Episode 013: How to Effectively Work From Home and Find Time for Fitness with Jolene Peixoto
If you’re a woman who works in the corporate world, and you work from home, this episode is for you!
In this episode I’m joined by my friend, Jolene Peixoto. Jolene is a 15-year veteran of the high-tech industry, working in business-to-business public relations and social media. Outside of her 'day job,' she is passionate for all things fitness, and spent five years also working as as a barre instructor in addition to her highly demanding corporate job.
As you’ll hear in this episode, Jo and I met through our personal blogs where learned we both love to workout, we both worked in the high tech industry, and we both work from home. You'll hear us chat about what it’s like to work from home - the pros and cons of it (and yes, there are cons to working from home), how we get past those challenges, the importance of setting boundaries and communicating effectively, and how to find the time to fit in fitness, and Jo even gives us some insight on what it was like to work as a barre instructor!
This was a really fun episode for me because it’s really just two women having a conversation about some things that we find challenging and sharing what worked for us to overcome them.
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Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Naomi: If you're a woman who works in the corporate world and you work from home, this episode is for you. This week I'm joined by my friend Jolene Peixoto. Jolene is a 15-year veteran in the high-tech industry working in business-to-business public relations and social media.
She's currently the Sr. Director of Corporate Communications at JDA Software. Outside of her day job she's passionate for all things fitness and spent five years working on the side as a Barre instructor, in addition to her highly demanding corporate job. She loves all things sweat, she loves wine and loves to travel. So even though she lives just north of Boston, she's really a West Coaster at heart, with the dream of one day moving to wine country in Healdsburg California. And that's not too far from where I am in Silicon Valley.
As you'll hear in this episode although Jo and I have been friends for quite a few years, we've yet to meet in person. We met through our personal blogs where we learn that we both love to work out. We both work in the high-tech industry and we both work from home. So in this episode we chat about what's it like to work from home. The pros and cons of it (and yes there are cons to working from home). We talk about what we did to get past those challenges to make it work for us, and the importance of setting boundaries and communicating effectively.
We talk about how we find time to fit in fitness and Jo even gives us some insight on what it was like to work as a Barre instructor. And if you've never heard of barre, she even explains what it is. This was a really fun episode for me because it's really just two girls having a conversation about some things that we find challenging and we share what we've done that's worked for us to overcome them. So let's get to the show.
Hi Jo. Welcome to the show.
Jolene: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Naomi: I am so excited to have you here. We’ve been internet friends for a while and I have really enjoyed your story and your journey over the past couple of years. And I thought you have such a strong message on many different things to share with my audience. So why don't we just jump in.
Jolene: Sure, sounds good. And I know, I can't we were never actually not met before, it sounds so crazy to me.
Naomi: So why don't you tell us who you are and what you do.
Jolene: Sure. Well we met through blogging. I used to blog for quite a few years, personally, and we kind of have similar career paths in tech and the B2B world. I work for a software company called JDA Software doing corporate communications, so PR and social media. In my free time I used to be, or just recently stopped teaching barer classes and I love that. But speaking the balance I used to teach quite a bit and trying to balance all of that was a bit much. So now I just take classes from the back of the class instead of being in front.
Naomi: I love that. So why don't you start with your job. So, I know that you work from home, and I feel that's it’s becoming a growing thing, at least in the tech world. So how do you structure your day working from home? What’s that like for you as opposed to actually going into an office.
Jolene: It’s funny. Yesterday I was talking about my week with my father-in-law. He said something like, “Oh but it's easy. You know you can do what you want. It's not as bad as going into an office.” And I took offense to that. I get very sensitive to it and I know he didn't mean anything by, it’s a generational thing, but I think that’s biggest misconception people have with the remote job – that it's easy. I do have a lot of benefits but it's definitely not easy and it's probably harder than a lot of office jobs when you come down to it. So with that said I do try to kind of structure my day as if I were in an office. I have an office an actual office in my home. I have a desk chair and actual chair, not a kitchen chair. I need the separate space because when I sit at my dining table, I want to see my dining room table, not my work.
