How to Make Remote Work Fun with Maryellen Stockton

Maryellen Stockton is the founder and CEO of Work Well Wherever. She is a wife, mother, career coach, and remote management consultant with 15 years of experience working with individuals and organizations.

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Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of The Distant Job Podcast. I am your host Luis, and I’m here on this podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams.

Luis:

My guest today is Maryellen Stockton, founder and CEO of Work Well Wherever. She is a wife, mother, career coach, and remote management consultant with 15 years of experience working with individuals and organizations. Maryellen, welcome to the show.

Maryellen Stockton:

Thanks Luis, for having me.

Luis:

It’s my absolute pleasure. You know, I just introduced you, but please tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself, and what you do, and what you’re doing currently.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. I started working for a virtual staffing firm, I guess eight years ago. We worked remotely, so our whole team was remote, and our clients were remote. I became fascinated with how you can still have a company culture and be connected, even though you don’t see people that often.

Maryellen Stockton:

In 2019, I guess, I launched my company called Work Well Wherever. The focus is to help small businesses and startups work well remotely. We do a lot of focus on company culture, people, the operations like how do you manage your team remotely, all that kind of stuff. It ends up being a combination of leadership coaching and development because it’s small businesses and startups, I work mainly with the owners and founders of companies.

Luis:

Got it. Tell me a bit about eight years ago, you joined that company. Tell me about something that defied your expectations. What were you expecting from remote work that ended up not being true? And, what was something that you weren’t expecting at all that surprised you?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. I think one of the things is I’m a very social person, so I love being around people. My biggest fear was I’m going to feel disconnected, I’m not going to feel part of a team. In fact, what surprised was that I did feel connected, so it made me intrigued. Okay, this is the way that things are going to have to go.

Maryellen Stockton:

The other thing, I think, is that maybe another misconception I think is that people will not work. You’ve probably heard this, too. That people are not going to be productive, they’ll be distracted and whatever.

Luis:

I myself spend my time away playing video games, while my boss thinks I’m working. That’s the deal.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. But in fact, the thing was it became harder to, which is what people are experiencing now in COVID, it’s harder to turn it off. It is really hard to turn it off. That was the hurdle that I had to get over, and it was unexpected. Thinking oh okay, because work is home, so that was a different thing.

Luis:

Yeah. What do you do about that, actually? That’s something that still happens to me, every once in a while, is that I know I’ve been productive, I know I’ve done the work that I needed to do. Because sometimes I work in the evening, sometimes I start working earlier in the mornings, so it’s still work time for other people and I have, actually, time to relax so I can go and watch a movie or play a video game. And I feel guilty about it, because it’s still work time for other people.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

Have you encountered this? How do you find a psychological way around this, I guess?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. It has been totally different, during COVID, having children home, your spouse home, not being able to get out of the house and have video calls. A couple of days a week, I belong to a women’s only co-working space, I would go there, I would go to a coffee shop, just be around people to work. That’s been really difficult, or different for me.

Maryellen Stockton:

One of the things that I do, and I’ve heard of a lot of people do, is I get dressed for the day. I get ready for the day. There’s a symbol, my start to my day is always drinking coffee, and I catch up on the news. And then, I come down to my office. So having a place to work, and having a morning ritual, getting ready. And then, when you shut it down, truly shutting it down.

Maryellen Stockton:

It does help to have my family and my kids around, because they keep you honest. There’s no more getting back on after they’re gone to bed, it’s time for family time.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, I guess that’s definitely a key aspect of it. Getting the family involved, because the family, unless you push back on them which you shouldn’t, the family will be a good barometer of when it is time to turn away from the work.

Luis:

Talk to me about that. In your company, you have a page about your values, as many companies do. But, I’m wondering about a specific value, because it’s a value that I haven’t encountered a lot which is “encourage fun.” Can you tell me a bit about how you came to this particular value? And, how it relates to remote work specifically?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. I think one of the things is I think that’s one of my strengths, Luis, is that I’m fun. One of the things, when I was exploring values, was asking other people how they would describe me, and that was one of the things that came up. But also, as it relates to remote work as I think that we forget that we’re so involved in the technology, and the meetings, and the catch ups, and accountability, and all these things, that we really forget to stop and be playful.

