find out what works is by trying different approaches until you discover what works.
  • 5. Here are some tips that work for me. Hopefully some of them will work for you as well.● Set Your Work Hours. I have an office in my house and my phone is rarely far from me. But I try to keep solid work hours so that my family remembers who I am. My standard day starts when the kids go to the bus stop and ends when my wife gets home from work.● Email Can Wait. Every productivity guide out there will tell you not to check your email every couple of minutes, and, while this is a hard habit to break, you need to. When you are spending time with your family, do not check email. If it is easier, leave the phone in another room. If it is really an emergency, someone will call you. The person that controls how soon you should reply to an email is you. Always remember that.● Sit Down to Dinner. Those of you with older children know how hard it is to fit dinner in between sports, drama and other activities. Add in business travel, client dinners and big projects and it only gets harder. But, the conversations and laughs that come from sitting down over a meal with your family are invaluable and important. Try to do it at least once a week and don’t sit down in front of a television, but at a real dining room table where there are no distractions.● Establish a Family Calendar. My wife and I share our electronic calendars with each other, but there isn’t a solid family calendaring app that I’ve found yet. Because of this we rely on a good old-fashion whiteboard calendar on our fridge. Every Sunday night my wife (bless her) writes out the schedule for the week. Each of the kids and us has our own color, so we can quickly scan to see what the week holds for us. This is extremely helpful — especially when I’m on the road.
  • 6. I’m still waiting for someone to make an online/offline digital calendar that simply works and syncs with all my devices. Let me know if and when you find one. Twitter: @cc_chapman. ● Set Boundaries With Your Kids. I’m fortunate to have doors on my home office. Our rule is if the doors are closed you can only bother me if someone is bleeding. I only close the doors when I absolutely can’t be bothered. I try to keep them open unless I’m on a phone call, in a GoToMeeting session or recording a podcast. My kids are old enough to respect these rules. If your children are young, it might be harder for them to understand. This is where having a supportive partner comes in handy.66 percent of American ● Open Dialog With Your Spouse. workers suffer from This is probably the best advice I can give you to successfully establish work-life balance. When your stress-induced health significant other is unhappy with your work-life balance, it will affect both your work and your personal issues. life, so have a conversation with your partner to allow them to weigh in on your arrangement. Then check in periodically to make sure the plan is still working for everyone involved. In your early days of workshifting, your partner might expect you to be able to do household chores, run errands or complete other non-work related tasks while you’re at home. Once you get into the swing of things this may be an option, but at first it’s important to establish the lines between work and home life. You’ll likely be adjusting to your new normal, where it’s sometimes hard to tell life from work. Be sure you communicate on a regular basis about workshifting-related concerns and worries. This is relationship 101 advice, but it’s important. Trust me on this. ● No Phones at the Table or in the Bedroom. This falls in line with checking your email, but when you are spending quality time with your family there is no need for technology. When I go to bed I leave my phone plugged in on my desk. Anyone who might need to get ahold of me in the middle of the night has my home phone number. At dinnertime, I remember that voicemail was invented for a reason — for when I’m unavailable — so I leave my phone in a different room.
  • 7. When Work Takes You Away From Your Family One of the main reasons that workshifting as a way of life became so commonplace is that many of us travel for both work and pleasure; so workshifting began as a necessity to getting work done while traveling. Now the freedom we gain from being a workshifter is amazing. Being a keynote speaker and someone who travels for writing and photography assignments, I’m constantly looking for ways to stay connected with my family at home. As much as I love visiting new places and experiencing new things, I hate when it takes me away from my family. Here are some things I do to help me stay to connected to my family while I’m away.● Leave Morning Messages. Depending on the time difference, start off your morning with a phone call or email updating your family on what you are up to that day. This is a great way for your partner and kids to stay involved in the trip and know what your day looks like. If you have time to get up and send tweets to your business partners and emails to your colleagues, you definitely have time for a family email. I do this first, and, now that my kids are old enough, I try to send them individual emails as well. The more personal, the better.● Schedule Video Time. Video conferencing is a more personal way to say hello, and fortunately it’s really easy too. I use GoToMeeting for work, but when I’m traveling, I use it to keep in touch with my family too. The hardest part is scheduling an appropriate time between time zones, events and meetings, but I get creative and try to make this happen at least once on every trip, especially now that I can do it from my iPad. A phone call can keep you connected, but nothing is better than seeing each other’s faces.● Minimize the Time Away. I often catch very early or late flights in order to minimize the time away from my family. I know that if I leave early in the morning I’m up and out the door before they wake, which I’ve found to be much easier. I often will get home very late, but when they wake up I’m there for a big hug. While I’d love to spend more time at the conferences, towns and companies I visit, I’d much rather be home with my family.
