Skip to content

How Do You Remote?
Janet Waters

Join us for this episode, we will chat with Janet Waters, Accountant Manager for Becker Professional Education and explores the reality we are all experiencing with “trial and error” in the Remote Work Era. Janet champions remote work and touches on important topics including how important it is to get the right fit when working in a remote role to ensure you get a job that suits your lifestyle, the difference between on-site and remote in regard to micro-aggressions, the importance of buy-in, re-imagining KPI, shadow remote day for new hires, answering the question of ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIFM) when recruiting new remote hires, and much more!

Experience a delightful discussion centered on working in a distributed workforce.

Podcast: How do you remote? Janet Waters (Traci Frees): Hello, and welcome to today’s episode in our Howdy Remote series. Where we discuss all things related to remote work from guests representing a variety of fields. Joining me today is Janet Waters. Of Becker Professional Education where she serves as an account manager in the SoCal Los Angeles area. Janet has mostly worked remote over the last 10 years. She is what some would call a remote champion. Welcome to the show, Janet.

Janet Waters: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you.

Traci: To start out,  What are some lessons maybe you have learned or seen that works well or doesn’t work well in remote work?

Janet: If you are someone who thrives on office culture and what is said, water cooler banter and things of that nature, remote may not be suited for you. Sometimes it can feel like an island, right? Because you are at home. You have to reach out to everyone either via Zoom team, Slack, whatever your preference, Google Hangout, whatever your preference is. So sometimes it can, you know, you can’t be on an island. But for me, if you love autonomy and you love asynchronous scheduling or work, this is awesome. I love it here.  I love being I’m in control of my schedule. I love being in control of my day-to-day and I’m still, you know, more than capable of functioning as an employee.

A lot of higher ups have this thing of like, well, what do you do on our time and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know why I said it in that voice, but that’s how I feel like they come down on the remote employees, right?

Traci: Yeah, exactly.

Janet: I think it’s honestly somewhat of a generational gap as well, right? A lot of times you hear on LinkedIn, you hear employers are like, well, you know, productivity is They don’t know about your productivity. Well, you see it in in the numbers. You see it in the results. I remember during the pandemic they said  productivity has never been this high when they started going remote. And so then all of a sudden it’s like, no, we need to go back into the office. Don’t start me and down that rabbit hole.

Traci: There’s no metrics,  it’s just the narrative.

Janet: That’s it. There are people happy now. There are people happy in their work. They’re happy to be at home and they’re happy to be at home and still be able to do what they love, do what they’re passionate about. And granted, I’m not going to say everyone is passionate about their job, right? But they get the work done and then it’s closed. Closed laptop at the end of day, right? We don’t have to worry about that. So I’ll say this too as in. That as an American Black Woman, right? We would deal with so many microaggressions at the workplace. And now, I mean, I honestly, if I don’t feel like answering through an email or chat, I’m just not.

Traci: Speak to that a bit more. Give  some examples of those microgressions (on-site) versus what you your experience now (remote).

Janet: So it’s it would be easier right when. We would be on site on you know and someone would have something to say or… this is the biggest one:

A counterpart of mine both African American, a woman will be in the same room and They’ll mix us, mix us up. You know like say her name versus like I’m speaking as Janet and then they’ll call me someone else’s name and it’s like, you know who I am, right? She’s right, you know, and, oh, well, you know. I’m sorry, it’s no, you know, no hard feelings and you know, those type of things and we have to take it, you know? You have to take it and it’s like, oh, that’s just. Jim Bob, whoever he is, he’s always like that.

He’s not like that with everyone, right? He gets everyone else’s names. So now it’s just, you know, it’s funny because then, and now I just send an email like, Hey, you know, what was that about or who else like to all of my direct managers?

Because especially now in the remote world, you can have those. Everyone is still looking for those, ways to connect. So when you can have those side bars and they’re like. Oh, I didn’t know. You know, I didn’t know you felt this way or whatever the case may be. I set up some time to discuss. Let’s do that because in the office, everyone, you would say you would have an open door policy, but you would be on the clock.

