By Jamie Thomsen R. EEG T., CNIM, CLTM
Over my career as a neurodiagnostic technologist, like many, I had thought about the idea of working remotely. I had my concerns because most people would refer to me as an extrovert. Back in Summer 2019 prior to the pandemic I had an injury and was not allowed to go back to work until I could continue my full duties. During that time I was beyond stir crazy and struggled with the limited interactions I was getting. I have spent many years on overnight weekends and although I worked in 2 person teams in a level 4 EMU I still felt very connected with all the staff outside of that room.
Summer 2022 I made the big decision and joined a company I felt really met my goals, ambitions, standard of care for both patients and staff. I joined Integris Neuro at a time that they were expanding to Continuous Monitoring EEG Department. That first weekend I was the only night shift monitoring tech, as more were set to be starting in the days to weeks to follow. That first weekend I had multiple members of leadership reach out for support. It was a feeling I was not used to working a shift opposite when most people in leadership roles work. That first weekend I learned working remotely does not mean working alone. It takes skills to do things independently and use the resources given.
We have continued to grow our staff and it is amazing the connections you feel with people spread all over the country. When there was a hurricane multiple staff stepped up to be available to cover for our friends and colleagues that live in Florida. We interact with our fellow staff throughout our shifts. You always have another person happy to take a second look at an EEG. We rejoice at the celebrations like earning a new credential, getting married, bringing home a new pet, and more.
I spent many years thinking working remotely full time was not for me due to the isolation but what I got was an expansion of friends and colleagues near and far. I can not speak for everyone else but I'm so happy to be in a position I can help patients all over the country. I know that as time has continued I still have amazing leadership available when needed. I have since joined that team and am happy to say I am here to help others as well. I work remotely but you can not say I work alone.
Tips for working remotely
Have a designated working area. I believe having a separate work area helps me get in the mindset that I am at work.
Know the expectations. Be ready and know what is expected of you. Take the time to be prepared for your shift and if you have questions get them answered early.
Decrease distractions. This could be as simple as closing an office door or making sure your family knows to only disturb when it is necessary. Treat it as if they would be calling you at an on-site workplace. I find using headphones as a great help.
Stay connected with coworkers. Staying connected does not mean you have to be in constant communication, but it does mean be available. One of the hardest challenges working remotely is feeling like you are limited to only your own knowledge. Don't be afraid to reach out and help each other.
Get dressed for your shift. I won't wear the same thing I would to an office or hospital but I feel getting out of my pajamas makes me feel more prepared to work. I still always dress for comfort.
Take small breaks and often. I find that it is helpful to make sure I take multiple small breaks. Sometimes my breaks may be as simple as standing and stretching while still watching my computer screens. Other times when I know I'm in a good place I will take a break, maybe sit outside for a few minutes while the dogs take care of their business.
If allowed take full breaks. If you are allowed and given coverage to take a full break you should. I know on night shift I have met plenty of people that don't take breaks because they feel sleepy if they stop going. I have found if I am given a break I will go hangout with my pets and watch a single episode of a show and eat a meal. This complete separation from work helps to rejuvenate me for the remainder of my shift. If I were working during the day and the weather is nice I would likely go for a walk.
Make sure you are comfortable. Having a comfortable setup is both important for your mindset and your body. If you know you are going to spend the better part of twelve hours sitting it is worth having a good chair with support. We only have one spine and we should try to protect it.
If you are starting your adventure in working remotely I hope these tips help you. Working remotely is not for every person. All companies are different and I hope you find what is best for you.