  • 8. ● Bring Buddies. This idea is actually one from my kids, and one that I think you should adopt. Have your kids give you something they love to take with you on your trip to serve as your travel buddies. I have a stuffed elephant and dragon that have been around the world with me. They make me think of the kids while I’m gone. Sometimes I will take a photo of them doing silly things in my hotel room to send to my kids. This always makes the kids smile, and it’s a fun thing to look forward to while I’m away.● Email Your Kids. This of course depends on how old they are, but as soon as you are comfortable, give them an email address and show them how to check their mail. There is nothing like getting a note from your kids while on the road and I like to think it makes their days when I write them a personal note from the road.● Bring Back Mementos. My kids know that if I’ve never been to a city before that I’ll bring something back for them. The standard is a keychain for my son and a snow globe or pin for my daughter. When I give them the gifts I explain what is on them and if I visited the landmark or not. These always make for great conversations and allow me to share the trip with them.● Take Them With You. I haven’t been able to do this as much as I’d like, but recently I took my daughter with me to a speaking engagement. We called it the “Daddy & Daughter Road Trip,” and I’m sure that we created memories that will last us a lifetime. Plus, when you do this your kids get to see you work, which is a good life experience. This isn’t always possible, but give it a try if the opportunity presents itself.
  • 9. Collaborating with Your Team from AnywhereIt doesn’t matter if I’m in my office, at the local coffee shop or on the other side of the world speaking ata conference: If I’m going to be successful with workshifting, I’ve got to stay in touch and be able towork with my team members remotely.I’ve been using GoToMeeting more and more to quickly, securely and cost-effectively collaborate withmy team face to face.While GoToMeeting has been around for quite sometime,Citrix has most recently added the video conferencingfeature, which was built on the idea that everyone shouldbe able to collaborate face to face from anywhere withoutthe need for expensive hardware or video systems. This isgreat because I don’t have to worry about the bandwidthor what device the other people on the call are connectingwith because the software handles it all.I really like the new iPad and iPhone app versions ofGoToMeeting that allow me to connect to any otherGoToMeeting that someone else hosts. I’ve tried it andfound that there is no better place to do a meeting thankicked back on a park bench with my iPad. Figure 1 Citrix Project Manager, Ryan M.Recently, while working on this eBook, I couldn’t check in to tending to business both personal andmy hotel room on the road, so I had to meet with my editor professional.on my iPad in the hotel lobby. I was worried about doing thisover the cellular network since I didn’t have Wi-Fi access at the moment. I’m happy to report that itworked just fine.No matter what technology you use, the important thing is staying in touch.Online meetings with video conferencing transport us to the office when we can’t be there. If you are ina corporate environment, you need people to not miss you being in the office.