I definitely get my workout in the morning because you never know what will happen later in the day. I like to put a little make up on, even if it's a little, do my hair, put something on some clothes, not necessarily anything fancy, but not pajamas. And I start my day just as if I were an office. I'd try to work 8-5 but with a global role I work with people who are in different time zones so I might have a late call or an early call but I try to balance it out during the day and take that into account each day. So, I try to work like I'm in an office. I am just not with other people.
Naomi: It sounds like you still keep very much to a structured day.
Jolene: I try to. I do work with a very dispersed marketing team. My prior job was remote too. It was almost harder there because most people were in the office whereas a lot of people that I work with now are all over the place. So, I think we all work harder to work together better because we're all in different areas.
But for me somehow just from my own sanity, I try to stick to a regular schedule of office hours instead of working for a few hours, then going do something, then work for a few hours. I'd probably work more but not necessarily in a productive way, whereas if I'm in work mode, I kind of try to stay in it which helps me.
I know for me, I actually find that I start my day earlier yet it's really hard to end the day at 5 o'clock as well. You just really have to keep those boundaries to really keep that balance with different time zones.
You know you're on the West Coast. I'm on the East Coast. And you have a few more hours left where I'm finishing up. But I might be waiting for something or somebody on the West Cost. So, I’ll step away at 5 pm and maybe I'll take a class or go for a run or do an errand and then come back finish up. I’ll get other e-mails and if it’s important I'll reply, if not, it can wait until the morning. I'll try to do that because if I'm responding at all hours that will be expected. Then you need to set that boundary unless it's going to impact a work flow where something needs to get done. But if I'm talking to somebody in Australia on a Thursday then I reply on Friday but it’s their Saturday. So it's not really helpful either.
Naomi: I think this I shared this before. I used to work with someone who had similar responsibilities to me and we worked in the same capacity but she was always a lot more frantic and overwhelmed. And she would always point that out to me and I said, “Well the difference is that you respond to everything at every hour of the day.” And I said, “I don't”. And just like what you said, I'm always in touch where I scan and read emails, but if it's something that is not urgent I’m not responding unless the next work day.
Jolene: Yeah totally. And I think there's also that mentality of the clock watchers who still reply to all no matter what, those people who do the “reply all” to an email at 9:30 at night and it's not important. It's like great. So, we know you are working late and my thinking is that showing that you're working late, I just don't buy into that kind of stuff.
Naomi: I laugh because this is we can all relate to that.
Jolene: Oh yeah you get that. I’m all, “Really? Really, are you kidding me?”
Naomi: So, you mentioned having other challenges working remotely so can you share some of your experiences with us?
Jolene: Being someone who was the only person working remotely some of the challenges. My last job, being one of few who did, you get forgotten easily on things. There might be a conversation my boss had with somebody in the hallway and then forgot to tell me about it. And I'm working away on a press release or project and then she comes in and says, “Oh about that...” So, if I'd known that you know a couple hours ago or a couple of days ago it really would have been helpful. Or team meetings they might have in an office where it's really hard to kind of feel like you’re part of that conversation when you're the only one on the phone and everyone else in the room so kind of trying to keep your voice heard can be harder.
And unless you're seen walking around an office you can get forgotten. If you’re doing rather well you tactfully have to make sure that you're kind of self-promoting that that you're doing these things and you're not just in the background and not really important.
Naomi: So how did you work through some of those things?
Jolene: My boss stepped back and let me communicate more directly with people and showing that the work was coming from me and not. My job now has a much bigger marketing team. There are probably 40 or 50 of us just in the United States, not including everyone globally. So, you can show how much your role is part of that bigger campaign or part of that bigger event that takes a ton of us all working together to put together and show your piece of that overall event was a huge piece and not just have it taken for granted. We had our team put together and showing that we are impacting different programs whatever it might be.
Naomi: So, what are your tips. What lessons have you learned for how to go about building those relationships especially when you are remote and what advice can you give to other people who maybe are struggling with the same things that you struggled with?
