Work-Life Integration at Green Room

By: Heather Rose, Senior Vice President, Client Navigation, Green Room Communications

We asked Heather Rose, SVP of Client Navigation, about her approach to work-life integration to flex and thrive in a work-from-home role. Here’s what she had to say!

How long have you worked fully remote? About nine years now—five with Green Room. I’ve worked with NJ- and NYC-based agencies from Connecticut, Toronto and now Maryland in full-time, part-time and consulting roles. I have run the gamut! Green Room’s model empowers me to keep growing my career despite not living in New Jersey where our physical office space is located.

What tools or resources does Green Room offer to promote success in a remote environment? In the normal (pre- and hopefully post-COVID) state, we have team members who are office-based, hybrid (a flex of home and office) and fully remote like me. We’ve always been at the forefront of connectivity—integrating the Slack collaboration platform and Zoom into our daily routines years before the pandemic made them a necessity. For quick things, I’ll Slack someone; it’s analogous to talking over the cubicle. I’m on the phone a lot, too, but have noticed a trend toward more Facetime and Slack video calls. I love that my clients are opting into this, too. It’s been a refreshing shift to have weekly Zoom calls where everyone can see one other; I feel like it’s deepened relationships and allowed for greater strategic spontaneity.

How do you create a break between work and home without a commute or clear end to the workday? Ordinarily my sons’ school routines create the flow for my work hours. Now that COVID-19 has thrown that out the window  —  especially as my third grader is fully virtual until January (insert screaming face emoji here!) — setting consistent routines and clear communication about schedules is essential. I am fully focused during my workday window, which is generally 9am-3:30pm. Then, I shut my laptop. My clients and teams know I’m still reachable for urgent things later in the day, but I am an advocate for selfcare and family time. It’s important to be able to “turn off” and I am appreciative that Green Room has shaped a culture where that’s encouraged.

The intro mentions “work-life integration.” How is that different from “work-life balance?” I consider work-life balance an old school, push-and-pull phrase. Meaning, you put in your 8+ hours in a chair at the office…and try to keep the “+” under control so you have time for a life outside of work. At Green Room, we prefer the term work-life INTEGRATION. It’s based on a foundational trust that we are all committed to doing the best work for our clients, our agency and ourselves, every day. We meet or beat deadlines, we show up powered on for brainstorms and client conversations. We care, we are accountable and we have high standards. We deliver. And within that space, there is permission to flex into the other areas of our lives even if those things fall during the standard workday. For example, I recently worked at the beach and took a few hours mid-day to be with my family, signing back on in the evening to wrap up. If I need to step away for a doctor’s appointment or school meeting, I shift my schedule and don’t need to take PTO. This is an extraordinary benefit as a working mother; I never have to choose between work and family. I can create time for everything. 

What elements of WFH surprised you or would surprise others? That I’m never lonely. I’m talking to clients and teammates all day long during scheduled and spontaneous conversations. Also, that my location hasn’t hindered my ability to lead and nurture strong client and team relationships. It’s all about the effort you put in daily to build connections despite not being face-to-face. None of my colleagues or clients are back in the office yet and some have actually switched to permanently remote, so at this stage, pretty much everyone in my “space” has hit their stride with WFH. But I’m NOT surprised about that because PR pros are nimble! 

What is the best advice you have for someone who is making the switch to fully remote? Be present. Set expectations and form agreements with your teams about what your days and interactions will look like, and follow through. Also, prepare to pivot until you find the right flow. Be responsive, too. It can be hard to know if someone is heads-down on a project or not at their desk if they don’t reply promptly to Slacks and emails. If I need to be laser focused on something or step away for a bit, I post in our “In and Out” Slack channel, which is like a work status blackboard across the agency. Also, before COVID, even though I was fully remote, I always made sure to work in some in-person trips to see clients and teams when possible. Despite technology innovations, sometimes nothing beats face-to-face interaction.

Any closing thoughts? We’re going to see more and more people in PR working remotely past COVID. It’s fantastic to work with an agency that’s always recognized that good work can happen anywhere, and it’s exciting to help shape “where we go from here.” I know that Green Room will stay ahead of the curve for our clients and our team members. But one also has to be very self-motivated to thrive in a remote environment. It’s all about what you create for yourself!