Do It Yourself: The World's Best Work From Home Tips
Coronavirus causes global crisis. People are forced to work from home. Everyone's struggling. Kids are at home too. Bla bla bla. You know the drill. It's how almost all articles start these days. This post is different. It's what I'd like to call a ‘do it yourself blog post’ - consisting of tips from all of you - based on your real and recent experiences. Here we go...
The biggest workplace experiment on the planet
This whole ‘work from home’ experiment is undoubtably the largest workplace experiment ever. Billions of us are in a ‘research project’. The ‘why’ is terrible. The ‘how’ is really an experiment in how we cope. Could there be any positive side effects?
Progressive companies we’ve visited focus strongly on ‘experiment and adapt’. They constantly search for better ways to work. Now, everyone is forced to follow their lead. Unfortunately, this experiment is far from ideal. There was no time for proper preparation. No clear hypothesis to test. No clear metrics in place. And the fact that kids are also at home makes it at least 10x more difficult (I assume)!
However far-from-ideal this is, it is better than to never experiment at all. Let’s reflect on the experiment so far. Let’s help each other to get better at this 'work from home' stuff.
Luctor et emergo
Joost and I grew up in the Zeeland province in The Netherlands. The motto there is luctor et emergo (Latin for "I struggle and emerge"). Struggling (and hopefully emerging) is what many people are doing in this new reality. To support the struggle and help you emerge, this post is about all of you – the community – sharing insights and lessons about how to make ‘work from home’ work. So, here we go.
Crowdsourcing working from home tips
Drop your tips, recommendations, learnings, do’s, don’ts, failures, and essentials in the comment section below. Whether they are about technology, rituals, dog-walking or cat-feeding, kids, team dynamics, meetings, information sharing or decision-making, share what you’ve learned and inspire others.
Do It Yourself: The Best Work From Home Tips
Let’s crowdsource as many practical tips directly from those in trenches - you. Drop your comments below, and we’ll join in with our team as well.
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1. Working less hours so me and my husband can also take care of the kids. But: being more productive during my work hours.
2. Having 2 informal calls each week with my team to discuss non-work things.
3. Fewer meetings and more focused work. It helps me to be more productive and we found out that the meetings were not useful online. Maybe we can skip them offline too 😁.
I think it important to start the day as if you go to the office. Shower, get dressed, eat, and then start working (preferably in a separate space). That helps a lot my mind to feel in work state.
Number two is that I like to work more with to-do lists at home. Make it more clear what I will do and how far I get.
For me, it has mostly been these changes that helped:
1. setting up home office with proper equipment (I never really liked working from home before, but I learned that's mainly because of the equipment). That helped a lot!
2. Adding a 9am check-in call with Ellen to the routine. We briefly discuss our to-do's for the day. Good to talk and have a clear starting point for the day.
3. Carving our more time to read and think.
4. Headphones + Spotify playlist "Feel good dinner" or piano music :)
5. Daily walk to get fresh air, mostly after finishing the work day.
Besides those, I feel some things we were already doing at Corporate Rebels help A LOT! For example:
* Monthly goal-setting and progress overview in Trello, see https://corporate-rebels.com/the-bare-essentials/
* Friday afternoon team closure. Brief call to end the week, discuss highlights, fuck-ups, compliments, and random stuff
* Communication mainly through Slack/WhatsApp
* 2x per day email check (11am and 4pm)
As there is no commuting, try to invest this time for additional activities; regular routine in the morning and then add some extra time to read job related or non articles, news etc.
Keep a schedule as it would be in the office and do not overload, keep meetings and discussions within the time frame.
Move around, take breaks between tasks.
End your working day ontime and concentrate to additional activities such as reading, gym, family time etc.
My wife and I check in on Sunday night for the week ahead; and again each evening for the next 24 hours in case anything has changed. We’re very much feeling like an agile team at the moment!
And this was an opportunity to upgrade my desk chair to a used, immaculate high quality office chair, for the good of my back :)
A couple that work really well for me.
1. Plan my day into 30 minute slots each morning and drop in what I want to work on and when. Helps me focus on what's important so I can control my day not the other way around
2. If you're in a team, have a team swim lane board (each team member has their own swim lane) where everyone can drop non urgent requests for each other. Reduces the distractions (email, slack etc..) during the day for everyone, they then can plan the work on their terms)
For me, having spent the last few years holding down a consultancy job to pay for building a startup, it’s been about patience and focusing on the positive language about what’s happening - Not locked in but staying safe.
To fight the frustration & feeling of inability to help I spend time;
1) researching free or useful simple guides to post that might help businesses & people struggling like me or who I know.
2) got involved in an exchange of free services in a startup community to help fill skill/ knowledge gaps in the absence of funding.
3) try to encourage different options on how businesses could continue to innovate in the absence of funding & surplus of skills during furlough - such as build for equity
4) Attending a lot of Webinars & listening to podcasts.
5) Setting weekly goals & catchup with cofounder helps feeling that things are still getting done.
6) Reviewing impacts, trends and feedback from customers & markets to better understand what post COVID-19 might be - what are their challenges & benefits for hopefully more social businesses in the future.
7) Started to limit listening to government updates to one per day with a measured belief until facts are available.
8) Going out for a walk alone to get a break away from family to clear the head & listen to music for an hour per day.
9) Getting showered & dressed each morning ready for calls.
10) Making weekends a time to catch up ( zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime) with friends & family.
Social capital and social networks are becoming increasingly important in today’s economy at large, and for individuals within organisations. For my MSc dissertation in Organisational Psychology, I researched how newcomers transition into a self-managing organisation (Lee & Edmondson, 2017), an organisation where authority is decentralised and classic manager-subordinate relationships are absent.
It’s all about your people. Now more than ever. But in knee-jerk reactions to the coronavirus many companies are laying off large numbers. I want to shout out to the shareholder-value managers driven by their spreadsheets: “This is not only inhumane. It is bad for your business!”. Why? It will harm your company. Companies that treat their people best in bad times emerged as winners in the past.
"Nothing reveals character like a crisis." We wrote this recently and, as predicted, during the Corona crisis, companies revealed their true colors. Recently, we highlighted the bad. So let's turn to the good, and highlight organizations that not only talk about putting people first, but also walk their talk. Let's applaud those that put their money where their mouth is in difficult times.