So a lot of times you would have you couldn’t. Just set time out throughout the day or cause you had some that now it’s like, oh no, let’s take this time to set up some time that to discuss, you know, how you’re feeling at work and what’s going on and those type of things. So. Yeah, so it’s, one of those things like I said, I am a champion for it.

Traci: There’s a push to Let’s get away from the remote. I know you share with me an article related to this topic. What do you think is going to happen?

Janet: I don’t think it’s going to fizzle. I don’t I think even if let’s say even if they just say one day because we’ve seen through the pandemic they can shut us down any point in time, right? So I mean, so let’s say for instance they say, all right, everyone is. Going back on site, right?

There will be so much push back. And I don’t honestly think for specific companies, let’s because there are some specific companies where they don’t necessarily have the capacity, they don’t have the capacity to host all of their employees. Some companies. They’ve grown so much since the pandemic or through, you know, throughout the years that it doesn’t even make sense.

To try to buy real estate and all of that other stuff. So I do see more of. Hybrid roles, that, that are coming up a lot of just like, oh, well, you need to be on site for, 2 to 3 days and you can work remote the other couple of days. I do see that possibly being the future, but again, like for my company in particular, we travel. So there’s no reason for us to have a site job, for you do everything online anyway. You have to be out driving, catching a flight somewhere, so that makes no sense, but like for you, you are in instructional design. There’s no need for you unless there’s like some fire, for you to be on site. You can take care of whatever you need to do and it actually might make more sense for you to be at home remote. Stop by someone at the water cooler. Hey, come in. Jump on someone’s office, right?

Traci: Because on a video conference you can share screens and I can show you something in a course or something but if I’m on site I’m like well I guess we need to log in your computer.

Janet: When you can host an actual group of people online share one screen and everyone’s seeing an actual group of people online share one screen and everyone’s seeing exactly what they need to see as opposed to like, oh, well, you can host an actual group of people online share one screen and everyone’s seeing exactly what they need to see as opposed to like, oh, well, now we have to take time out of someone’s schedule. Got to get a room scheduled, for everyone to see. You remember those days, right? I was gonna call in, they can’t see, you know, the, yeah, the, right. Then you have to wait or you gotta wait for somebody because they have, you know, they can’t be on site.

They had an appointment or something like that. The beauty of remote, right? I can pop in into a meeting or. Now we can record the meetings and it’s like, okay, if you have any questions, reach out to me. Ping, ping, ping. I don’t need to be at an office to do those things. And I think for me it was like, now that I think about it, a lot of that was time waste. We’re in so many meetings. Now that we are not remote, like if I thought about it, I said if we were on site and we had this many meetings, there would be no work done.

Traci: So you’re saying you’re getting more done remote?

Janet: I’m getting good for time because I can I’m on a meeting listening right you can multitask right Before when we if we are at one side you have to leave your computer right you have to go into this room you sit there for an hour to go off the same thing everyone’s asking questions Probably the same question 3 times. But now we have a chat. I don’t need, you know, I can, I can go through my chat and answer or hey, we can talk offline. Those type of things. So I, I don’t see it being like everyone’s back on site.

Now there are some. Professions that may need to be there, right? As far as like this work is concerning, you know, who’s ever working remote now? I really don’t see there being like a push for on site.

Traci: I agree with that. I think that you mentioned something I think that’s very important. You mentioned the control and the motivation that you said that Just to bring them back on site because we’re not sure what you’re doing out there, but your numbers are showing increased productivity as remote – look at the results.

Janet: That’s not a problem of let’s bring them back on site. That’s a problem of let’s figure out how to measure their productivity. In a way that what is it your output? It doesn’t matter if you work, you know, a couple of hours here if you’re really highly productive and focused versus sitting in an office for 8 h and you get less done because you just have to be there.

Traci: But you’ve mentioned also that. You’ve noticed everyone’s happier. That get to have this type of flex schedule where they they’re responsible. But they get their work done, but they have opportunity to go take their kids somewhere or go to a recital or something like that. Tell me about that. What have been your experience or experience with others with that?

