Startups

How I Work (from home): GreenGen CEO Brad Dockser on keeping schedules and kombucha breaks in place

The CEO of the Bethesda-based company talks about the shift to remote work.

GreenGen CEO Brad Dockser takes time to get outside with Trooper.

(Courtesy photo)

This is Technical.ly’s How I Work series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region’s founders and technologists use to get through the day. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us: dc@technical.ly.


As CEO of Bethesda-based GreenGen, Brad Dockser is always focused on helping clients lower energy-related operating costs and improving overall sustainability.

“One of the key things we do is help clients correlate their energy consumption with occupancy and economic activity,” he said. “Especially now, when many buildings are operating with reduced occupancy, we want to make sure that buildings use an appropriate amount of energy and water.”

Dockser leads a company that operates at the intersection of energy, real estate, technology and capital markets. It also has regional offices in London, Tokyo and Shanghai, as well as a venture arm.

With the shift to remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we checked in with Dockser about to learn more about how the company transitioned, and his own WFH setup.

This is how he works.

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What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any company-related work?

I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and do a quick scan of my emails to check on our business in Asia. After scanning my email, I use the Headspace app for a 15-minute guided meditation. Then, I work out for an hour while watching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. My breakfast consists of two cups of coffee and yogurt with granola and fruit. Then my “official” workday begins!

How often do you check your email, and do you use any program to get to Inbox Zero?

I check my email throughout the day, usually every half hour or so. I always make sure to get to Inbox Zero by the end of the day. Whenever I check my inbox, I determine what emails require immediate action and always forward, file them by client and project, and delete as appropriate. This saves me time and helps keep my email under control.

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For ongoing projects, how do you keep track of your progress?

Internally, GreenGen uses the workflow application monday.com to keep track of our projects and deliverables. The main focus is always determining who is responsible, when the deliverable is due, and making sure each project has the support it needs to achieve success. For my own personal organization, I have tried everything! I am constantly searching for the perfect project management tool. I use or have used physical notebooks, yellow pads, Post-it notes, Outlook Tasks, and all types of software and apps! Let me know if you have any suggestions!

When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?

As I have been working at home for the last few weeks, I make sure I get outside. I have two acres at home, so I will often take calls from my yard or get out to play with my dog, Trooper. Being outside prevents me from feeling cooped up and helps get my creativity flow. And of course, kombucha breaks are a necessity! In our office, we have kombucha on tap, but at home, kombucha by the bottle has been doing the trick.

What’s your gear?

I have kept to the same schedule since beginning to work from home. I wake up and get dressed like I am going into the office. My home office consists of a Lenovo ThinkPad, Microsoft Surface tablet, iPhone and headphones. I am kind of old school — I still use the headphones that have a cord attached to my device.  And my staples — red and blue pens, a notebook and lots of sticky notes.

About how much time per week do you devote to professional work that isn’t your full-time job? (i.e. teaching, running meetups).

My main “outside-of-the-office work” is with the Urban Land Institute (ULI). I serve on ULI’s global advisory board for its Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance. I am also the chair of ULI’s Redevelopment and Reuse Product Council and co-chair of ULI Washington’s Sustainability Initiative. I spend at least five hours a week on my roles with ULI.

What’s one time-saving tip you have?

As a team, we strive to remain conscious of what our clients are going through during this time of social and economic uncertainty. By slowing down and taking the time as a team to remain thoughtful and vigilant when looking at client assets, we are saving time in the long-run.

Many of us are shifting to remote work these days. What are your tips for staying productive at home? 

Prior to the mandatory work-from-home directive, we had our employees do a two-day work-from-home resiliency test. This was to ensure that everyone’s home Wi-Fi was adequate so that all of our documents and materials were easily accessible online and so that we could troubleshoot any potential problems preemptively. Ensuring that our team members got monitors, mice and keyboards at home made the transition seamless. Proactively preparing meant that we were able to maintain our productivity and transition more seamlessly.

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