Working from Home with Laura Ott | Zebra Blog

Zebra Mom Gets Real About What It’s Like to #WorkFromHome in Email Signature

Laura Ott’s cheeky message elicits chuckles and cheers from working parents everywhere who are gaining a fast appreciation for what it really means to be distracted “in the office.”

A list of the Ott family`s daily schedule
by Your Edge Blog Team
April 06, 2020

Just a few weeks ago, many people who spend their days in a traditional office setting would have leapt at the opportunity to work from home. Now, most are begging to be “called into the office.”

As long-time teleworkers, the Your Edge blog team has struggled somewhat to relate to the memes circulating the internet. From our perspective, the perks of working from home are phenomenal:

  • No distractions from co-workers popping over shoulder-height cubicles, knocking on closed doors or chatting on the phone just an arms-length away in the truly open office environments.
  • A commute that shrinks from 30+ minutes to <30 feet means that one could “sleep in” if desired. (Rested workers = productive workers, right?)
  • The comfort of working in workout clothes – and the motivation to maybe sneak in a few squats or sprints between conference calls.
  • A stocked fridge and pantry for snacking…er, refueling.
  • Lots of natural light and nature! (Depending on where you live, of course.)
  • The flexibility to accommodate more appointments, lunches and coffees with clients and colleagues.

Then again, we weren’t thrust into this “working from home” gig in the midst of a global pandemic. And kids/spouses/partners/roommates were usually elsewhere during the day, leaving us with peace, quiet and sweet furry paws napping on our laps, save the occasional bark or purr at passers-by outside. Indeed, working from home has been a real boon for productivity for several years now! (We promise, there is truth in the above list.)

But if you’re one of the millions of working parents that was thrust into teleworking…and homeschooling kids…and tending to constant interruptions from spouses, partners and/or roommates…and feeding the dog…and doing it all on very little sleep, with very few groceries amidst relenting winter (or are they spring?) storms that have kept everyone cooped up inside, then you probably feel like you’ve been punked. All of those who make working from home sound glamorous clearly haven’t tried to do it in your household – or a full household, right?

Honesty is the Best Policy – and Makes for the Best Email Signature 

Given that this “temporary” teleworking situation could last for quite some time, many have taken to the internet to seek and share survival hacks. Zebra’s own Laura Ott is one of them.

As a human resources (HR) professional, Laura has become accustomed to guiding others through challenging situations. As a mom, she has learned what it takes to successfully mediate any situation. However, the truth of life is that there are some situations that aren’t going to be resolved by a conversation. Not a quiet one, at least.

So, her solution to get ahead of those situations was to give fair warning to colleagues and job candidates that things are exactly as they appear – or sound – when they talk with her on the phone. Her “co-workers” (kids, pets and, yes, even adults) are subject to throwing a tantrum at any minute, and she’s likely just going to talk a little louder over them.

Laura Ott`s email signature

Sensational, right?

We thought so, and the Chicago Tribune agreed. A reporter actually called Laura after learning of her LinkedIn post to see if she’d be willing to share her work-from-home experience and more of her family’s survival techniques.

Keeping it real, as usual, Laura admitted to working in the laundry room, a walk-in closet and even her daughter’s play pen to sustain some level of normalcy.

Yep, that sounds about right. Been there, done that. Though, our list would also include the garage and car. We’ve also found ourselves hunkering down in four different rooms on two different stories of the house during a single hour-long conference call (on multiple occasions) in an attempt to run from the noise of barking dogs, teleworking spouses and neighborhood landscapers who have industrial-grade mowers and blowers running on full power all around. (On the bright side, we got our steps in for the day.)

The Takeaway

We’re all in this grand teleworking experience together. There will be a learning curve for all involved, including the most tenured teleworkers. There will also be tears, from kids and adults alike, as well as extensive cries for help from colleagues who have to attend to a “crisis” – not the work kind, either. That’s okay. There’s a universal appreciation for what we are going through together…around the world.

As we secretly swap stories about our home “co-workers” and not-so-secretly swap tips for thriving in a confined home office setting, we’re learning the power of comical relief.

So, follow Laura’s lead: inject some humor and honesty wherever you can with your reality, perhaps even your email signature. Your customers, colleagues and partners will appreciate it more than you know.

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Your Edge Blog Team
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