Janet: Yeah, so it’s so funny because now that I think about it, there was a time when I was on site every day. We would say like. We could do this at home. This is before remote. This is like, yeah, about 10 years ago. We could do this at home. We don’t need to be here, right? We would often say and look at each other and we would also have meetings with the higher ups like.

Do we really need to be here for this work? Like. We could do this at home and then it was this whole push back. Like, no, you have to be here because we can’t, we don’t have the manpower to give you things remote and blah, blah, blah.  And it’s like, it’s so funny because when the pandemic hit, everyone who didn’t have manifested or lie here you go right the job wasn’t like you know brain surgery or anything like that so we knew like this we don’t have to be here for this this is just and that was miserable Everyone’s looking for something where they don’t have to punch in.

From 9 to 5. Like I don’t need to be on green (on an app online). You know on Teams or you know I need to be available all day for You, you know, to see that I’m doing my work. So. That’s basically what you know what it was, we’re like. We need to be here to do this, right? And it was just like this. You need to be here, blah, blah, blah. And motivation  was down. It was, yeah. Oh, it, it was down. 100%. Like we had to be and what was that? It was like not ready time. You know, like this was one of those where they clapped you, they dinged you for like the amount of time that you were off of your computer. Yeah, it was like and I think that’s something to know as well because everyone doesn’t have like a schedule.

And I’m sorry, I know I’m getting off. But, doesn’t have a schedule remote where they can get up from their computer or wait for a certain amount of time and get up from their computer or wait for a certain amount of time and get back into their computer or wait for a certain amount of time and get back and do their work. Because it was a job where I had to do that as well. I just thought about that too.

Where it was so much coming in that you had to like. You get in what you put out.

Traci: Versus a knowledge worker that can mull things over and kind of do it at their own pace. Not a synchronous, you have to answer tickets or you have to be on the phone with someone live. It’s something that can. You have to develop it, but then there’s a later output. A deliverable not at that right there.

Janet: I like that term. Thank you for that. Yeah, so it was more synchronous work and I get that component of remote as well because it’s like, well. If you don’t have anyone to talk to or you’re just like on all day and some people are nervous because like they have to be in, you know, available all the time.

I guess it can be overwhelming, but I would say for me. It has been a breath of fresh air. I mean, honestly, to just have this control over my career, my day to day. My passion, you know, about what I do and then also to if I’m passionate about other things, right? To have that liberty to I don’t have to necessarily clock in and clock out. Those type of things like I don’t have to leave word, you know, leave an office and drive an hour.

For my commute. Well, I’m in LA, so the commute is crazy. Anyway, so that would be like 2 hours a day. Commuting back and forth if I did. Depending on where it is. So I think it’s a lot of factors to just think about when, when you talk about remote work and what that looks like for you and your company, we talk about.

Employee. I guess happiness or overall joy. You know, enjoyment for work. I feel like this is one of the markers where you’ll get a 10 across the board.

Traci: And that’s really a factor for overall motivation and productivity is how happy, how satisfied are you in your work and having that flexibility seems to be the trend. It’s not about let me just clock in or let me go and be in a building all day and I put my time in, even if I didn’t accomplish a thing, I’ve been inside that building. It’s more about the purpose of work.

Janet: Yeah, the focus has shifted. So I agree with you that I think there’s a push to return to site, but I don’t think that’s gonna last and I think what does motivate people are the freedoms that we have to work remote. And not, you know, on our own rhythm, on our own schedule.

Traci: We have more buy-in to what we’re producing because we’re feel responsible for that.

Janet: That’s it. That’s it for sure. And like you said, innate motivation. So that’s gonna last. And, and again, right? Because you, because you don’t, it’s gonna last. And, and again, right? Because you don’t, it’s sometimes it’s honestly like, okay, this is a privilege, right? So I don’t, it’s sometimes it’s honestly like, okay, this is a privilege, right? So I don’t, to catch me slacking or off for one day, they may take it away, but I think the buy in, like you said, is one of the biggest pushes to make sure that you’re like, Hey, I’m on it. And I even think about sometimes where it’s not a, some days for me, it’s not a 9 to 5 day. It could be 8 to 8 day. This is how successful you were because you did this. Sometimes it’s just doing the job.