Maryellen Stockton:

A lot of times, we might just jump into a meeting without any hellos, and every meeting is a work meeting. As opposed to adding a little fun to it, because why wouldn’t we? There’s no thing that says we can’t have fun at work. I think remotely, it’s even more important because there’s such isolation, and you aren’t running into people in the halls, there’s not this water cooler chat. So really, bringing an element of fun to your days and your weeks, and especially when you’re working with your teams and clients.

Luis:

Got it. The fun topic is very interesting to me, because I actually have a bit of a side quest. After my whole remote shtick, I have a bit of a side quest about how to make work more fun. I’ve told this story on the podcast many times, so I won’t bore the regular listeners with it.

Luis:

But long story short, back in the days, I was part of a pretty hardcore World of Warcraft guild. Online gaming sometimes blurs, borders the lines between work and play, because it gets so intensive, and so competitive, and even grinding. That’s actually a word that players use to describe the more negative aspects of the games, it’s a grind. And yet, I saw people put in 20 hours a week into it, just to get that sense of achievement with their guild mates.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

They put in an amount of effort that I rarely see people putting into their actual job, so it’s something that’s puzzled me over the years. How do I make work be a little bit more like World of Warcraft or another MMO? What’s are the commonalities there, that can be overlapped?

Luis:

I guess I’m bringing the question to you. What are some tools, tips, techniques, strategies that you use to make work more fun?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. I think that one of the things is thinking about what kind of rituals and things did you do when you were in an office. Or, what do people do when they’re in an office? If there were fun perks and different things, how can you bring that to a remote environment?

Maryellen Stockton:

When people think of Christmas parties, we’re not having Christmas parties in person so get creative. Now, there’s all these companies online that are doing murder mystery, and karaoke, and talent shows, and all those kind of things. But, it doesn’t always have to be this big, planned thing. It could be starting off your meeting with a funny question.

Maryellen Stockton:

It really starts with the leader, or the person facilitating the meeting in a company, it starts from the leadership down. By have a core value of fun, that is something that I try to incorporate into my every day, because that’s what values are for.

Maryellen Stockton:

Did that answer your question?

Luis:

Yeah, a little bit. A little bit. I just wonder, because this is a stumper. I still break my head against the wall on this, so I don’t expect you to give me all the answers. But, I’m just thinking that there are a lot of activities that we do to make work fun, that are let’s say peripheral to work. You can have virtual Christmas parties, but you wouldn’t call that work.

Luis:

I’m actually thinking more along the lines of how to make work fun. The work itself, the interactions, the communication, the things like that. Of course, I understand that that depends on the kind of work that you’re doing. But, there seems to be an opportunity here, now that the whole world is going remote, more and more people are ditching the office, the physical, grounded office for a virtual office. How do we make those interactions more engaging, I guess?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Well, you’ve heard this phenomenon of Zoom fatigue, or you’ve heard people say there’s Zoom fatigue. I do think that that’s true, I think that people are exhausted. And it’s because people want to see what people are doing, they think that that means more video meetings. Which again, why does every meeting have to be about work? Why couldn’t we just have different opportunities just for fun, like water cooler chat? So you see a lot of async things where people use Slack or another chat channel, and they’ve created their own emojis for certain values that can be fun.

Maryellen Stockton:

I think when I engage with clients, one of the things is to not just dive into the work. To really have the casual conversation before, because that’s what building relationships is about. I think that one of the big things about remote work to me that is fun, is the fact that I get to talk to you and connect with other people from all over the world. So, what is not fun about that? I love what I do, I love what I do, so I guess it’s easier for it to be fun, because I truly enjoy it.

Maryellen Stockton:

I don’t know. The day-to-day can just be a grind, so I think it is about taking those breaks to do stuff that aren’t just work.

Luis:

Yeah, that seems to make complete sense. But, you mentioned Zoom fatigue. Again, that’s something that I think a lot of people are encountering now. I’m familiar with it, because like you, I was doing this way, way before COVID, for a long time. I find that it especially happens when there are more than two people in a call. When it’s just the two of us like this, it seems to me that it doesn’t fatigue me so much, almost nothing at all, because I’m just having a conversation with another person.

