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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- Starting the day with an all hands meeting with the whole organisation (35ppl) where we briefly review yesterday’s results in terms of sales and customer feedback. Makes me feel connected to the rest of the organisation and also forces me to be ready for work at 8.50.
- Above is followed by a short check in with my team. We share 1) how we are today and what feels important to us right now 2) the most important thing we accomplished yesterday and the most important thing we expect to accomplish today + if we want to ask for help/have blocks 3) we review how we fulfilled the particular week’s team focus by showing 0-5 fingers at the same time, and then maybe we discuss why we gave those points.(The weekly focus can be anything from “team spirit” to “responsibility” to “fuck it - ship it!”)
- Daily 3pm ”fika” breaks with the whole team to chat about anything but work
- Doing mini-workouts with the team over video link. Helps everyone staying active and it is a fun experience to share ;) can recommend ”7 minute workout” - search for it on Spotify!
- In general keeping up daily/weekly/monthly routines for check-ins and sprint planning and follow ups
I have started with the Vertellis Life planner from the start of the crisis and it really serves me well. I use it to plan my day with the three main tasks for that day, that gives focus to my day and it regularly helps me to regain focus during the day just by checking my planner. And also every day has a theme which helps my focus as well.
And in the evening I also reflect on the day with the question what are you proud of today?
A daily one-hour walk in the local park, taking my skipping rope and along the way do 5 x 100 jumps. Be MINDFUL when walking through the park, see the trees/leaves bud and grow, notice the swans and geese fighting (ahhh ducklings protection!), notice the flowers coming out on the rodondendrons, notice fellow human beings being; being GRATEFUL for this time.
-We have our usual Monday morning staff meeting via Zoom. It's something we did in the 'before time' and know it works for us. We've had to adjust some things (e.g., appoint someone to moderate the chat, someone to keep time, someone to facilitate) but we're getting the hang of it.
-We bookend that with an optional Zoom Happy Hour Friday afternoon with someone volunteering to serve as host.
-We created a tip sheet on combatting Zoom fatigue: https://go.umd.edu/iCN
+ Daily morning workouts before starting to work.
+ Create harmony ad integration between work and home. You don't need an home office to do that, it's enough to have the right IT equipment, a desk and a good chair and make sure you set up when you start working and close everything off at the end of the day (I personally put my laptop back in the backpack every night).
+ Maintain human contact with colleagues, we are phisically distancing but we should remain connected more than ever. Have some dedicated sessions to have a coffee and a chat about anything but work (virtual coffees, pub quiz are all great ideas).
+ If you can, take some time to learn new things.
+ Be kind to people and nice things will happen!
As my wife is at home, too and we have a little daughter (~3y/o), we started parenting/working shifts.
My wife is a total early bird. She often starts working at 4:30AM. That perfectly fits her biological rhythm. In consequence, I take care of the little one from the moment she wakes up until around noon. Then we switch.
That's cool for me, too, because I am rather a night owl and don't feel like working in the morning. I indeed love the fact that communication compresses to the time between noon and ~4:00 PM, when most colleagues stop working, giving me another 3-4 hours for really concentrated and focused work.
Some of my colleagues don't like that, because I am not available all the time, but I have the feeling that I can finish so much more stuff without all the disruptions.
In fact, I already start fearing that I will lose this freedom of work time choice, once we are supposed to go back to the office... 😔
Context: I've got 3 kids at home (11, 8 and 5), my wife works Mon-Wed and I'm lucky enough to have a home office.
1. When I'm in the office, I'm working. When I'm not, I'm not working, I'm parenting.
2. Work set hours. Mon-Wed I go 50-50 with my wife, then fit a couple of hours in at the start/end of the day. Thu-Fri I work normal-ish hours. But I try to lay out when I will work at the start of the week and, mostly, stick to it.
3. Get set for work. For me, this simply involves shaving every day and wearing a shirt/polo shirt.
4. If the kids come in to the office whilst I'm on a Zoom call, then they have to say hello to whoever I'm speaking to.
5. I've taught the kids how to make me a "frothy coffee". It's nice to have a live-in barista.
When the shutdown was announced, our people were already set up to work efficiently from home. We promised to take care of their needs and assured them of our trust. We did not, and will not, recommend that they conform to any ideas we may have about operating from home during the time of coronavirus. It's uncharted territory and what works for us may not work for them.