You’re just doing the job and that gives you the opportunity to do that because let me tell you when you were then 9 to 5 on site Well, that clock was at 5:00PM: Coat zipped. Backpack on. Parking lot cleared. Don’t talk to me later. Don’t, no. So this is not the time for small talk. We gotta get there. You don’t have access to me after this is done you did not have access to me so that could be also you know some people might not like that either like oh you’re always accessible because you are in balance, right?

Yeah, but I know those boundaries very well, right? That’s important. Because if you don’t, you’re always at work. I think I think all of us who have gone remote, you know, in the last decade went through that. Is like, I have to be on all the time.

Traci: So tell me more about setting boundaries.

Janet: Don’t get me wrong, I am still a victim. Now, right? Because my job is like I’m thinking about my next thing. We all get caught up in this web of like work work work and like I want to get it done so I don’t have to do worry about it next week, right? But it’ll still be there. At the end of the day, that work will be there, set boundaries.

Have flexibility. Don’t be so rigid in your schedule to where you get overwhelmed and in this funk of like, oh, everything is pressing down on me. I guarantee you is because the adaptability is not there, right? Yes. And you have to be adaptable to anything that could possibly happen throughout your day when you’re remote.

Listen, you’re remote. You’re in the apartment building somebody could be burning some noodles or some toast and now we have a fire and I have to leave not about to take this laptop with me and Oh no, I guys, like I don’t know, I’m not doing that. I’m shutting down. I gotta go. One of those things where you do have to learn is by trial and error. But the best advice is to set boundaries and be flexible.

And with your boundaries, now that’s one thing I am firm on. Is the boundaries that I set for my personal life versus my work life because you do have that accessibility, right?

For your manager to reach you at any time of the day. You know, anyone could reach you yourself, you have, you have the app on your phone, the Teams, or Slack or whatever on your phone is it can be going off. All times, I work with people from all over the country. So before I wake up, people are already on the clock. Right, so I have opened up to like oh meeting and fine and I’m not like no what are you talking about in here? I just got up. No, so turn them off. Turn them off. Get yourself together. Take some, take some time.

Even on the clock, take some time. To adjust your schedule. That’s still considered work. People don’t realize that like setting boundaries and scheduling yourself or taking a day to just block out your calendar, and scheduling yourself or taking a day to just block out your calendar to figure out what’s happening next week. A couple of days out of the month. That’s still considered work because you’re doing it just because you’re not doing what you consider your day to day task. They don’t put that in your work description.

Traci: Being able to measure productivity is not just about the quantitative measures we say this is what your output is. It’s about those qualitative things where it’s hard to measure. If you’re ideating, you’re planning, what’s the most efficient way to do this?

You’re coming up with new ideas. Maybe you’re on a walk somewhere and you’re off the clock, but you’re thinking about work, you’re thinking about something, and it like those types of innovative areas where we are still working, but we’re off the clock should be counted. Yeah, there has to be a way to do that to really show the holistic view of the productivity and working remote.

Janet: That would be interesting. You know why? Because I think it would show on a granular level of the amount of work you actually put into your job. And that would scare a lot of higher ups to be honest, because they think, you know, was they’re not in the role. They don’t see the day today. And again, all they measure you by. Is your productivity, right?

Traci: What they define as productivity is based on old models of work for remote and hybrid.

Traci: Yes, not the new models. Yeah, that’s a new model and not really and when you get down to it if you look at your job description half of over  what you do is not. Really in that description, right? Because they don’t get down to the to, to the, minute things that, you have to do in order to be successful for your specific role. So like what I do in Los Angeles may be different for my counterpart in Orlando, right? It’s for darn sure different from what my counterpart is doing in Missouri. You know, so you can’t make it, equal to what someone is doing somewhere else. I just don’t and so if they did, you can’t make it, equal to what someone is doing somewhere else. I just don’t.

Traci: There’s gotta be a way to capture it. Maybe there’s some type of additional metric that would show a more accurate KPI. This is here’s the innovations. Here’s the things that we can’t measure on those old model.

