Blocked in. Mary Shea had arrived early to drop off her son John Michael at day care, as usual. And, being a strict follower of rules since her days at Our Lady of Hope School, she parked in a designated parking space near the entrance. Other moms and dads obviously did not go to Our Lady of Hope, however, and by the time Mary came out of the center after dropping John Michael off, they had blocked her in. She needed to wait to be freed from her spot before she could procure a venti latte that would alleviate the confusion and stress of the early morning daycare drop-off and the looming insanity of I-90 west.
Mary had an advantage, however. Mom Tech: a host of hard and soft technologies that, in combination, are making moms lives easier. On this potentially problematic morning, before leaving for day care drop-off, she had already banged out a few email replies from her workstation at home. Using her iPhone while waiting for parking lot freedom, she answered a couple more. Mary has practiced for moments like this for years. Although the comforts of her 20th floor office certainly lend themselves to productivity, collaboration and tornado viewing, the team at GCAi learned to work remotely out of necessity.
Whether it be WeWork in NYC, Galvanize in Phoenix, MassChallenge in Boston, or their homes, GCAiers know how to work on the fly and have been equipped to do so with all the cool kids technologies like iMacs, iPhones, and MacBook Pros. Mary’s digital marketing work means she was already launching campaigns from online platforms like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. She had also led GCAi’s search for the perfect project management platform (that search continues), so she had helped move critical planning efforts to the cloud, making remote access a breeze. After Mary had her baby and was ready to log back into #GCAiPlanet, she was able to do so, from her home or even the parking lot.
“Every time I go into the office, it’s a one and half hour investment. So, I use my office time very strategically,” Mary reflected for this interview. “On the other hand, the two days I spend working remotely increase my productivity and definitely lessen stress. I have more flexibility and do not have to deal with the insanity of the Mass Pike. I also value the out-of-office time for projects that are gong to require more concentration, as I can better manage or even avoid interruptions.
Mary’s Hard Mom Tech recommendations
- You’re as good as your IT: We spend a lot of time and money at GCAi ensuring that we have the right equipment and platforms, the proper amount of redundancy, and that our software is up to date. Downtime in digital marketing is disastrous.
- Head in the cloud: We are working hard at getting everything in the cloud, which will support not only our work-on-the-fly tendencies, but also remote working and our West Coast office. We also expect significant productivity gains from universal access to up-to-date project plans. It’s a work in progress – but a worthy endeavor.
- Battery backups are tornado busters: If you want tech to help you out, you have to have power. When the tornado swept by our building and knocked out power, our battery backups kept us operational.
- Keep communications channels channeled: Right now we have a lot of (too many?) communication channels. We barely use our hardline phones anymore and have stopped answering our main phone line (we retrieve messages periodically). We have one line reserved for clients still. Cell has become the internal mode of communication. Email is way overburdened as a vendor management, client communication and internal project management channel. We hope to move the latter to something like Slack in the near future. Oh, and we are looking for the perfect conference calling service, BTW, so if you have recommendations, we would love them.
Mary’s Soft Mom Tech suggestions
- Car talk: Schedule calls for the drive home. With a West Coast office, this downtime on the afternoon drive home as proved to be very helpful to fit longer conversations into the work day.
- Yoga meetings: Sometimes we will grab a workout at work as a substitute for a lunch meeting. We get more out of yoga at 180 Fitness than we would at a carb-filled lunch. We even invite clients from time to time.
- Keep your schedule scheduled: Having fixed days in and out of your office helps everyone. Clients know that you are less available when you are working from home. Co-workers value the in-office collaboration more. Day care knows you are nearby, or you can have someone come into the home, which is a nice break for mom and baby.
- Sunday is Meal Day: Meal prepping on Sunday is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. It takes the pressure off you whether you are in the office or working from home, evaporating that temptation to slip away from the computer and slide into the kitchen in the latter case.