Tatiana McGrath – Remote-First Employee Spotlight
Today we bring you not just to the close-knit town of Waldwick, New Jersey, but into the recently converted home-office (formerly Monty the Cat’s domain) of our very own Tatiana McGrath. Tatiana has been part of our team, which currently sits at four marketing professionals, since December 2020 and has been responsible for all the marketing graphics seen across the We Are Working brand.
Yes, that is a whole lot of creativity, which you can see on full display on our website, emails, social media posts, and downloadable resources. Tatiana is focused on maintaining consistency across brand colors, fonts, images, and design elements (logos and icons) while keeping the look of the marketing materials fresh and focused on our customers, our remote staff, and our technology. Whew!
As part of our growing 100% remote workforce, Tatiana has recently had to adjust to the #WFH life, since she only got the opportunity to work remotely before this role on snow days. So she has a lot of great tips and insights on how to make the transition work for you. Pets definitely included!
Benefits of Remote Work
We all have different work-related preferences and working at home definitely has many benefits. For Tatiana, she always liked the idea of working from home. Part of this is because she feels she does her best work with fewer distractions (occasional kitty distractions are welcome), and working in a large office with an open-seating floorplan was a challenge. To add to that, she absolutely loves that she no longer has to waste time commuting to an office during rush-hour traffic, so she feels not having to drive to an office is a great benefit (and an amazing savings on gas!).
Finally, specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tatiana feels that joining the We Are Working team was a great opportunity to work safely and not have to worry about being exposed to or unknowingly spreading the virus.
Working remotely has helped Tatiana reclaim parts of her personal life as well. She says she is now able to take care of herself and her household more easily. Bonus: she’s not in a terrible mood after commuting home from work, and feels more productive when she can focus on tasks without the typical distractions of a communal office atmosphere. Plus, she says it’s been nice to be home to help make and enjoy dinner with her husband at a normal hour each night!
Tips for Working At Home
Tatiana’s perspective on remote work is that, for an individual who thrives working in a group setting or collaborating in person with their teammates, working remotely may take some getting used to. She knows her preferences on how she prefers to work, and says she works better when she can focus individually on tasks and then ask for collective feedback from her peers in the review phase. She feels this works just as well through a project management system, like Asana, while working at home.
For some tips on how to make working from home a home run, Tatiana suggests setting up a comfortable place where you can work without the distractions of your daily home life. She says “it is also important to ask questions if you need help understanding any new systems or processes put in place by your company- they’re there to help with efficiency, not hinder it. Remember to take breaks to walk and stretch throughout the day, and don’t forget to eat lunch!”
If you are having trouble adjusting, Tatiana just went through that shift as well. She suggests trying to identify what aspect of remote work you’re finding the most challenging, and see if you can adjust something to help make it better. Her personal example is that “if working in your open concept kitchen/living/dining room is too distracting (or annoying to convert from office space to dinner table each day), is there another space in your home that you can dedicate as your work area? I was able to convert a tiny empty bedroom that only my cat used (sorry, Monty!) into a small office for myself, but maybe you have a quiet corner of another room that can fit a small desk. Having a space to call your own while working from home makes a huge difference in feeling productive.”
So, Tatiana has identified that one factor to work-from-home success is having a project management system in place for organizing projects and tasks, and gathering feedback. She has used several project management tools throughout her career such as Trello, Wrike, and now Asana, and feels they’re all great. However, she says, “Asana is definitely the most fun. It never gets old to see a rainbow unicorn fly across your screen when you mark your task complete!” Tatiana also finds all of the Google Workspace apps to be great for collaboration, due to the ability to share and edit documents, spreadsheets, slides, folders, files, and more with the team. She also likes how easy the Google Suite has made it to find anything you need to get your work done.
Global-Thinking as a Remote Worker
As a global company with our team free to live and work where they choose, we like to share stories about what draws each person to their current town. For Tatiana, she enjoys that New Jersey has all four seasons, but could do with a little less snow in the winter. She loves to be able to look out her window while working and see plants budding and blooming. She also loves living close enough to NYC to visit when she wants to, and can’t wait for Broadway to reopen. She says, “my heart goes out to all the performers affected by this.”
Specific to living in Waldwick, she likes that it is a small suburb, which makes the sense of community stronger than any other town she has lived in. Here is a personal experience of the sense of community she has seen in Waldwick: “Over the winter, most homes in my neighborhood put out miniature American flags along our curbs to welcome home a soldier who was returning from Army Basic Training. His family left notes and a sample flag in everyone’s mailbox, and many families took part in the welcome. Some even made signs with his name. And currently, many houses in town have a blue light on their porch in support of a local child battling cancer. The lightbulbs were free to pick up, and it’s so inspiring to see so many homes lit up in blue as you drive around town in the evening. It’s a great feeling to see all the local support for our neighbors.”
Northern New Jersey is known for a lot of different cuisines, probably most famously bagels and Italian food. You can’t go wrong with a slice of pizza from nearly any local pizzeria. But Tatiana’s favorite food is a tie between Mexican and sushi. Luckily for her, she says there are a plethora of choices for either around. Oh, and, she says Ethiopian food has been the most unique food she has ever tried. The area has a great variety of local restaurants that specialize in food from all over the world. Which makes it easy to get almost anything you want to eat without having to travel the world.
But, what if she could have any dish delivered straight to her doorstep from any location on Earth? No problem – Tatiana knows the exact place she would call in that order: a plate of various Mexican specialties from the buffet at Xel-Ha Eco-Adventure Park in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Why that very specific order? She explains, “I love Mexican food and it’s often great at most restaurants, but I will never forget the fresh flavors and authentic dishes served at the eatery onsite at this natural waterpark. Maybe it was just my hunger after a few hours tubing and snorkeling in the lagoons, or the fact that the local women dressed in colorful skirts and embroidered floral blouses were so friendly as they served the items, but I remember that lunch being THE BEST food I’d eaten during my entire vacation to Riviera Maya”
Tatiana is settled into Waldwick, but what if she decided to become a digital nomad? She would hit the nearest airport to jet off to visit Bali or Thailand. She says, “I’ve heard so many stories of people working remotely from across the world- and it sounds like a dream! A tropical paradise with a slower pace of life seems like the perfect place to set up shop for a while, and maybe see an elephant or two along the way.” That sounds amazing! Hopefully, she’d save a spot for the rest of us, or at least send us some photos?
Celebrating Global Cultures
With so many countries and cultures around the world and part of our team, we ask each participant in this series what they value about the culture of their country. Here are Tatiana’s thoughts about the United States:
“Living in the USA, I love how much different culture and diversity you can find right in your own town. We have such a melting pot of ethnicities- it’s amazing to see how each culture has kept their traditions alive with cuisine and events that we can all experience, which helps us to learn about others and open up our horizons.”
We hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped broaden your outlook on what it means to have a remote global team. If you are considering the move to a remote-first workforce for your business, or have already made the switch but need help improving your processes, drop us a line. We would love to work through your unique scenario and see how we can help you get started with quality workers from our global team.