Suddenly the world changed, and so last Friday, we started working from home. On Tuesday, at our monthly Zooma meeting, we were asked 'How's working from home going?'. I've only worked from home the odd day here and there. So, as my colleagues spoke, I began taking notes. Here is what I have learned, from our accumulated experiences.
How to start the day
Don't change the time you usually wake up. We now have all our usual commute time for ourselves, to do what we want. So people have been going for morning walks and runs (sometimes accompanied by children and dogs). Thirty minutes of fresh morning air seems to give us a good start and more energy than we usually have after travelling on a packed bus or tram. We've also found we are in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day. Tip - having a warm drink during the morning walk seems to lift us even more :-).
How to keep the focus
Create your own home office
As well as satisfying our need to create things, this serves a far more meaningful purpose. By doing all our work in one room (ideally a spare room), and that includes all our calls, we can separate our 'work' space from the rest of the home. So when we finish for the day, we have closure from work and can shut the door and forget about work.
Dialogue with your managers and colleagues
It's crucial to have an open and consistent dialogue with your manager and colleagues, and it's far better to communicate too much, than too little. They will always tell you if you are telling them too many things. But this rarely happens!
Your body is just as important when working from home. Make sure you adapt your chair and table height (if possible). Some of us already long for our lovely new office chairs and desks but we realise we won't see those for a while, so to be comfortable, we need to make adjustments.
Put your personal phone on silent and in another room; we wouldn't let it distract us if we were sitting in the office. Avoid social media too, when getting used to new ways of working the last thing anyone needs is a constant drip-feed of questionable news, information and opinions.
Get up and move
It's very tempting to sit uninterrupted and plough your way through your to-do list, but it's essential to take breaks. Walk around your flat/house, or pop outside for a bit of fresh air. Tip - set an alarm on your personal phone. Yes, the one in another room.
Put the kettle on
Coffee, tea and biscuits - you can indulge yourself in your favourite brands now, without anyone knowing about your secret addiction to Oreos.
Try and use good quality headphones for video conferences. With five people on a call, it can sometimes be hard to hear and distinguish between colleagues, let's not make it even harder for ourselves!
People are naturally social
You may not be able to bump into one of your colleagues at the coffee machine or have a chat as they delicately add a slice of cheese to a piece of crispbread, but that doesn't mean those little, essential interactions should disappear. In fact, they're even more crucial now. These conversations help maintain and nurture work relationships and also help you feel happy at work. So book a few fika breaks with different colleagues each day. At the beginning of each week, put together a plan to make sure everyone is included, so no-one is sitting at home feeling isolated.
Lunchtime walks. A change of scenery and fresh air will re-invigorate you for the afternoon. And maybe once or twice, you can indulge in the local pizzeria weekday lunchtime deal, that you've only been able to admire at the weekend ruefully.
Virtual lunches. Not just for those of us missing the Swedish lunchtime chatter with colleagues. We feel that to avoid potentially feeling isolated, it's especially important to hear how our colleagues are doing, and a quick question at the beginning of a meeting isn't really enough, is it?
Speaking is more personal than an email
Hearing a colleagues voice and talking to them about a challenge is more social, and often quicker and more productive than emailing, or sending an instant message. Even better, use a video call via Zoom, seeing a smiley face is far better for us when working alone than merely hearing a colleagues voice.
Use on-screen video
Need to explain something complicated? Rather than get frustrated with yourself, it can be far easier to show something to a colleague by making a short demonstration video; we like to use Vidyard!
Beats and the spoken word
Music can help focus your mind and put a smile on your face. Radio feels social and gives you a good sense of the wider community. There are millions of podcasts waiting to be discovered.
At Zooma, we have a good team spirit, and believe it's essential for us to continue to bond. So we put our thinking hats on during the meeting and came up with a few ways for this to happen remotely, here's what we came up with:
Everyone in the company to dial in and share fika and stories from the comfort of their own home.
Everyone to add a few songs on Spotify and we create some playlists for people to listen to at home.
House tours/ MTV cribs
Everyone gives a 5-minute tour of their flat/ home, highlighting some important items to them.
Set up groups in teams, so staff interact and work together on answering the questions. Everyone will become more familiar with each other and working like this together.
Have Slack channels about different subjects, for example, movies, sports, music, books, recipes etc., to help stimulate conversations between people.
This app makes it possible to simulate the office online. The ability to set up rooms you can simply enter to voice/video chat without having to host a meeting is really neat.
These are all Zoomers collective thoughts from our first days working at home, I hope you find them helpful.
Yes, it will take time to get used to working from home, but at the end of the meeting, I sat at my newly created desk (read table with a laptop on), feeling more comfortable about working from home.
We may be working from different flats and houses, but our work stays the same, and I know my colleagues can easily support me on a phone call or a Zoom-meeting away.
I'm now ready to rock working from home, just as much as I did in the office!
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