WORKING FROM HOME: HEAVEN OR HELL IN THE HOME OFFICE?
Heaven or hell in the home office? For some, the home office job is common practice, but for most it’s a big adjustment. According to a survey by Yougov, one in five employed persons works in a home office because of the coronavirus. Many are now facing the challenge of having to completely reorganize their home office jobs. This requires willpower and structure. Because normally you spend your free time at home and you are conditioned that way. It can become easy to get distracted and – if you’re already at home – cook something delicious or finally hang up that picture that’s been sitting in the corner for a long time. Added to this is the technical equipment, which is not geared to a normal office routine, and the spatial situation at home. Because not everyone has their own room by a long shot. While singles in home office jobs are in danger of becoming lonely, families are often so turbulent that the working person longs for some solitude and, above all, peace and quiet.
The home office has become the number one workplace these days. It is currently saving lives. While “before” Corona there was still debate about whether the home office was a goodie for employees (from the company’s point of view) or part of the standard requirements of a modern workplace (from the employee’s point of view), in the Corona era it has become part of everyday life for many. There is no telling for how long many of us will now be sitting in our home offices. However, it is important to set the course now for “afterwards”. Staying right on it now, having a significant impact on the success of the company, and not being frightened. Do not fall into rigidity. Because one thing is for sure, it goes on afterwards. The better we all bridge the difficult time now, the more motivation and inventiveness we bring in, the easier and smoother it will be afterwards. We can also think and steer in the home office. With creativity, will and personal responsibility, it can even become a successful model, at least temporarily. We reveal a few tricks of the trade to help you master the changeover – whether you’re based in Berlin or Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart or Hamburg, or in a small town. Give yourself some time, because if you or a team member suddenly has to work from home, it will take time for everything to settle in. Planned workflows, a good environment and the use of IT will increase your productivity in the home office just as much as maintaining relationships. Human contacts are of particular importance in times of “social distancing”. If you neglect them, you will quickly feel lonely and alone. So plan time to exchange ideas, to talk with others. Preferably even via Facetime or video chat. Facial expressions and gestures are recognizable, a smile makes things easier even at a distance and provides inspiration.
WHAT JOB IS SUITABLE FOR A HOME OFFICE?
Not every job lends itself to being done from home. If we think of production or logistics, it often becomes difficult or impossible for those performing the work to do their jobs independent of location. For other jobs, such as journalists, online marketers or software developers, it’s almost normal to work at home. The virus now presents us with special challenges, so that even jobs that were previously located in the company should – or may – be done from home. Depending on how you look at it. Deal with the first emails at the breakfast table, then join the conference call from the couch. For many employees, the home office sounds promising and attractive. Companies often have a hard time with a home office. Corona is now giving many people the chance to try out this work model and experience the advantages and disadvantages of the home office virtually live.
MY HOME IS MY OFFICE – SEVEN STEPS FOR THE CHANGEOVER
Sometimes it’s the small steps that make a big difference. Of course, it would be pretty awesome if we could all get out the “big club” right away, free up some space, and outfit it with perfect technology and ergonomic office furniture to suit our tastes and the demands of a modern workplace. But you can’t. Especially not as quickly as we have to react now. So let’s devote ourselves to the things we can implement directly.
1. create space – set visual boundaries Create
You can also find a job outside the company that is recognizable as such. Ideally, you designate a room that will be an office for eight hours a day from now on. If there is no separate room to “repurpose”, you can also create visual boundaries with a screen or movable wall. As a brand new inspiration, we point here to the trend “sheds”. While men have long found refuges in garages or basements (can’t you work quietly there too?), now comes a new trend with “sheds”: your own cozy hut in the garden or on the patio, which becomes a self-designed retreat. The best example is UK journalist Hazel Davis (The Telegraph), who conducts undisturbed telephone interviews with celebrities.