Jolene: I think in my role I'm lucky in that I work cross-functionally with so many people remotely. So, I think you know that helps me but I also think that being willing to help on and chipping in on other projects or or campaigns, or something that’s going on that maybe you don't have a role in but you could help to show you are a team player, that you are helping out and taking on things that might be out of scope for your job but that might actually help your career move forward. Things like that I’ve done, like an extracurricular. It puts you in front of people that you would normally not be in front of. And I think that really helps with career development and to expand your knowledge and what you're learning.
Naomi: I love what you just said and I think it also makes for a lot more meaningful work.
Naomi: When it comes to health we always look to our diet and exercise, whereas having meaningful work and those relationships in the workplace and communication is just a huge part of our wellness as diet and exercise. We spend so much time working that we have to have some type of fulfillment and joy and happiness in it, and it makes leaps and bounds to the way we feel.
Jolene: Yeah somebody just sent around an article to some of us or who are remote about how to foster those work relationships and friendship when you don't see each other very often and so we're all talking about different ways to do that.
Naomi: Yeah. Yeah.
Jolene: We use our internal social media tool where we're post, use our internal instant messaging tools to have a little conversation like hallway chatter normally with coworkers so you can talk about things that you like to do or find out what their hobbies are. If you're only on calls to talk about things that are on the agenda and you do is say hi.
Naomi: So true. And that's exactly the way I use our internal instant messaging too. It's funny because I only go into my office for all-hands meetings so once a quarter. The last time my manager, who also works for remotely, was in the office, she said, “Every time you come into the office it's like you know everyone, like you see them on a daily.” So I think those are such great tools to not just have conversations but those personal.
Jolene: I think it's funny you say that because it’s happened to me too. When I do go to an office or to an event, because of my role, I send out a lot of internal e-mails to our whole company like press releases, etc., so people are used to seeing my name but don't necessarily know who I am. But when they see my name and then when I meet them, it’s like, Oh, hi Jolene!” I get that all the time and it's funny and I’m like, “Oh ok. Hi!”
So, I think it’s a reflection too of how we’ve been online friends for a number of years but we haven't actually met in person. It’s like social media that's kind of flowing into the workplace.
Naomi: And I just love it because I think it makes things feel less formal and humanizes the work.
Jolene: Yeah. Actually it's funny.
Naomi: So, let's shift a little bit and we connected because we both have a passion for fitness. So, you have this demanding job where you're leading people and you're doing all these things and your work is very dynamic. How do you make fitness a priority? I know that for a lot of women, this is something they struggle with. So how do you make that a priority for yourself?
Jolene: I think for me, I know myself after working out for years and loving it that I do best starting my day with a workout. And even if I take a rest day every week and I try to do that on a Sunday, but if for some reason I'm not working out in the morning and I am taking a class at night I still try to start my day by taking a walk or even anything just to get moving because I feel like if I don't I feel lethargic and just start my day tired instead of feeling more energetic.
And then even during the day being on a lot of calls because we are remote, I made sure I requested a wireless headset so when I'm on call I literally walk around my house because I don't want to sit at my desk all day. And it’s amazing how much it helps just to stay focused to on that call because instead of starting multitask you're actually fully engaged on the phone call and not missing details either.
Naomi: I love that you brought up that point. A couple of years ago I had a director who also worked remotely and there was a bunch of us on this call and someone was going through this presentation that he clearly had worked very hard on and he kept referring to. But our director finally said, “Look, I’m walking around my office because I like to get movement in throughout the day so I'm not able to see what you're showing.” which made all of us often pause and we're like, “Hey we can do that too!”
Jolene: Yeah that's true. I had a friend too who she actually is in an office where she has one of those you put-under-your-desk petals for a bike. So you're just basically pedaling away all day. And she's like, “I bike a few miles a day.” I'm like, I kinda want that. I think there ways to have fun when you are on a call.
Naomi: I've never heard of that one. I've seen the walking treadmill desk.
Jolene: My friend kind of made her own. She put an ironing board over the railings. I think I would get a little motion sick from that walking and working. I've tried reading and walking before and it just doesn't work that way for me either.
Naomi: I always amazed that people who can type and walk at the same time.
Jolene: No, I get distracted.
Naomi: Exactly. So, you spent a good number of years as a fitness instructor, what led you down that path?