Luis:

But, when there’s the boardroom, the conference room affect, where there’s supposed to be four or five at the table, and they’re actually all on my screen. Because when I’m at the table with someone, it’s not like I’m looking at everyone at the same time. I’m still looking at one person at once. But, it just feels like it’s more and more overwhelming.

Luis:

What do you think, what are the strategies that you found to help people with this situation? Especially now, where it seems that it’s a second … not to overuse the term, but it’s kind of a second epidemic, right?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah, it is.

Luis:

The pandemic that’s caused the epidemic of Zoom fatigue.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah, it is. One of the things that I tell people, and I had to do it myself, too, because there were so many more people that were defaulting to Zoom meetings … So the first thing is, do you really need a meeting? If so, does it have to be a Zoom meeting?

Maryellen Stockton:

For the individual, it is scheduling your day, so blocking time out where it’s just heads down time to get work done. If you are leading a team and you want to have these calls, nobody is productive with back-to-back calls, and nobody is productive with these extremely long meetings without any breaks. If you’ve got several topics, can you maybe break it up to two 90-minute sessions over two different days?

Luis:

Yeah.

Maryellen Stockton:

And, the biggest thing first is trust your team, trust your team. Because I think some of the reason that there is this Zoom every meeting, or morning check ins or evening check ins via video, and everybody has to do that, is that you’re not sure if your team is getting the work done. Trust your team. Figure out a way to build that, if you haven’t already, and if you don’t for some reason. And then, really thinking about do we need this meeting and is there another way that we can communicate? Could this be solved through a chat, or an email? And defining that, for your team.

Luis:

Yeah. I think that it’s more challenging … I personally trust my team completely, we basically have one call a week. And then, we have time blocked for optional calls, we call it the coffee break. At that time, whoever wants to join can join, and we’ll just have a coffee together and share some stories.

Luis:

But, what I found that it’s really hard to avoid doing by video is brainstorming. I don’t know if you felt the same?

Maryellen Stockton:

I’m glad that you asked that, because I just had the most fun brainstorming session.

Luis:

Really?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah, there’s several things. I’ve seen people use Miro boards. But, one of the things is getting over the hurdle of people being familiar with the software. So you have to tell them, “Before this call, we’re going to use Miro,” play around with it, show them some videos. But, a lot of people have successfully used that. It’s just like sticky notes, where you can move them around.

Maryellen Stockton:

I’ve done a design sprint with people who were trying to think of different ideas, and the questions are already laid out in Miro. Everybody gets their own sticky note, as you would in person, and gets to label it. You get five minutes to think about the question, and go from there. I did one with a client who, his company is a consulting company but they needed a remote work expert to come in, so we were brainstorming different ideas. It was whole new, different group of people and we were brainstorming different ideas about the remote work experience, what services could come off on the employee side and employer side. It was very interactive. The questions were already played out, we’d have five minutes. And then, we’d come back and tell what we came up with.

Maryellen Stockton:

It was super fun, and an hour and a half flew by.

Luis:

Wow. It sounds like you were having fun. I have to look into that, it seems like a nice way to conduct a brainstorming session.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

Your session about the consulting company needed a remote work expert to come in, I guess that situation happens a lot these days because everyone was shoved into remote. In fact, we were talking before the show about our respective companies’ approaches to the pandemic, and one thing that was mandated in my country, Portugal, was that people who could work remotely must work remotely. There was no ifs and buts, if your work could be done from a secure laptop from your home, then you needed to do it. You were not allowed to be in the office, right?

Maryellen Stockton:

Right.

Luis:

To me, that’s a no-brainer but I could understand how that could wreak havoc in a company that simply had never tried. It’s not that they would be anti remote working, but it would simply be something that they weren’t ready to do it, that they weren’t ready to feel the impact in their processes.

Maryellen Stockton:

Absolutely, yeah.

Luis:

Over the past year, you’ve probably seen a lot of situations likes these. Where do you find people and companies who struggle the most?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Where they struggle the most is this people culture element, always, whether it’s managing and leading people, whether it’s hiring the right people, whether it’s keeping the team connected. Because what happened when the world turned suddenly remote, some people already the technologies in place. If they didn’t have the technology, they had part of it. Your email’s already online, and then there usually, based on what email you use, there’s some kind of document collaboration thing.

