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Work From Home Wisely

July 25, 2022
Take some tips from a veteran of doing a job remotely

This month marks 19 years I’ve been working from home! Back in 2003, such an arrangement was rare in publishing as well as elsewhere. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any editor in chief back then who didn’t routinely work from the head office.

However, Chemical Processing then was based in suburban Chicago (and still is), while I had roots and a house in New York City. The company that published this magazine, Putman Media, was a small family-run outfit that wasn’t mired in detailed procedures. Indeed, management prided itself on its lack of rigid policies and ability to be flexible. So, we struck a deal. I would work from home in New York City but regularly visit headquarters. Initially, that meant spending a week each month in Illinois but my trips to headquarters became far less frequent within a few years.

Working from home was much more of a challenge back then. Most input — manuscripts, press releases, photographs, etc. — came on paper via the mail. So, forwarding materials to the editors and production staff at headquarters wasn’t a fast or easy process. The Internet wasn’t that much help. Perhaps you remember dial-up access and the slow speeds available in 2003! Teleconferences still were relatively rare and videoconferences largely were the stuff of science fiction.

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Besides the functional difficulties, my remoteness led some more-suspicious people to check if I was working when I should be. I received more than one telephone call late on a Friday afternoon, supposedly to inquire about something but actually to see if I was there.

Fortunately, working remotely today no longer poses most of these challenges. As our cover story “Remote Working Takes Hold,” points out, employee preference and the productivity shown by those working from home during the pandemic have spurred some chemical companies to actively encourage remote work.

So, for those of you relatively new to or now contemplating working from home, let me share a few tips. Some of these may seem obvious but they are important.

If you have space, set up a dedicated office or area in which to always work. Ideally, locate it where you can minimize distractions and interruptions from family and pets. Likewise, avoid having a radio or television close by (and refrain from using your computer as a continuous source of background music or news feeds).

Cultivate a set routine. Start work and end work at relatively consistent times. It takes discipline to quit when there are one or two more things you could do fairly quickly. Be warned, after you’ve done them, you very well might think of a couple more. Likewise, take lunch at about the same time each day, and eat it away from your work area.

Make sure to back up your work to the extent that you can. I have two external drives — a large conventional one for automatic full backups, and a smaller solid-state drive to which I manually back up working files and save updates to other ones I regularly use. For more pointers about backups, see: “Back Up Your Remote Work."

MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at [email protected]
About the Author

Mark Rosenzweig | Former Editor-in-Chief

Mark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's former editor-in-chief. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' magazine Chemical Engineering Progress. Before that, he held a variety of roles, including European editor and managing editor, at Chemical Engineering. He has received a prestigious Neal award from American Business Media. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union. His collection of typewriters now exceeds 100, and he has driven a 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk for more than 40 years.

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