For the Summer 2019 issue of Colorado Meetings + Events, we toured the home offices of four meeting and event professions in the Denver area and shared their tips about working from home, hilarious tales and more. Two industry veterans, Tracey Rath and Gary Schirmacher also provided wise commentary on the topic.
Here is a continuation of the conversation with Tracey and Gary, who are well-known figures in Colorado’s meetings and events industry. Both have spent their time in corporate offices working for larger companies and now enjoy the flexibility and productivity of being based in Littleton and Erie, Colorado when not on the road for their professions.
Tracey Rath, Global Account Executive, ConferenceDirect
How long: 9 years with ConferenceDirect, 3 years with Marriott International
Office mate: Douglas, her husband who has his own home office, and Roxie, a standard schnauzer
- No time committed to commuting to the office.
- Dramatically less mileage on your personal vehicle and lower typical daily expenses like lunch out, fuel, parking and tolls.
- Healthier lifestyle with a more controlled diet, eating evening meals at home and time for daily exercise.
- The kitchen with snacks is close by.
- Maintaining control of work hours is hard; the office does not close on weekends or nights and the emails and instant messaging never stop.
- Making time to leave the office during the day for a personal appointment.
- Invest in the best laptop, monitors, cell phone, tablet and headset that you can afford.
- Pay attention to ergonomics. Get a quality chair, desk and file cabinets and set monitors for reduced strain.
- Invest in good lighting.
- Keep regular hours, get in the office the same time each day and put in the time.
- Sharpen Outlook email, calendar and task pad skills to help maintain a work/life balance.
Funny story: “My husband and I both work from home offices, so we find ourselves calling each other or Skype instant messaging to coordinate lunch together or whose turn it is to walk the dog.”
My office: “I am equipped with a Varidesk, dual large-screen monitors and a state-of-the-art HP laptop. My monitors are mounted on a dual monitor arm that allows unlimited adjustment to the monitor position while moving to a standing or seated position with the Varidesk.”
Client meetings: “I’ve had bill reviews and client lunches in my office using the dining/boardroom table located in my home.”
Gary Schirmacher, CMP, Senior Vice President, Industry Presence and Strategic Development, Experient
How long: 23 years
Challenges and opportunities: “Challenges include finding ways to be around other people, taking actual breaks for lunch versus eating at your desk and not working too many hours, especially at night and on the weekends. Creating boundaries and work/life balance are a challenge, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.”
- Make sure the office space will be private and quiet, with little room for distractions, by having a door or some sort of barrier.
- Think about an office in a building and set yours up in a similar fashion with a desk, file storage, speedy internet and the ability to print/scan.
- For expenses not reimbursed (e.g., phone, internet, supplies and equipment), deduct them on your taxes.
- Make sure to get out every day, whether it’s walking, running or having lunch at the park or somewhere besides your office. Create a walking group to have fun, get a people fix and do something kind for your body.
Funny story: “Once I was on a Skype call with about 10 people and a woman was in front of her laptop with the camera on in a towel and brushing her teeth. She was on mute but didn’t realize the camera was on.”
My office: “A friend of mine is a master carpenter, and he built my desk and shelving and attached it all.” He adds, “I have a business landline phone with a headset, a comfortable chair that has rollers and a mounted TV behind my desk where I can have news or sports in the background while I work.”
Client meetings: “I prefer to go to a restaurant or to their office.”