Maryellen Stockton:

So the technology part they get set up, and then some of the processes are there. But, they find themselves either, “Oh, we didn’t have a process for this,” or, “Now we’ve got to get that together,” especially when you start looking to hire people. A lot of people just said, “I can’t hire because I am not set up to work remotely, and I’ve got to do training in person.” My suggestion would always be, “Let’s work on what that looks like remotely, because remote can always be an advantage.”

Maryellen Stockton:

But, the biggest thing that gets left off and it’s the hardest is exactly all the things that we’ve been talking about. The collaboration, communication, leading people well, all that kind of stuff. I really work with teams to think about how do you communicate with your team, and how do you prefer to be communicated with, so we work through those kind of things. And then, if you do have perks and benefits, some of the things I’ve seen with companies is all their perks and benefits were tied up into being in the office. Having lunch delivered, or if they got to travel, they could have lunch per diems, and they had all these things.

Maryellen Stockton:

Okay, well let’s flip the perks on their head, and find out how do we move those perks virtual. Or, are there things that we can add? It’s really just thinking about things in a different way.

Luis:

It does feel like the previous perks were just ways to mitigate the awfulness of the office, perks. It was, “Let’s make your bad experience slightly more bearable.”

Maryellen Stockton:

Right, right. There was a big onboarding group, especially in these big companies, so there was a lot of camaraderie, and maybe happy hours and different things. So people, instead of changing that up, had just sat with it. In that case, you usually see people leave.

Luis:

Yeah, that’s true. I just think that remote work ends up being the actual best perk. I personally think that it shouldn’t be considered a perk, that it should be considered the optimal way to work. But at the same time, it’s the ultimate perk because it just doesn’t get any better. Being able to do your job from the place, the environment that you find the best suitable.

Maryellen Stockton:

Right, yeah. I think for us, but even for me during this time, there have been … I make sure to tell everyone, “This is not typical remote work.” Those of us who’ve been doing this, there’s not all these distractions at home, and there’s not a pandemic which is just distracting.

Luis:

That’s the most distracting, I would say.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes.

Luis:

Likely stressful, too.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes. What I was thinking about, or what I’ve talked to people about is, when you think about leading your team or leading a group of people, is that you have to set the expectations. For people that work from home, they’ve got to have guidelines, expectations, know what’s expected of them, know the due dates, you drive that. But, you also have to be flexible during this time of a pandemic. So you really have to know your team, know what their schedules are, all those things.

Maryellen Stockton:

But, the first thing is setting expectations to lead them well, and really building that trust and relationship so that it’s not a tough conversation to have with somebody if work isn’t going as well as it did. Because a lot of people will say, “Oh that’s because we’re remote,” and they’re just not doing anything. Well, have you talked to them? Have you set up the expectations? Have you thought about what the other things are going on? Usually, there’s something missing. Maybe it’s that they’re unhappy or whatever, but really being able to set those expectations up front and communicating with your team. It’s not a time to communicate less, I guess.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. The setting the expectations part I find is key, because a lot of the time when two people can have an honest conversation about what was the trouble with performance, I find that surprisingly amount of the times, the under performer’s thing is, “Oh, I didn’t know I was expected to do that that way.” There’s definitely a loss in internet packets, if there’s a packet loss you get slow internet.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes.

Luis:

Without being present, there’s definitely a loss in communication packets. I think that the ultimate remote work skill, in other words, is really being really good at communication.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes. For the leader of the team as well, or owner of the company, making sure it is clear what is expected of your team. And, being able to set dates and do those things. But then, also, sure communicating it. If you’re only talking to the people that are directly reporting to you once a month, that’s too little in my opinion.

Luis:

Yeah, I agree. I agree. Ideally, you should be able to actually get in touch every day, if you have a small enough team. But, without making them feel suffocated or you’re looking over their shoulder constantly.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

Just, “Hello, how are things? Just checking in for today, knowing how everything’s doing. Can I help you with anything, is there something you need help with?” After that conversation, you can just give them seven hours of uninterrupted productivity.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Another thing that I wanted to mentioned, Luis, that’s really important with hiring. When people are hiring, I tell them as much as you can put in the job posting and job ad about what it means to work with your company. So that means how you work, what do you value, what your hours are, because the last thing you want is someone who expected to be able to work all times of hours, because there are companies that allow that. But, there are a lot of companies who don’t, they have specific hours and specific timezones.