If asked (unlikely), I would advise against dressing-up for a commute to the office that is not going to happen. Whatever rocks your boat, of course, but swanning around in a dressing gown makes perfect sense to me.
Most days we could be up and ready to start work in minutes by cutting back on the daily baths and showers that are so bad for the skin and wash away good bacteria. I refer to a report by Boston dermatologist Dr Ranella Hirsch who cautions against over-bathing simply to confirm to inappropriate societal norms. But a long bath every few days after bingeing on Ozark is fine. And if you feel like staying in bed longer than usual, answer those emails in the reclining position.
Continue checking mail every few minutes as colleagues (and even clients) may need your help at short notice. I am using some of the time saved by keeping in much closer contact with colleagues than before. There is a staffed virtual office desk available to all visitors and 24/7 readiness to help out in personal as well as business matters. We had one mass meeting by Zoom to orientate ourselves early on and this facility is available but not force-fed. There are all manner of ways for us to keep in touch but we also respect the wishes of those that need some quiet.
Productivity during shutdown has been relatively high despite the challenging business climate. We are preparing for better days and keeping everyone fully informed of our plans.
There is absolutely no need to police ourselves during shutdown (or at any other time) but it is essential that we all know what's going on.
We know that working from home works.
Try using pomodoro scheduling - 25 minutes focus, 5 minutes break or 48/12.
Try box breathing and breath-holding exercises to improve your energy and calm under pressure.
Avoid fighting exhaustion with high energy treats.
Try celebrating the end of the work day.
See https://novavi.co/2020/04/15/cultivating-personal-energy/ for more details.
What helped me to bring some quality and fun into the situation.
1. I have my own lightbox Corona counter; it tells me how many weeks of experience I already gained in home office-ing and social distancing
2. I work close to a window and look outside as much as I can to see the sun. And the green of the leafs which I could watch grow since the beginning of the crisis.
3. It just so happened that a colleague and I established a coffee break. It's not at a fixed time every day, sometimes it doesn't work out at all just like in real office life... But we connect every day to see if we have a common time window and then we talk about our preferred coffee blend, the dog of her sister, work-related aspects - just whatever is on our mind in that moment.
4. Like many others already said, proper equipment makes a difference. After two weeks into the home office I went back to my workplace and picked up the screen, keyboard, my mouse... since then, working from home feels so much more official and normal.
5. I don't have the luxury of a separate workspace in my apartment which is why I am using the kitchen table... Luckily it is huge enough for working and dining... However, I make it a point to remove all work-related stuff from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. Out of sight, out of mind.
6. Lastly, I dress nicely yet comfortably, I put some make-up on and my earrings. In the end, this is still work, not couching... even though, when I feel like it, me and my laptop move to the sofa for a couple of hours. Nothing wrong with working from a comfy place every now and then. In the end, that's one of the advantages of working from home, isn't it...
7. Very lastly, I make an effort to realize the positive aspects of the situation... I eat more regularly, I eat more healthy, I drink more tea and water than I do in the office... I enjoy my balcony when I take a break, no commute means more time for me: the apartment is in great shape and I haven't read that much in ages...
No matter how hard it sometimes is to work in isolation, if we look carefully, there is an abundance of learning and positive side effects. Let's hope we can make some of them our new habits when we are allowed (or requested) to go back to office :)
Bags and accessories made of truck tarpaulins - that's what Freitag is known for. With headquarters in Zurich, around 250 employees work for the cult label which uses holacratic methods. They introduced a new salary model in early 2019. Pascal Dulex is responsible for Organizational Culture & Creative Direction. He spoke to us about their sometimes-painful path to a new compensation system.
We are super excited to launch the German edition of our "Corporate Rebels" book today. We can now reach even more people in their native language and share the stories of workplace pioneers from around the globe. The full title: Corporate Rebels - wie Pioniere die Arbeitswelt revolutionieren.