  • 10. Here are some day-to-day workshifting tips I’ve learned over the years:• Be Extra Productive in the Early Hours. It is amazing how much work you can get done when most people are commuting. Once I’m up and the kids are off to school I make sure to get as much done as possible. Most coworkers won’t be in the office yet, so I’m less likely to be distracted by phone calls, emails or Twitter.• Send Those Emails. During that quiet time I make sure to send the emails that I need responses on soonest. Most people sit down and go through their inbox first thing in the morning, so aside from being at the top of their inbox, your name in their inbox will be a good reminder to your fellow employees that you are working.• Always Be Reachable. No matter where you are in the world or what you are doing, you never want your team to feel as if they can’t reach you. Even if I’m in a very distant time zone, I make sure everyone has my phone number if something urgent arises during work hours in his or her time zone.• Use Chat to Stay Top of Mind. You don’t want to become annoying, but keep your instant messaging/chat application of choice open whenever you are working so that people can see you are online. Every so often (don’t be annoying) say hello to members of your team to check in. This is a great way to stay on everyone’s radar, and when you have a simple question chat is much quicker than writing another email.• Turn Off Your Phone’s Signature. There is no need to have a signature in your email explaining where you were when you sent it. Go into your phones setting and turn off the auto signature that explains that the message was sent from a mobile device. Why would anyone care what device you are sending your email from? You don’t put “written from my desk in a cubicle” do you? The better connection you have with your team, the less they will think about the fact that you are not physically in the office.
  • 11. Keeping the Office Only a Click Away I’m fortunate that the only computer I use is my laptop. When I’m home I have it docked to a large monitor and use a regular keyboard and mouse. All of my important files are either stored on it’s hard drive or in the cloud so that I can access them from anywhere and truly workshift. I know this isn’t the case for everyone; most people have a work computer in the office, where their files are stored. How many times have you had to take care of a sick child or other unexpected event and, when you went to do some work away from the office, realized you didn’t have the files you most Top benefits of needed? implementing In these emergency cases, I recommend a remote access tool like GoToMyPC. Remote access to your workshifting include work computer is the best friend to a parent who wants to make sure they can get to their work filesincreasing productivity from another computer wherever they may be. and attracting and The software is easy to set up, but I recommend doing a test connection from home one night after work retaining top talent. just to be sure everything is right for when the time comes that you need to rely on this technology.- Citrix Global Workshifting Once you are up and running you’ll be able to connect to your office computer from any other computer Index exactly as if you were sitting down at it. This is great for when you need that file that you forgot or access to a program that you don’t have installed on your home computer.
  • 12. Taking Family Vacations I grew up spending a week every summer with my family piling in the car and driving to a national park or other campground. We’d set up the tent, cook on the grill and end up forming some of the best memories of my life. Companies give us vacation time for a reason, and yet how many of us truly take the time to unplug and enjoy the time with our families? Once you get into the workshifting mentality there is no excuse not to. Plus, no one wants their kids to only have memories of their parents working rather than playing with them while on vacation. To make the most of your vacation, try these tactics.● Set your out-of-office notification. Be short, direct and original. Just because everyone who reads this won’t be out of the office, doesn’t mean you can’t be a bit playful with it. Be sure to provide a contact at the office that can be contacted or emergencies.● If you must, work when the kids are sleeping or busy. No one wants to be the parent on the beach with a laptop or having a business call while the family is enjoying ice cream. Work on essential items only during the hours that the kids are sleeping or when they are occupied doing other things.● If you must schedule meetings, make them short. Let your team know that you only have 15 minutes and fire up a quick GoToMeeting session so that you can all see each other. Make sure that everyone has any documents or presentations they want to show you ready ahead of time so that no actual meeting time is wasted.● Don’t have anything push to your phone. You and I both know that if your phone vibrates, you are going to look at it every time. This isn’t what a vacation is supposed to be about. Before you leave be sure to change your mail settings to only check when you do so manually. That way, if you have a few free minutes or if there is some quiet time, you can check. Don’t forget that if something is truly important, your co-workers have your mobile number
  • 13. and can get ahold of you.● Read, but don’t respond. You have an out of office message for a reason, and that is to notify everyone that you are on vacation. If you need to, feel free to read your messages so that you can keep up to date on what is going on in the office, but never respond unless it is absolutely critical. Because the minute you respond to one, everyone knows you are checking your email and will expect you to respond to others. It’ll be tempting to stay on top of email, but trust me: It isn’t worth it to lose time with your family.● Go somewhere without service. This is my favorite tactic, but it isn’t always practical and the spots where you can do this are getting fewer every day. But there is no better way to have a relaxing, family-focused and unplugged vacation than going somewhere where your phone won’t get service and the Internet connection is spotty or nonexistent. I see too many that people won’t take a vacation for fear of falling behind in some way. I blame the constant river of news that we are all use to online these days. We’re plugged in to the max, and it’s hard to realize that until we take the time to unplug. Unplugging completely means you might miss some little things going on at the office, but the time you spend with your kids running on the beach or at an amusement park is what matters in the long run. So when you can, unplug completely.
