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My name is Haley Winckler, and I am the 2020 Content Marketing Wintern (winter intern) at Centro. During my time here, I’ve worked on a variety of projects across social media and the website you’re currently on, from both the Chicago HQ office and my home in Roscoe Village, Chicago. The last two weeks of this internship also happened to fall in line with stricter social distancing measures implemented in an attempt to slow the spread of the new Coronavirus (or COVID-19). While this specific situation is certainly anomalous, for many, the concept of working remotely or working from home (WFH) is not.
Those usually not considered in the remote workforce, are interns! I have had several internships prior to this one, and in only extreme or very special situations could an intern be allowed to work from home. Even before this socially distant period, Centro’s flexibility and culture surprised me in that they were very willing to work with their interns should they need to work from home or remotely for any reason. Now, with a few weeks of working from home at Centro under my belt, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my experience.
Ultimately, I’ve concluded that there are definitely perks and challenges to this scenario. Below, find my perspective on working from home, as an intern.
Perk #1: You’re at Home!
This might sound obvious, but the best part of working from home is exactly that – you’re at home! During the workday, all the comforts of home are right at your fingertips. These might include but are not limited to: your coziest pair of socks; your pet, your favorite foods or snacks (although let’s be honest, nothing beats Chipotle…), and the glorious amenity of your own bathroom. It begs the question, “Why haven’t I worked from home before?”
Challenge #1: Your Team is also at Home
I’m a naturally social person, so I thrive when I can chat with my pod or fellow interns in the kitchen during the workday. I enjoy hearing how your day is going, or how you’re surviving the noisy construction across the street from your apartment, or about that new restaurant you tried last weekend. It can feel lonely when you’re working away from your team—and it’s sometimes easy to convince yourself that you’re out of the loop. Luckily, things like virtual happy hours and phone calls help break down those barriers and have made reconnecting easier than ever – it just may take a little extra communication and effort (and it’s worth it, I promise).
Perk #2: Commuting is Easy-Peasy
My new commute from upstairs to downstairs is far more pleasant and much quicker than my old one into the office—which consisted of a bus and a train, there and back. I’d imagine that those folks who sit through traffic every day are not missing that element of their work week at all. The extra 60 to 75 minutes in my day allow me to make myself a healthy breakfast and get a good stretch in, all before I open my email. I’ve felt more focused and grounded in the mornings as a result of this, and I hope to continue weaving it into my weekday routine (remote or not) moving forward!
Challenge #2: Distractions are Everywhe—Ooh What’s That?
Depending on your environment, it may be hard to focus or be as productive as you might’ve once been from your office. Roommates, significant others, the neighbor’s barking dogs, phone notifications, chores—they’re all right there in front of you when working from home. Self-discipline is the name of the game, and it's not always easy! I’ve found that a clear and organized to-do list, along with regular check-ins with my manager, have helped me stay on track. Oh, and breaks. It’s always good to stand up and step away from your computer every now and then to “reset” your brain. I also try to keep my phone in another room or under something on my desk—for me, “out of sight, out of mind” truly works wonders.
Perk #3: Nothing Lasts Forever
In our current situation, it’s important to remember that “this too shall pass.” I’ve been trying to focus on the silver linings—we’re lucky to be able to work from home, and hopefully our efforts will keep more people healthy and decrease the amount of time we need to spend physically apart. If you’re an intern like me who’s also working from home, know that this is a great sign from your employer—they value and trust you enough as an employee to be reliable and hardworking during this time. Don’t take that trust for granted; show up for yourself and your team every day as you usually would in the office, and kick some butt!
Lemons to Lemonade
Ultimately, attitude plays a big role in any WFH experience. Framing challenges as the rain required for a rainbow to show is a much more fun way to approach this time in our lives. If you’re an intern or young professional like me, this experience working from home is incredibly valuable. Your performance during this time can be a point to bring up in future interviews to exhibit that you’re a flexible, adaptable, productive employee in the face of stressful situations!
Interested in learning more about what it's like to work at Centro? Check out our Culture page here.