The Perks of Remote Working
Office life could now be a thing of the past. So, in this work from home experiment; here are my brightsides.
With it now being over two months since lockdown was first introduced, working from home has started to become a normality for many of us. Differentiating your work life from your personal life can be particularly challenging, especially if you’re stuck using your bedroom as your office. However, no matter where your temporary workstation is situated or who you find yourself surrounded by, if anyone, we all have things we like and dislike about this jumbled lifestyle.
We thought we’d look to the brightside and focus on some of the perks we’ve seen from this new remote working lifestyle.
So Close, Yet so Far.
Communication during Remote Working
In any workforce, communication is important. In an agency, it’s imperative. There needs to be transparency between teams and clients, but also when discussing complex issues sometimes it’s just easier to be in one room and hash it out. Thankfully, there are many different platforms to utilise during these disconnected times.
The ‘Quick Coffee’ Replacement
Walking through our open plan office, frequently you grab a colleague and head to the kitchen together to make your next cup of coffee and run through an issue you’re having. With this not possible, the replacement we’ve been using is Slack. Slack is the perfect channel to speak to your colleagues quickly. Whether you have a question, need something reviewed or just want some office chit chat, this instant messaging service is there for you. It’s not just instant messaging either; Slack has video calling capabilities. I’ve used this feature a good amount, but it can be temperamental. I will, however, forever praise the convenience of Slack – it’s an ideal, less formal alternative to email and something that I have been using a lot during this work from home period. Slack uses the marketing slogan ‘where the work happens’ and we’d say this is pretty true for Found, it’s where quick decisions are made and instant messaging reigns supreme.
The ‘Let’s Jump in a Meeting Room’
Although Slack is perfectly suitable for a number of different situations, being able to actually speak to a person can be much more efficient. In particular when you compare an email conversation to a quick chat in person, the amount of time saved is huge. If it’s more than a 2-minute chat that needs your full attention, in our office we’d normally be jumping into a meeting room to nail down the solution. Video calling is therefore a valuable communication method to replace that and something we’re encouraging for when you’d ordinarily sit down one-on-one. For a simple call with either a client or colleague, for us it’s always Google Meet just due to the simplicity in setting up a call, being able to use your own Meet link again and again and the fact no extra downloads are required.
It’s also worth noting the benefits that video conferencing has over face-to-face meetings in a real office. Long gone are the problems of double booking meeting rooms and having to change meeting location. What’s great is that the internet gives us unlimited rooms as such, it’s beautiful. Not to mention the ability to mute yourself or even other people. I’ve used this feature countless times to mute myself, so I can type away on my keyboard making notes without disturbing the rest of the call. It’s a fantastic feature if you need to take notes or if you want to multitask with another piece of work. My handwritten note taking can be a much slower process than my typing so this is definitely something I could get used to.
The Team Meeting
Whilst we use Google Meet for our quick, day to day meetings, the experience provided by Zoom tends to be more suitable for longer meetings or one where we needed a guaranteed sleek experience. Zoom is better for scheduling recurring meetings with more people and also feels a bit smoother in general due to the added features. In particular, we’ve been hosting all our department meetings, full team meetings and even webinars via Zoom with great success.
As long as you follow Zoom recommendations on security (using passwords, locking the screenshare etc.) then we find that Zoom makes it feel like we’re all in the room together. As a team who’s used to gathering round the office bar for our Friday stand-up, the functionality that Zoom has to allow us to all see each other and chat is second to none.
What Day is it Today?
Keeping a Routine
We’ve all been feeling a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and it’s completely understandable. It can be a lot more difficult to differentiate between days of the week. I find myself having to check calendars more often now to try and figure out if it is Tuesday or Wednesday. The repetitive day by day structure can get tedious and boring, but there are a few things that I will probably miss when stepping back into the office too.
Managing your Time
Working remotely can feel like we’re in a time bubble – suddenly you have more time on your hands and free up a lot of previous time drains, and yet it also feels like days are shorter and there’s less free time. How is that possible.
For starters, the one minute commute from bedroom to desk is something that I’ve developed a strong appreciation for, especially considering now we are seeing the start of summer. There’s nothing worse than squeezing onto a train, tube or bus on a hot day. On top of this, it also frees up some time that you wouldn’t have had before, to do whatever you want to help set you up for the day, whether that be exercise or watching another episode on Netflix. The world is now your oyster (except in almost every other way). It’s important to still get up at a reasonable time before work and get an activity in that will prepare you for your working day. Rolling out of bed onto your first call of the day can be appealing for the extra sleep, but it blurs the line between personal life and work time that you might later regret it.
Time management in general can be challenging right now but I like to see it as a challenge. When I’m planning my work, whilst it can be tempting to schedule a full 8 hours or more of tasks a day, I’m remembering how much more intense a workday feels right now and planning accordingly. Mix up the tasks that you’re scheduling yourself in, and make sure you plan for breaks like time outdoors or hanging out with your dog. Not only is this good for man’s best friend, it also will help the rhythm of your work day feel more like the office where you’d have distractions breaking up the concentration time.
The biggest thing we’ve learnt during work from home life is that flexibility and freedom is great, but also hard to manage. When you’re motivating yourself every day to get up and work, knowing that you’re just a few steps away from netflix and snacks, it can be hard to always stay productive. I think the best advice here is to work to your own needs. If you need a few hours break or a day off, we’re all for communication with colleagues on this and taking the time you need. The worst feeling is staring at the computer screen without getting things done, so if a longer lunch break or an afternoon off will help up your motivation levels then do it!
Remember you can also have your workspace however helps you the most. I have to mention that I have been taking advantage of having my own space to listen to music while I work, which I find helps to keep me productive and focused. Although you can still listen to music in the office, earphones for a prolonged period of time can become uncomfortable. It also means you can’t hear your colleagues in the office as well, so could awkwardly seem like you are ignoring them or miss important conversations. Therefore, having my own choice of background music whilst I work has proved to be a big perk of not being in the office.
Taking a lunch break still during work from home is so important. Lunch is a controversial topic because it can be looked at from two perspectives. I know that lunch options were much better in the office because you would have a number of food places around your office which give you almost unlimited options – but you can still enjoy a good break at home. Keep your house stocked up with food you can prepare options from, then the work from home lunch can be incredibly flexible. Not too hungry? Have a bowl of cereal. Wanting something sweet? Let’s make pancakes! Haven’t had a roast dinner in a while? Go for it, there’s no restrictions on your cravings here.
More importantly remember that you need the time away from the screen. With that in mind, see your lunch break as an opportunity to spend some time doing something you love. For example, whilst the weather is great, why not sit outside and read a book? Or curl up on the sofa and catch up on your favourite TV show. An office lunch break might revolve around food and chat with your colleagues normally, but this new world means you have even more options for how to switch off during that break time.
Beyond just a lunch break, make sure you’re taking lots of breaks throughout the day too. There’s always time to get up and stretch if you’re feeling like you’ve been sat at the desk too long, or even just go have a little walk around the block (or your garden). This is so important for shaking off the feeling of being stuck inside all day and staying positive about work from home life.
Home or Away, it Mostly Stays the Same.
Now, I could continue to outline the many differences between working from home and office life but to be honest, there are probably more similarities than we first thought. Because of the fluidity created from advancements in technology, working from home is no longer just a possibility, but has instead been proved to be a completely tangible reality. We have all been living this lifestyle for the last couple of months and for Found, apart from the odd frozen video call, we have thrived in this new way of working. Even though offices will still be around for a long time to come, we could be seeing the beginning of a shift into remote working as more than just an option.