  • 14. How You Can Start Workshifting By now, I’m sure you want to dive into the world of workshifting, but you might be wondering how to get your boss on board with the idea.An overwhelming majority Thankfully, more and more CEOs, bosses and managers are realizing that flexible work is both convenient and productive. In the plugged-in world that we live in, they would likely notice your lack ofof the organizations response in email or the delay in project completion if you were reading at the beach instead of working.surveyed in the Citrix So while each day there are more companies jumping aboard the flexible work train, there are still waryGlobal Workshifting Index companies who may take some convincing.(93 percent) are embracingworkshifting, with 37 So how can you get your company to start allowing you to do this?percent reporting that they First and foremost, you’ve got to be a good employee to start. If you haven’t had great reviews, have aalready provide a flexible tendency to be late or are not an excellent employee for other reasons, then you can bet that they are notwork environment and a going to allow you to do this. Working from home is a privilege given to employees who are trusted byfurther 57 percent planning management. Plus, having a strong work ethic is a must if you aim to keep your productivity up outsideto do so within two years. of the office.- Citrix Global Workshifting Index But, considering you downloaded this document and are reading it, I’m going to make the assumption that you are a stellar employee. Start with these steps towards introducing workshifting to your manager: 1. Talk to Human Resources. It is possible that your company may already have a policy in place around remote working, and it never hurts to ask. Plus, if you want to start doing this on a regular basis, HR is going to have to get involved at some point. So the sooner you start chatting with them the better. 2. Work from Home One Day.
  • 15. The next day you wake up feeling less than 100 percent, but not full blown sick, let your boss know that you are not feeling well and don’t want to make others sick and ask to work from home. Then make sure that it is a highly productive day. Since no one is going to be stopping by your desk for idle chit-chat, you can make sure that you are overly productive. If you had meetings scheduled, attend them from home via GoToMeeting. Keep up on your email and let people know they can contact you by phone or online meeting if necessary. If you’re not taking a sick day, you need to be available. This is a great test for both you and for your co-workers to see if your job can be done remotely or not.3. Talk to Your Direct Supervisor. If you’re serious about workshifting, you need to talk to your direct manager about it. Start by explaining the source of your stress and propose workshifting as the solution. You might also propose a test period with regular check-ins to see how the arrangement works for you, your boss, your team and the company. If regular workshifting isn’t an option, see if you can get them to agree to allow it when needed, like when you or your child is sick, in order to keep up your productivity. Over time they may enjoy that you can continue to work even when spontaneous events prevent you from working in the office. They may take convincing. If you had a successful work from home test day, mention how well it went that day. Also, show them sites like and reports like the Global Workshifting Index that highlight how commonplace flexible work is. Perhaps they will even adopt it for themselves. It’s unlikely that you’ll evolve your job into one where you workshift full time, and the success of the arrangement is partly dependent on your company’s interest in offering tools conducive to mobile working. When we talk about flexible work environments, what we’re really talking about is a shift in work culture toward convenient, productive and cloud-based processes.