Maryellen Stockton:

So as much as we, as companies who are hiring and onboarding new people, and interviewing people, is to be really clear about what this role looks like when you are hiring.

Luis:

Of course. Overall, it’s definitely the case that overlap is proven to help. It’s really hard to have a cohesive remote team if everyone is siloed in their own work hours.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

It doesn’t mean that everyone has to work the exact same hours, but it’s definitely important that there’s some overlap so that in the middle, the whole team can get in touch and be together, if need be.

Luis:

Good thing that you brought up hiring, because I wanted to look at hiring with you from a different angle. Now obviously, when you’re looking to hire something, you need to look at their technical skills, the skillset that they need to do a good job in their role. But beyond that, what do you think are the additional skills that makes people successful, specifically at working remotely, if any?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. I would be curious to hear what you say, after I tell you what I think some of mine are.

Maryellen Stockton:

But, one of them is just a natural problem solver, because in remote work you can’t just go to someone’s office, you can’t do that. So being able to try something on your own first, which also goes in line being able to ask for help when you don’t know. But, being proactive to see if you can figure out whatever this thing is that you’re not quite sure what to do before asking someone, so a natural problem solver. That you’re self-motivated. I always say a good worker is just a good worker, no matter where they are. So when you think about interviewing for remote workers, maybe ask if they had a problem and how they solved it is a good question to ask.

Maryellen Stockton:

Oh, communication of course. Communication is huge in all realms. So being able to say, “I don’t understand,” and being able to communicate if something is taking you longer, all those things I think are key in working remotely.

Maryellen Stockton:

What about you, what do you think?

Luis:

Well, I specifically look for great writers. This is because, as much as it’s nice to be on a call such as the one we are on now, most of our work is going to be done in writing because I can’t possibly have a one hour call with everyone on my team, every day. Then, I would get nothing done and I would want to kill me at the end of each day as well. Kill myself. That wouldn’t be good, that wouldn’t be good.

Luis:

Definitely, I look for people who write very well. The reply that you send to my job description, your cover letter so to say, is more important to me than the actual interview you’re going to have with me after, because I really care about the way you use your words, how you describe things. I like people who describe things in detail, non-ambiguous ways, because that’s going to pay dividends, across all tiers of communication. Because there’s the email tier of communication, that I’m not a fan of because I think that it’s really easy to lose track of emails, but there it is. Then, there’s the document tier of communication, where it’s not often that someone uses a document to communicate with me, but when it does it’s usually a pretty important thing that’s going to be set in stone. But, then there are the intermediate levels of communication, the day-to-day communication in a chat service such as Slack, and the communication in a project management system such as Trello or Basecamp.

Luis:

Across all of these verticals, the person needs to be a good communicator, and it’s different. Being a good communicator in Basecamp, where it’s basically an aggregate of task lists, or Trello, is different from being a good communicator on Slack, where it’s important that you know how to convey how you’re feeling, your emotions, et cetera.

Maryellen Stockton:

How do you test for that, in an interview, with all those different means of communication?

Luis:

Yeah. Being a good writer covers all of those. If you’re a really good writer, you’re going to be good at crafting documents, at sending emails, but also at task lists, creating well defined task lists, bullet point lists, et cetera. And also, at chat. That’s one of my main things.

Maryellen Stockton:

I also think, too, and you said it, too, with communication is being able to manage a project, being able to … Project management has been big, because the expectation is usually there’s some routine stuff with our day, but there’s usually projects involved.

Luis:

Yeah. The way I usually look at that is I try to see what the person has done, by themselves, in their free time. I don’t particularly care if they did a project for school, or at their previous work or something like that, because you have to. But, I want to see what they did for themselves. With no one paying, with no one busting their chops, with nobody looking over their shoulder, with no one rating them, just how far did you go with something that you loved. That usually ticks all the boxes for me.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Yeah. I think eagerness to learn definitely doesn’t hurt.