Janet: That would blow the workforce up. I guarantee it. I guarantee it. That would. Boom. Workforce in a frenzy like. You can be burned out very quickly. Very quickly because it is overwhelming for someone who has not, if this is your first time and you’re trying to gather everything and you’re used to going.

You know, going to your manager because he’s in the office right next door or she’s in office right next door. And you can or you have someone in your next in your cubicle next to you and say, hey, can you show me how to do this? And blah, blah, blah.

It may be difficult for you to reach people remote because again, there you like to be confirmed. A lot. Oh, great job. Great job. Great job.

Traci: Because I was in that and I can’t I am in because I’d go to my direct report. I’m like, how is this? How is this? I get this down. They’re like, you have to stop.

Janet: You gotta stop bothering me. You gotta stop bothering because at the end of the day, they don’t wanna be bothered either. So as long as you’re doing your job, they are, we are, we have a great remote relationship. So it’s some where you have, oh, this is good because you do, you have to know your direct reports, right?

And those relationships and things like that. Because everyone’s style may not work with you. Like you know you wanted those confirmations right then and there, but that manager’s like, no, I’m not that, that manager, I’m very hands off, but if you need me, let me know. Some management is not like that.

They want to know what you’re doing every hour on the hour. Can you send me your schedule? Can you, and I’m like, my calendar is up to date, you know? Like, oh, you may take more time. I do things on my own. I don’t put everything on my calendar.

I don’t put everything on my calendar. Like I have my personal calendar like I have my personal calendar like my personal space, those type of things. Like I have my personal calendar, like my personal space, those type of things.

Traci: That is a great point of like just because you haven’t maybe you’ve been under a manager that did not understand your work style remote, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at remote.

Janet: Some people think, well, remote’s not for me and it’s like. You may have not just had the right opportunity. You may have not had the right management. You may have not had the right management. You may have not had the right role. That role may have not been for you remote. I had to realize that too, like, oh, this is not the type of remote I wanted to.

There’s different types of remote. And I think it is one of those fields where you gotta fit, you have to figure it out, right? It’s something where it is, this is very much so trial and error and I get it because you know, we talked about career paths and things like that.

Some people are just sure fire of like, this is what I want to do, blah, blah, blah. I’m not. I am not by any means. So I’m figured out. Right. I’m just trying to figure it out as I go. I’m figured out. Right. I’m just trying to figure it out as I go.

And that’s why I love this opportunity because it allows me to do that. It gives me so many different avenues.

Think about it. We met through this like, you know, through work. Right. And we have an opportunity to discuss our experience. In our work and I just don’t think you, no one has had a podcast of like onsite workers.

Oh, that’s why. You know, like, no, no one cares to be honest. We’ve all been there, right? That’s what it is. So I think this is just one of those. It is one of those trial and errors where You have to see for yourself one and you have to figure out what works for you. Right. You think about managing people’s strengths and finding their skill sets and all that and how new the remote is in the full history of workforce.

Traci: Think about the personality models. We’re quoting and you hear people what what are you? Well, I’m an OJTR or whatever, like the different personality spectrum and stuff, but those were based on old work models.

Janet: We still don’t have the remote work personality test. Those have not been developed. And so we’re using those old models.

Janet: We need something new for this new way of working. Connect with me personally. You know why? Cause I’m gonna tell you my style of work. And what I like to do. So even in those personality quizzes and things like that, cause I used to get hung up on those who was like, oh, I’m a number 7.

I can’t see, It’s like have a conversation. Have a conversation with me and I can tell you what I like, what I don’t like. How I’m most productive. What that looks like for me throughout my day. What I respond well to? And what I do not. And we can have that back and forth and then you okay this is gonna work or. This is not a great thing, right?  To be honest, I feel like I honestly feel like even with remote work now you should be able to do like a before you get hired on, you should be able to do a remote day of work, shadow day, right?

