Illustration of Derrick working from home

Ahead of the Curve: A Q&A with working-from-home expert Derrick Outram

Trends come and go, sometimes faster than most of us can keep track of. Remember fidget spinners? As if overnight, our hands transformed into tiny windmills. Or what about frosted lipstick? Never forget that we literally Mr. Freeze’d ourselves to be “cool”.

Paris Hilton in the early 2000s on the left and Mr Freeze from Batman on the right

For better or for worse, being in fashion has controlled our lives for as long as we can remember – from your Von Dutch-clad Duff Puff down to your forever-salt-stained Ugg boots.

Fast forward to 2020: a new trend has taken the world by storm in the last 3-5 weeks, and no, you won’t find it on any Paris Fashion Week F/W runways. I’m talking about WFH — you know, working from home.

Working from home has been around for a while, albeit in an underground sort of way. Coders, scrapbookers, and professional dog trainers alike have literally been picking up their computers,  moving them out of the office and, believe it or not, working – and it’s been going on for years. Radical. And not to brag or anything, but Banfield has been dabbling in WFH before it was mainstream.

That’s right. Banfield’s own Derrick Outram, Senior Writer and Partner, has been working from his home office in Edmonton for more than 11 years – a real veteran. This week I “sat down” with Derrick to chat a little bit about his experience working from home.

Derrick Outram, a senior writer at Banfield, smiling on a light blue background

Q: So, Derrick, you’ve been way ahead of the curve here. Tell me a little about how you started working from home. What was it like being so avant garde with your work style?

A: First off, there’s no flattening this particular curve. I’ve been on trend for over a decade.

I’d also say it’s really more of a lifestyle than a work style, y’know? And this one just sort of chose me. Was it meant to be – cosmically pre-ordained? – or was it because I moved from Ottawa to Toronto to Edmonton and had no other choice? Some questions can never be answered.

Q: Nor should they! How does it make you feel to see some of the world’s biggest celebrities working from home?

John Krasinksi on the left and Queen Elizabeth on the right

A: On the one hand, gratified that they are finally heeding my advice. Yes, I’m looking at you Krasinski. On the other, a little miffed that the pandemic is getting all the credit for this surge in popularity.

Q: Exactly! Where’s the glory? Now that everyone and their grandma is on Zoom, can you speak a little about the biggest video-conferencing faux pas?

A: First of all, mute your mic. Nobody else cares you got an email. Second, you should never – and I can’t emphasize this enough – pair a dress shirt with pyjama pants. Just don’t do it. It’s either all business or all casual. This isn’t Tiger King. Pick a lane.

Q: You heard it here first, cool cats and kittens. What do you tell someone who thinks maybe they can’t “pull off” working from home? Any tips or tricks you’d offer them?

A: Try this simple visualization technique: Close your eyes. Picture yourself at your computer at the office. Now, instead of at the office, picture yourself at your computer at home. Quick — open your eyes. Boom!

Q: Magic! What do you tell someone who is maybe nervous about trying out this new “work from home” trend?

A: Just jump in and figure it out as you go. You don’t need to master it on your first day. Obviously, that takes years. Remember, there’s no one else around to judge you… until you click that ‘share video’ button.

Q: I’m still working on that confidence. Thanks for the support. So, is there any part of you that’s annoyed that everyone is ripping you off with the whole “working from home” thing?

A: Not really. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Even pale imitations, I suppose.

Q: Absolutely pasty in comparison! Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about working from home becoming so widespread. What do you say to the haters? Will they come around? They risk looking rather passé if they don’t…

A: Get online or get out of the way. This is the new normal. But we can make it extraordinary!

After talking to Derrick, all I could think was, “Working from work? Don’t know her.” Looking back to a month ago, it’s hard to believe we were still “going to work”. It’s like, 2019 called and they want their office back.

Expectation versus reality meme of what we think Derrick does all day working from home

If we learned anything from this Q&A it’s that there’s nothing worse than being behind on a trend, especially when that trend saves lives. And, all jokes aside, everyone who has the privilege to work from home should! We have a responsibility to our communities to flatten the curve and that starts by staying inside.

And to all you essential employees and front-line healthcare workers who have been putting themselves on the line for us through this crisis: THANK YOU! We’re trying our best for you like you do for us every day.

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