2. powerful technology – good tool, half the work
Make sure you have an eye-friendly screen with high resolution and space for several programs open in parallel. You need to do more than answer emails! If you have been working outside your company on a laptop with a small display, treat yourself to a large screen at work. Video and telephone conferences are made much easier with a comfortable headset. Also, make sure to put a cushioning pad under your keyboard, because clattering is not an option at all in virtual conferences. Your Internet connection must be secure and stable, requiring at least 50 MB/s. In big cities like Berlin or Frankfurt am Main this is certainly no problem, but outside of them you should check your connection. Telekom offers a free speed meter.
3. it’s all a question of attitude – movement counts
With limited space, many tend to sit in the home office significantly more than they would otherwise. Change your posture as often as you can, work sitting, standing, or on a sitting ball, and walk up and down while talking on the phone. Stand up after every email you write. During small breaks from work, it’s best to get some fresh air. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Whether in the company or at home.
4. good daily planning- stick to it
Start each morning by creating a work plan. Let their personal circumstances and daily form factor in. Be sure to plan for breaks as well. If necessary, inform your family and partner when you are working and when you will be finished. This is the best way to limit interference.
5. maintaining contacts – the virtual coffeetalk
Together we are strong. Teamwork is not only possible in the company but also in the home office! Since the start of the crisis, for example, workspace provider Satellite Office has organized a short virtual team meeting every day to keep everyone on the same page and keep projects moving forward. There is a group chat where colleagues can exchange ideas. Additionally, take time for phone calls instead of solving everything by email, this strengthens the team feeling. Make a virtual coffee date to get updates. People who don’t see each other in the company need these arranged conversations much more than colleagues who work together on site. Because the virtual coffee break replaces the little chance encounters at the coffee machine.
6. clear rules for cooperation – punctuality is not an adornment
Clarify availability, communicate work schedules – whether by email or in person. Punctuality should be a given for home office jobs, results must be documented. Especially when many employees work from home, rules must be followed to promote team productivity.
7. make your work visible – learn from agile teams
Virtual Project Boards are more than a tool. For home office jobs, they are highly recommended. At its core, this is about (self-)organization in virtual groups. It is about the visibility of virtual work for other team members and about defined rules of the game when working together. A virtual “roadmap” is created. Software teams have been using Agile project management methods for years to strengthen collaboration, respond faster to market trends, and increase the speed of work. Now is the time to get involved with agile work.
Hopefully, with these seven tips, you’ll be able to use your home office time productively. But don’t think you’re alone if things don’t go smoothly at your home office job. Not everyone who can work in a home office wants to do it permanently. For example, the online community Yougov found that just under one-third (31%) of employed people surveyed who currently work in a home office said that the mixing of work and personal life was a clear negative. Just under 30% of respondents criticized the poorer technical equipment, such as the stability of the Internet connection or the number and size of the screens. Almost as many find communication with colleagues from the home office difficult. If you feel the same way, seek support. There are. Contact flexible workspace specialists, call and talk about options. There are services for handling telephone calls, there are rooms from which technically high-quality video conferences can be initiated and much more, which makes working in a home office much easier. Whether the home office is heaven or hell for you, you yourself ultimately help determine.
After a few weeks and thousands of e-mails from the home office, an unprecedented gratitude towards the company certainly occurs at some point for many. For technically modern workplaces, for a professional network, for ergonomic chairs and much more. And an anticipation of the “post” Corona time. Then we will appreciate the little things we have taken for granted. And we are looking forward to it!
Yougov is an online community in which millions of people worldwide exchange views, values, usage habits and brands. Link: https://yougov.de/news/2020/03/27/homeoffice-wegen-corona-nicht-alle-konnen-nicht-al/
Book “She Sheds” by Erika Kotites, publisher Knesebeck
Contact: Florian Wolf, Director Operations at Satellite Office,Phone: +49 30 700 140 120, Email: vertrieb(at)satelliteoffice(dot)de