  • 16. In ConclusionWorkshifting is a powerful movement that many of us use to balance our life and careers. As a parent,I’ve found that it allows me to have both the home life and the career I want at the same time.Some days it is harder than others. When my kids wereyounger, it was harder for them to understand theboundaries between me working and not. But, as theygot older they learned the difference, and it gets easierevery day. I’ve been doing it for six years now, andthere are definitely still hard days. It isn’t all poolsideconference calls and GoToMeeting sessions during atrain ride.But I can’t imagine working any other way. Thefreedom technology has given me to literally work fromany location with the devices in my backpack is apowerful feeling.You too can balance a happy home and a fulfillingcareer. Every day men and women around the globe finda way to make it work, and I promise that learning toworkshift is easier than most bouts as a parent.If I can ever be of assistance to you or if you havequestions, please email me or pick up a copy of my new Figure 2. Citrix Product Marketing Manager,book Amazing Things Will Happen that talks a lot more Janell R. workshifting and cheering at theabout finding balance in your life. Mavericks game with her son.
  • 17. Appendix – Technology recommendationsWhile it takes mental discipline and supportive managers to get the most out of workshifting, Citrixprovides several great pieces of technology to help make it possible. These products are easy to use andmost helpful.GoToMeetingThe best part about GoToMeeting video conferencing is that it’s mobile and high-definition.Need to quickly get together with your team on a secure video call? Fire up GoToMeeting and instantlyyou can collaborate on documents and share screens while seeing each other in crystal clear video.Email is a distant second to a face-to-face online meeting, because sometimes you need to see the peopleyou are working with. My favorite part is that if you have an iPad with a built-in camera you can shareand see video streams in the meeting as well.GoToMyPCGoToMyPC gives people the ability to remotely access and work on their computers from anycomputer. This easy and secure service works on PCs and Mac computers, through firewalls and withoutthe need for pre-installed client software. This means that as long as you can find an Internet connection,you can access the computer on your office desk just as if you were there. Think of all the places youcould get work done with a better view than your office.GoToWebinarI make part of my living as a speaker, and while being on stage in person is always the preferred way toengage a crowd, sometimes it is just not possible. Thanks to GoToWebinar, I have another option.GoToWebinar brings the power of professional web events to individuals and organizations, allowingthem to reach larger audiences more easily and cost-effectively than ever before. I can work with eventorganizers to set up a talk to an audience located anywhere in the world.The best part is that I don’t have to sacrifice the quality of my presentation since I can share slides, andthe audience can ask questions and I can interact with them.
  • 18. Citrix solutions combined with being able to access any of my data in the cloud from my laptop, tabletor phone, has made workshifting a way of life for me.But just because I can work around the clock from anywhere in the world, it doesn’t mean that I chooseto. The most powerful feature of the workshifting lifestyle is that we are each in control of how andwhen we work. Never forget that. -
  • 19. About C.C. ChapmanC.C. Chapman is a writer, professional speaker, photographer and explorer. He is a graduate of Bentley University and loves nothing more thantraveling the world and sharing everything he sees and experiences. His work has appeared on the pages of Rolling Stone and the Wall StreetJournal. His thoughts and words have appeared on CNN, Fox and many online properties. C.C.s next book Amazing Things Will Happen: A RealWorld Guide to Success and Happiness arrives this winter. Find out how you can work with C.C. at GoToMeetingOnline Meetings Made EasyGoToMeeting is the extremely simple, extraordinarily powerful web conferencing service from Citrix. It integrates HD video conferencing, screensharing and audio conferencing, allowing you to collaborate effectively online in a face-to-face environment. Hold unlimited meetings for one lowflat fee and attend meetings from a Mac, PC and mobile devices. GoToMeeting will change the way you work – and perhaps a whole lot more. Tolearn more, visit GoToMyPCAccess Your Mac or PC from AnywhereCitrix GoToMyPC is the fast, simple-to-use and secure remote access tool that lets you instantly connect with your Mac or PC from any Internetconnection – including from your iPhone, iPad or Android tablet. With GoToMyPC, you can access your office computer at home or on the go, soyou can have the freedom to get work done from wherever you need to be. To learn more, visit