Disclaimer: Not everyone currently has the “privilege” of working from home. People whose work is classified as “systemically relevant” continue to work as usual and may also need childcare due to closed schools and daycare centers. We acknowledge that this situation is anything but easy in the current situation. Therefore, we need to mention that we place the difficulties that the current situation presents for people in the home office above the challenges people face, including those in systemically relevant professional fields.
Anticipating this, we would like to provide some tips & tricks in this guide for all “newcomers” or old-established home office workers. Strictly speaking, we are all newcomers to the home office because the “home office” known up to now is not so easy to equate with the COVID-19 owed variant of remote work.
As a rule, we did not stay at home every day. We didn’t have to agree with our partner, who would use the office (if one existed) or use the kitchen or coffee table. We didn’t have to find new ways of “just checking things out” with colleagues since going to the office next door is no longer an option. And few of us have ever been in a situation where the children attend school at home indefinitely. And have to understand that they a) aren’t allowed to play with friends, and b) mom and dad still don’t have much time for them and don’t have to work.
Our top tips & tricks for working in the home office
No matter which guides you look into: it should be your room, isolated from other things that might distract you. The place should be furnished ergonomically. In most cases, this will not be possible at present.
- Nevertheless, try to find a fixed place for your work—ideally, a room whose door you can close for video conferences.
- If you have small children at home, it certainly makes sense to pack the essential documents in a box at the end of the working day and store them on a cupboard out of reach of your children.
- Positive side effect? You are less inclined to get back to work after dinner. Quite a few of us tend to work more these days than they would typically do in the office.
Restructure your days. Nine to Five will most likely not work in your home office.
- Print or paint a timetable. Look back at the last few days and identify times when you were disturbed: Does a rule emerge? Your children are hungry at similar times, the letter carrier usually comes between 10 and 11 am, […] Plan your in-depth work phases around this.
- Prioritize your to-do’s according to the time slots that open up for you. This usually helps to tackle the essential things in the morning. Not only because most people’s ability to concentrate is highest there. Suppose your children are still sleeping - great! Working hours without screaming for Mom and Dad. Make use of this.
- Communicate your time planning with superiors and colleagues and let them know at what times you can be reached. It may feel a little strange at first. But your colleagues will also a peek into your office first when your door is closed. Neither in your office nor at work do you want to be disturbed in inconvenient situations. Communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack are ideal for getting rid of “I’m at lunchtime,” “I’m out for the day,” “I’m in focus mode for two hours.”
Self-discipline is particularly crucial when working from home. After all, no one sits next to you and also works in a focused manner. Here are a few tips on how you can support your self-discipline.
- Dress as if you were going to the office in the morning. It helps you maintain a professional attitude during video calls with colleagues or customers and allows you to separate your free time from your work.
- Before you go to work in the morning, take a walk around the block. Imagine you are really “going to work” right now. As soon as you arrive home, your working time starts.
- Communicate with colleagues when you start your lunch break and commit to being available afterward.
- If necessary, introduce morning check-in and evening check-out with colleagues or supervisors. In this, you will tell them in writing or verbally via phone or video call what you would like to accomplish that day and report at the end of the day whether you have done so. An alternative is a daily standup. At edyoucated, we meet once a day via video conference and report to the whole team what we have done since the last standup and what is planned until the next standup.
The Corporate Culture
Our culture is an area that is incredibly close to our hearts. Because what threatens to be lost through remote work is the sense of community. The short small talk with the colleague in the hallway or at the coffee machine. The “Good morning! Isn’t the nice weather today?” or “What are your plans for the weekend? The good news is that this is also possible without a shared office. Since day one, at edyoucated, we have been working in three different locations. So a remote culture was the order of the day for us right from the start.
- Make fewer phone calls and more video calls. It is always helpful when you can see your counterpart. Much of the information is lost through the elimination of gestures and facial expressions.
- Plan time for small talk in meetings. A positive side-effect of working from home is that meetings are much more productive and faster. Nevertheless, plan 5 minutes on the agenda for the beginning of the end to exchange ideas. “What is the situation right now with you? Are your parents still healthy and well?” “Are your kids already driving you crazy?” Exchange among colleagues is essential and must not be lost despite being physically distant.
- If you use a communication or collaboration tool such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, set up an extra channel for small talk and “coffee talks.” It doesn’t always have to be professional and structured. Corridor conversations are essential for the culture and should also find their place virtually.
- Make an appointment with colleagues for a virtual coffee. Just as you might meet in the company cafeteria for 30 minutes, you can also do this via Video Tool. Maybe even plan muffin or donut Fridays with the whole team and meet virtually at 10 am on Friday to chat for a few minutes.
Home Office Including Children
- The most important tip first: Keep calm, do not take on too much. That won’t work anyway. The good news? Nobody expects perfection. In the current situation, hardly anyone is angry with you if your son bursts into the room during the video call or a “daddy” interrupts the phone call with the customer.
- One of our customers has told us that he has also set up a small home office for his daughter. If daddy “goes to work,” then his daughter would like that too. Arrange typical “home office” times with your kids - working time for daddy means school working time for the kids. Set up your own small “home office” places for your children. If possible, so that you sit in the field of vision of your children. Give your children the feeling of being “close by” despite the work.
- If you take over childcare for two, split up and structure your working days together. Mom takes care of breakfast with the children, while Dad can conduct his video conference during this time. It is precisely the other way round at lunchtime. Arrangements like this won’t always work out correctly, but it can still help find one or different undisturbed working phases.
- Reduce your guilt conscience a little. Are the children now sitting in front of the television more than you actually think is right? You can’t be everywhere at the same time. It’s okay to cut your family some slack - it won’t make you a bad parent.
All in all, we think we should see the positive things in this situation. We establish new ways of working, progress development, embark on a digital learning journey, and come together in a completely different way.
Would you like more information on the topic of “Remote Work at home”? We have created a learning track explicitly dedicated to the issue of remote work, which you can personalize according to your individual preferences on our edyoucated platform. Click here to get to the platform.