Remote work is still very popular in the US, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, some of the more prominent companies are beginning to make plans for their employees to come back to the office now that the COVID threat is not seemingly as dire as it used to be before we had vaccines and other methods to fight the virus. Our public transit systems are still not back to their original number of passengers; some places still ask for masks to work when in tighter quarters. We still see reminders to be vigilant of the virus from past flyers, postings, and information seen in public. Will it be again even closer to normal in 2023 and beyond? It remains to be seen!
My experience has been a roller-coaster ride that has taught me much about myself, my family, and people. When it all started, all of us, my wife and two school-aged children, were taking as many precautions as possible so that we would not encounter the virus in public. This situation lasted almost two years as we all continued to do what we could to ensure we would not catch the virus.
Once we were all fully vaccinated, close to the holidays in 2021, we finally felt a sense of relief and normalcy while the children did go back to school. My wife went back into the office in the late summer before we all had our shots; I continued to work from home or in other environments that were as safe as possible.
In 2022, we have been much more relaxed, and while I still work away from an office, I am used to it now. Still, it is much more different when navigating this world of remote work when it is just you at home versus everyone, which makes things a lot more difficult to all try and work and coexist in the same places, all while conducting Zoom meetings and classes.
After kids are on the bus to school, my schedule is flexible, and I work whenever possible. I can also work just about anywhere, especially if I need to be closer to my kids to get them to an appointment, sports, etc., while doing more work to finish the day once they are in bed for the night. I also feel very autonomous in my environment and free to get work done as I need to get it done and in time now.
Outside of weekend activities and the occasional professional conference or meetup, working remotely can be very lonely without regularly seeing people you know or work with. While I am forever grateful for the team I work with at Scalarr and appreciate the opportunities we get together virtually, it isn’t 100% the same.
Another potential drawback has been trying to do as much as possible with my team and clients in different time zones while also balancing getting kids ready to get to school and other things that need to be done before they’re coming home from school. I am humbled by those who work around my schedule, but I also feel a little guilty when I can’t give them as much attention as I would like online and need help, guidance, or answers.
Regarding what helps me manage myself and be self-disciplined, I think trying to take the lessons learned earlier in the pandemic and applying some of those strategies has been best in helping me now. I generally list items I need to accomplish daily before the day begins so I know exactly what I need to achieve before the day is complete. .
I do my best to stay self-disciplined and stick to this list by blocking out as many distractions as possible and scheduling little slivers of free time throughout the day. That way, I can break up the day and take care of those daily items that are not work-related or give me a breather from the routines I have established on the work front. This combination helps me stay productive during my work time each day and leaves me with as little work as I need to do when I am with my family so I can concentrate on time with them as best as possible.
Being a CSM in remote mode doesn't differ much from a CSM in an office. The most significant difference, primarily due to the pandemic, is that we don't see each other as often as we would like, even for annual or quarterly meetings to discuss how working with our company and vice-versa is going. I am hopeful this will change in the next 6-12 months as my clients go back to their own offices, but perhaps even be able to visit our international clients who I have not yet met in my three years here at Scalarr.
The best approach to virtual relations is to continually be on alert for all types of communication from clients (and their partners) and respond to them as soon as possible, preferably no later than 24 hours, so that they know you are on top of things. Many of my clients are 10 hours ahead of my time zone, so I make sure to do as much as I can during the morning so that they know I am working towards answering their questions or finding solutions to issues brought up in conjunction when the Scalarr team is working and closing their days. If I can align everything correctly, I can start working on urgent items that same day. Luckily, my clients understand the possibility of delays, which helps make things better for me and our relationships.
Vlad, our first-ever US hire, handed down many of the current CSM processes. While Vlad's no longer working at Scalarr, I learned a lot from him on how to be effective in my position. For example, reject negotiations with traffic partners on behalf of our clients. The way he set our department for success was top-notch and continues to ring true for most of what we do today.
Over a year ago, I took on the challenge of re-engineering established processes, whether onboarding templates for new clients, ways to leverage our deeper, graphical reports, or giving clients my personal touch to evolve them into the current way we work with.
I’ve documented processes for anyone who works with me, whether in the US or abroad, and helped train them to offer a consistent message to our clients. Without consistency, it becomes much harder for us to do our job efficiently when there could be lots of potential for strife and finger-pointing when one person says one thing. Still, the opposite is how it could be better handled based on our experiences.
I have worked with international teams for almost 15 years, mainly in the mobile world. From engineers, CSMs, product managers, sales representatives, and CEOs, working directly with people from abroad is very common in the mobile space because of the costs associated with teams outside the US.
My personality helps me coordinate with internal and external teams to try and find the best solution for all parties. I remain calm, logical, and humble, which allows my colleagues to rely on me to regroup with everyone, figure out the best solution possible, and deliver it shortly afterward.