Obsidian’s longest-tenured telecommuting team member, Kelli Brignac, has been working for our firm from her hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, since 2013, when her husband received a great job opportunity that lured them away from Memphis. Now a mommy to 1-year-old Cecilia, Kelli says remotely working for Obsidian allows her to have a much easier work-life balance while being able to further her career in a profession she enjoys. We dug a little deeper into her telecommuting experience and how she gets it all done in this month’s staff spotlight.
What is your favorite thing about working remotely?
It has to be the flexibility it offers. I can’t even imagine having a child and having to get myself ready in the morning, too. I get so much more sleep because I don’t have to do my makeup! It also is so efficient. Obsidian is always flexible enough to allow moms to run diapers to daycare or something, but it doesn’t take me as much time because I’m already home and don’t have to make two stops to do something like that. It is also efficient in terms of the work. In Memphis, three meetings might take all day by the time I have to travel between them. Here, I just pick up the phone. My meetings are shorter, and I can get more done in between.
Name a challenge (or two or three) with working remotely.
The biggest challenge is lack of face time with everyone (that includes clients and co-workers). Google Chat and video conferencing helps, but every time I come in person, I remember how much I miss everyone. The same goes for when the team is doing a Fun Team or Off the Rock outing or even just a potluck lunch together. I really miss getting to participate in those things regularly.
Another challenge would be turning work off. As nice as it is to walk four steps from my bedroom to my office, it can also be tough to make sure I’m separating work from life. Now, I turn my computer off when I leave for the day and only turn it on again if totally necessary before the next morning. But especially before kids, when I didn’t really have a hard stop time, I would sometimes find myself continuing on until 6 or 7 p.m. At that point, Blake was also in serious study mode for various Series 7 or CFP tests, so it was both of us working late. But work-life balance is a daily decision when you work at home!
Finally, I would say that one more challenge is socializing in general. I don’t go out for lunch, really, so I have to make sure I make an effort to get out of the house, see people and network with other young professionals here in Lake Charles.
What are your keys to success in working remotely?
First of all, I have a dedicated office in our home. I think that’s most important. I don’t work in my bed or on the couch. But, I also really think tracking hours (billable time) helps keep me honest (for lack of a better term). Not that we don’t have plenty of work to stay busy, but I think it would be easy to get less done if I didn’t log of all my activities each day.