Luis:

Oh yeah.

Maryellen Stockton:

We were talking about all this technology, but things change and new ones come up, it’s constantly … I think an eagerness to learn also drives that.

Luis:

Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great point.

Luis:

I want to be respectful of your time, and it’s getting late. Well, maybe not in Atlanta but here.

Maryellen Stockton:

It’s almost lunch for me.

Luis:

Yeah, okay. I don’t want you to get for lunch, so I was thinking that you could move to some rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid fire, but the answers don’t need to be, so please expand as much as you’d like.

Maryellen Stockton:

Okay.

Luis:

If you had $100, $100 US dollars to spend with each person working with you, what would you give them? You can’t ask them what they want, you can’t personalize it, and you can’t give them money or gift cards. You have to buy in bulk. Now, it could be an experience, it could be an app, it could be a tool. But, you need to give the same thing to everyone. What would you give?

Maryellen Stockton:

Headphones.

Luis:

Any specific kind?

Maryellen Stockton:

No, because I’ve had wired and wireless. I prefer wired. So there’s so specific thing, but it makes such a big difference with remote work.

Luis:

Yeah. Well, I’m a fan of wired actually, just because I feel that quality. I don’t know, I feel that it’s really easy to think you’re getting a premium thing wireless, and actually it doesn’t sound that well.

Maryellen Stockton:

No, it doesn’t. I had more expensive ones, and then I mainly wear these which are wired.

Luis:

Yeah. Now, I’ve opted to, instead of using wired phones at all, I’ve opted for a noise canceling microphone. But yeah, in more noisier environments that can be harsh.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

Definitely a good one. What about yourself? Obviously, excluding headphones. What is the thing that you have bought in the last, let’s say, one year to six months that has done the most difference for you in your work life balance? Work style, productivity, whatever.

Maryellen Stockton:

Most thing? I’m trying to think. Well, this one thing that I did is right before the start of pandemic, so I would say in the last year, so after I started my company, is I redid my office to really make it my space because I think it’s so important.

Luis:

This is an audio podcast, the listeners don’t see it, but you have a lovely wall behind you.

Maryellen Stockton:

Thank you. It’s personal, it’s cozy, I want to spend time in it. I light my candle, I have plants and pictures, and all my books, and all those things. I think, for me, it has really been setting up the work space. I’ll change it up, too. But, that is an investment that has continued to give back.

Luis:

Nice. All right, tell me a bit about books. Are you a book giver, do you like to give books?

Maryellen Stockton:

I do. I like to read books, but lately I start a bunch of stuff, and then pick something else. I’m one of those that has five books going on at a time.

Luis:

Yeah. I have trouble with that, I admire your ability to juggle that. I can do two. I can do one fiction and one non-fiction, but that’s it.

Maryellen Stockton:

Same. It’s easier with a non-fiction, you can stop and start, and pick it back up. With a fiction, sometimes not, just depending. I usually have all those going on.

Luis:

What books to you usually give? What is your most gifted book, let’s say?

Maryellen Stockton:

Recently, I would say my most gifted book is called Bring Your Human to Work by Erica Keswin. It’s probably somewhere in my bookshelves, it doesn’t matter. But, I just love her. She has another book that’s coming out about rituals.

Luis:

I love the title.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes. She didn’t write it necessarily for remote work, but she’s interviewed a lot of companies. And I just love it because when you ask me what are the things that people miss in remote work, I think it is bringing your human to work. She just interviews companies about different rituals that they do, and all those kind of things. It’s just really cool.

Luis:

Oh, okay. I’m actually disappointed it’s not about animals work at an office, bringing their humans to work. A reverse bringing your pet day.

Maryellen Stockton:

Well, my pets are with us every day. My dog sleeps in here beside me, and my old dog, my other dog, comes in and will give a kiss every once in a while. Yeah.

Luis:

My cats like to fight while I’m on Zoom calls, it’s a lot of fun.

Maryellen Stockton:

Or walk across the screen.

Luis:

They’re behind me and they’re like, “Meow! I’m the one showing up on the screen. No, not me. I am, I am!” That’s something to look forward to.

Maryellen Stockton:

Do you have one book lately that you’ve read?

