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The Great Workplace Compromise Part 3: Managing Remotely

Dave was sent home on Friday the 13th. In true spooky fashion he got back from lunch having no idea what was going on as his coworkers walked past him, carrying laptops and monitors. His entire office was being sent to work from home with no specifications on what equipment they could take or how long they would be gone. Some individuals brought home task chairs, while others who rode their bikes had to beg for a ride home with their gear. It was a little unnerving and understandably so. Now, Dave would be managing remotely for the next two years.

Managing Remotely: Dave Stout
Dave Stout
Test Development Engineer in Boise

When Managing Remotely, Make Information Accessible     

Unlike many who were sent home, Dave was partially prepared for remote work. As the manager of test engineering for onsemi’s industrial and commercial sensor division, Dave is used to managing teams in Meridian, Taiwan, and Bangalore, India. “Managing remotely is not a new thing for me, but I definitely think working from home is new for the individual contributors.” Dave started managing a local team before taking on his remote groups, so he had to learn a different management style. This semi-prepared him to help foster the development and the transition of other people from working

strictly in the office to working out. “In a way, it was perfect preparation for when we all came home for COVID. It allowed me to use similar methodologies for my local team. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time showing employees how to find information on what they were doing in different systems. Before, they could ask someone down the row from them. Now, it is more efficient for them to check our system.”

Eliminate Distractions

     However, managing remotely is different than working remotely yourself. “I have a wife and three kids (two kids at the time) and a dog. The kids didn’t have school and figured that since I was home, I could play. So, it was not just an adjustment for me but for my kids and my wife, who already worked from home full time. We had to figure out how to coexist during working hours while two kids were doing school online, and my wife and I had constant conference calls.”

Once everything settled down, Dave discovered that he got more done at home than at work. “I love working from home. My kids know not to bother me, whereas when I am working at the office, someone will come to talk to me, and I’ll get distracted. I feel like I’m a lot more efficient at home because I can eliminate the distractions of the workplace.”

“When there are issues, we will have daily meetings for a few minutes. I can ask if there are any problems I can help with and be done in five minutes compared to an entire hour. “

Dave Stout

Do Five Minute Remote Check-Ins

     Unfortunately, working from home does not work for everyone. Some of Dave’s team needs to be in the office to be most productive, while others split their time. With this new flexibility, Dave has implemented some procedures he does with his overseas teams. “When there are issues, we will have daily meetings for a few minutes. I can ask if there are any problems I can help with and be done in five minutes compared to an entire hour. It is a way we can stay in tune with each other as if we were talking over the cube wall.” 

“Working from home allows me to be more creative, energized, focused, and intentional at work and with my family.”

Dave Stout

Use Your Flexible Schedule To Be With Your Family

     Maintaining a good work/life balance is hard in the tech industry because it is cutthroat and busy. It can often look like eight-to-ten-hour days in the office with additional work at home. For Dave, working from home helped relieve the stress and find balance. “With my first two kids, I didn’t spend nearly as much time with them as I could with my third child when she was born. When the first two kids were born, I took three or four weeks off, and then it was back to work. There was a lot of growth in the first two years of their life that I wasn’t there for. “

“At home, I can walk into the kitchen, and there’s my 18-month-old running around and running up to me. I get to spend more time seeing her develop and participating in her development. My other kids come home from school now, and I can spend time with them. Then I get back to work after they go to bed and catch India as they are coming online. Working from home allows me to be more creative, energized, focused, and intentional at work and with my family.”

Man managing remotely while sitting at a green desk

Solve Problems In -Person

     As great as it is to work from home, there are times when Dave chooses to go into the office. Typically, it has to do with solving problems. “When we are jotting down ideas to solve problems, it is important to have someone’s full attention and brainpower. People don’t have their cameras on working from home, so I don’t know if they are actually paying attention. A lot of times, they are multitasking. So, when I need someone’s full attention, I’ll ask for us to sit around a table and hash it out, which gets better results. The other thing is the personal relationship with employees. Having face-to-face contact is important for developing relationships. It is easy to turn off a computer screen at home and not form relationships, so improving my relationship with my team will always pull me back into the office.”

*Dave will be featured in our next edition discussing how onsemi is handling the work from home compromise.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Great Workplace Compromise now!

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