Jolene: I loved it. I mean I still do and I'm sure I'll miss it enough to come back to it at some point. I started taking barre classes six years ago and fell in love with it, I had really good results with weight and inches.
Naomi: So, for those who don’t know, what is barre?”
Jolene: Oh yeah. In this class, you utilize a ballet barre and do very small symmetric movements at the bar. And then you do a lot of mat work with body weight resistance in a really light way. But you do a ton of repetitions. Contrary to what people believe you don't need to be a dancer. I'm not. You don't need to be flexible. I'm not.
So, I started teaching about a year after taking classes and fell just in love with it. One reason was the feedback from clients, seeing them get results. I love not even knowing who you are inspiring day in and out just by what you're doing living your life. And people admire that and what you do to get ahead or to live a balanced, happy life. And I love that got a lot of classes especially at my old job because they were on the West Coast so I could kind of be a little more flexible with my schedule in the morning.
So, I taught the class at 6 AM and still got a workout in myself pretty much after. Whereas with my current job, it’s harder to do that. I felt like I was jamming a lot into the morning or either always teaching and then finding a way to work out. So, I was working or working out or teaching a class and I just was not productive. And this became a little bit stressful. So, I cut way back and then I just recently ended completely because I was teaching so little that I almost felt like I couldn't give enough. And I didn't think it was a benefit on either side to be teaching anymore if I couldn't teach more to what I wanted in capacity. So, I took a step back and now I'm taking classes. I'm experimenting with other workouts too and you know I love running and spinning. Another great workout I love to do that kind of break up the running and having fun with it.
Naomi: I will have to say, I’ve taken barre classes on and off over the years and it is one of those workouts that is so deceiving.
Jolene: Yes, it is so much fun and you say, “Oh my gosh it’s like two or three-pound weight or nothing.”. And then the next day you're like, “Oh my goodness what is going on with your body?!” What did I do? I know, I took a barre class.
Naomi: In terms of balance I think it is an awesome balance exercise to spinning and running. I think it's wonderful. I learned so much just from your own post as well.
Jolene: Speaking of wellness and fitness clearly a benefit to being home to that I get to make my own food during the day and not have to plan ahead or make a lot of it. I hate packing a lunch just to bring the work. Like who wants to make their lunch the day before or whenever I like. Then I wouldn't like what made. Now I can just take my time. I don’t have to feel like a raccoon, foraging for food at work when you're hungry and didn't bring enough food or something.
Naomi: Yes, I agree with you and it's like you read my mind because I was just going to ask you about something that I see on your social media a lot - what are salad wars?
Jolene: It's funny. A few friends of mine from the studio, other clients or instructors, one day one of us made - I think I might have made a salad or Jess (my sister) just made one and it was really good. And then I posted a photo of my salad and I said, “My salad kicks your salad’s butt”. So, it kind of built from there and then there was a whole bunch of friends either like from around here or just on Instagram who are friends, you know bloggers or otherwise, started using it too. It's just funny. I click on the hashtags sometimes and I see other people that I don't even know who use it now.
Naomi: I love it and I have to tell you it’s given me so many great ideas for my own meals.
Jolene: Yeah. I even have a Pinterest board for more ideas.
Naomi: I'm going to link to your Instagram and Pinterest board for it.
Well I am so thankful that you joined us today. It’s a joy talking to you.
I think I think the conversation we had with just seeing it was to the importance of building relationships and communicating and going beyond the workplace to make those things happen and I think that's something that so many more people need to hear.
I’m doing a project called, “The 100 Conversations Project” where I’m having 100 Conversations with different women talking about how stress manifests in their life. And so far every single one of the over 30 conversations I’ve had have all come back to work.
And when I was thinking about different guests that I wanted to have on this show you and your sister are one of the first that came to mind because you do a great job as a woman in the corporate world making their health a priority.
So, I’m glad you were able to be here with us today.
Jolene: Me too. Thank you.
Naomi: And how can people connect with you?
Jolene: I'm on Twitter at @Jolene1079.
Naomi: Great - thank you so much for being here. And we will speak with you again hopefully soon.
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.