Luis:

I have plenty, actually. But, the one that I really come back to is a fiction book called Musashi. It’s a fiction book about the life, a romanticized version, of the life of one of Japan’s greatest swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. It’s just one of those fiction books that, despite being fiction, is full of good life lessons, and ways to conduct yourself well in the world, and et cetera. I give that one a lot.

Luis:

Then, for more neurotically minded colleagues and friends, I tend to give a little workbook called The Daily Stoic. Actually, it’s a set of two books. The Daily Stoic has one stoic thought per day, and then the journal/workbook has a smaller thought, and then some lines for you to fill with your own meditations. I find that doing that every day helps you start to stay quite grounded.

Maryellen Stockton:

I like that.

Luis:

That’s the more practical. But definitely, I do think that if you take to heart the lessons within Musashi, despite it being a fiction, you have a recipe for a very healthy, successful life.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Okay, cool.

Luis:

Yeah, that’s my answer. I do have a final question for you, this one requires a bit more of a set up so please bear with me.

Luis:

Let’s say you are hosting a dinner, post-pandemic obviously. Let’s not do anything illegal, here. But, you are hosting are dinner and in attendance are going to be the people most responsible for shaping the future of work, the CEOs, and hiring managers, and et cetera, of big companies, tech companies, whatever, the biggest companies in the world, they’re going to the dinner. The dinner is going to have a roundtable specifically around remote work and the future of work.

Luis:

Now, here’s the twist. The dinner is going to happen in a Chinese restaurant, and you as the host get to pick the message that goes inside the fortune cookie. So what message are these people going to read, once they crack open their fortune cookies?

Maryellen Stockton:

Oh my goodness. Do I get time to think?

Luis:

[inaudible 00:40:42].

Maryellen Stockton:

I said, do I get time to think?

Luis:

Oh, you do get time to think, absolutely. This is the awkward silence part of the show.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yes. The message I’m going to send to these CEOs, so they’re already leading the charge for remote work.

Maryellen Stockton:

I would say, thank you. Inside their fortune cookie it’s going to say, “Thank you. The future is bright.”

Luis:

The future is bright.

Maryellen Stockton:

“We can do this together.”

Luis:

Nice. That’s a really nice message to end on, thank you so much.

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah.

Luis:

Okay. Maryellen, it was an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Where can people continue the conversation with you? Where can people find you, find more about your business, the services it provides, et cetera?

Maryellen Stockton:

Yeah. Please connect with me on LinkedIn. I have a business page, Work Well Wherever, or you can find me at Maryellen Stockton. My website is workwellwherever.com. And then, I also am on Instagram at @workwellwherever.

Luis:

Okay. Well, I’ll have all those links in the show notes. Thank you so much for doing this, it was an absolute pleasure.

Maryellen Stockton:

Thank you. It was so easy, you’re such a joy to talk to.

Luis:

Thank you. I appreciate that, I do try my best.

Luis:

Ladies and gentlemen, this was yet another episode of The Distant Job Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. This was Luis, your host. See you next week.

Luis:

And, so we close another episode of The Distant Job Podcast. And, if you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great, it’s how we reach more listeners. And the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me, and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot, leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful, in helping the podcast get to more listeners.

Luis:

Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast, click on your favorite episode, any episode really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up, and whenever we get the transcripts of the episode up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Luis:

And of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country. Look around the whole world, because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. To help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who you need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode of The Distant Job Podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

Are your meetings boring? When you go into the zoom app, you already feel tired? Do meetings last an eternity? If at least one of your answers is yes, this podcast episode is for you.

Nowadays, there are new symptoms related to remote work. For instance, the so-called zoom fatigue is something many remote workers experience because of the boring and lengthy meetings. So, if that is your case, Maryellen Stockton shares how to make virtual meetings more productive and remote work fun during this episode. 

 

Highlights:

  • Tips to be more productive while WFH
  • How to separate leisure time from work time
  • Strategies to increase engagement in your team
  • Tips to avoid the zoom fatigue
  • How to know if teams are being productive or unproductive virtually
  • Making brainstorming sessions fun
  • Skills of successful remote workers

 

Book Recommendation:

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up in the next few weeks!