Yes, I can shadow what you look like on your day to day. Let me see what a meeting is. Let me see what a meeting is. Let me see what a meeting is. Let me see how you, you know, let’s have a discussion about what this looks like for me. Let me see how you, you know, let’s have a discussion about what this looks like for me. Before we have to go through all, like, I don’t want like, yes, the onboarding, all of that, let me shadow for a day and see if this is even a good fit. Because it may not be a good idea.

Traci: I have not heard that before. That’s a really interesting idea.

Janet: It’s necessary because you often get times like Oh, this, we have high turnover. You know why? Because you go through these processes of interviewing and you go from a recruiter to okay you have a job interview with this person have a job interview or something now some people are actually making you do like a. Do a presentation and something else. And it’s like. That’s extra work. I’m doing extra work to get the job and I don’t even know if I’m hired? No. You’re probably gonna use my ideas. And it’s like because it’s not proprietary. So it’s honestly like it’s my idea and I can’t trademark any of this in the amount of time that you’re giving me.

Traci: So I’m giving you my work and it’s like, oh no, people, 50 ideas, that’s an idea generation, right?

Janet: That’s it right there. That’s it.

Traci: And it’s like, oh, we never, we never intended to hire anyone. We had a this was an opportunity for think tanks only. Exactly.

Janet: Oh my gosh that’s so funny. Yes, yes, because I spent all weekend preparing a presentation and then I never. Because you’re like, I’m gonna get this job. No, no, no, thank you. I appreciate your services. No, but I feel like this like remote shadow day would be a great opportunity like even if sure it’s a good fit the culture. And that’s yes. A remote is mostly about the culture. That on offsite culture, yes. 

Traci: Are there any other just thoughts to leave us with?

Janet: I think the last year, again, I think I’m just gonna reiterate remote work. Is not for everyone. Right. I think we also need to understand that everyone is looking for a remote opportunity and I think that’s why it’s scaring.

A lot of higher ups as well. Because everyone wants to be home because they think it’s like, well, I’ll be home and I. You know, I’ll just be home doing my work and it’s like, it’s not for everyone. So just know that I feel like again this is one of those, we’re in this new era of trial and error.

Right, in the workplace. And I think you have the opportunity we have the greatest opportunity now if you are not in a position to say this is exactly what I wanna do.

If you are open to exploring. Do it. Do it. Explore your opportunities. Explore your. Your options right from remote to hybrid explore those opportunities to where you see where you fit culturally where your schedule fits, what is fitting for your lifestyle.

That’s the biggest. What job is fitting for your lifestyle? Stop worrying about. 6 in your life around your job. What job suits your lifestyle.

Traci: Because that’s sustainable. That’s locally sourced and sustainable.

Janet:  Yeah, that is really, really good. And it’s just a different way to think about remote, not only from the interview if you’re looking for a job, but from the leaders viewpoint of how to bring everybody in and make that job about the strengths and the buy-in. And so that there’s a fit because culture is a very fluid idea in remembrance.

You know, when you’re on site, it’s a different thing. It seems to be, Yes, out of there. Really quick on the paperwork, right? We had we had a time. It’s time for you to go. Those type of things but she’s again cultural it’s fluid through out remote and I think like you said buy in that’s the biggest thing that I’ve heard is the buy in. What’s the buy in for you? What’s in it for me? Everyone is a with them, right? And I don’t disagree. Right? It’s very much so what’s in it for me?

And you have to think about that. You are. Speaking about your career because again, these companies that look at you that way as well. That’s why you get hired. What’s in it for them? Want to find someone who’s going to be productive? That’s it. And then that’s I think that’s where it comes down to with us is how do you measure that productivity.

Traci: And I think we touched on some amazing ideas. We’re gonna have to expand on those. Again, we’re gonna have to definitely have you back, but then it’s like reimagining the KPI. Yes, I love that. I love that. It’s own podcast.

Janet: Oh, for sure. Well, Janet, I really appreciate you joining us today and sharing all of your valuable insights with over a decade of experience. I appreciate you.

Janet: Thank you so much for this opportunity. This was great. Thank you so much.

Traci: And I want to thank our listeners for tuning in to workforce remote. Dot org’s podcast. Our goal is to help you continue to go remote and work on.