Opinion

Our thoughts on working from home

March 20, 2020

By

Connor Ward

It’s come to our attention that many companies are working remotely for the first time. To you I say: welcome! 

It would have been better if you were introduced to it under, you know, nicer circumstances, because we’ve always been big proponents of remote work. For all these years we’ve been telling people to try remote working, but they’ve always had an excuse - “oh, it’d never work for my company.” 

You’ve got no excuse now, Janet.

I won’t talk about that thing that’s happening right now. In fact, I will only ever refer to that thing in this paragraph. This is the last you’ll hear of that thing. 

Instead I want to give you some insight into why we’re such a happy and remote team. This isn’t a list of productivity tips or tricks (there are already plenty of those posts knocking about), but rather a few ‘mantras’ we like to work by. 

Don’t be a stranger

Many find remote work lonely. Even I get cabin fever now and then – and I’m one of the loudest proponents of remote work going. 

Every morning we have a “standup”, or at least that’s what we call it. By definition, a standup meeting is meant to be short (because no one likes “standing” for too long), yet ours often runs close to the hour mark - and there were only 3 of us in it this morning. We talk about everything: cooking, politics, TV, memes - the list goes on. Sure, all this time in a non-work related meeting will probably give a productivity conscious manager a heart attack. But for us, it’s important: it could be the only proper adult conversation we have that day.

Trust one another

I’ve worked in remote-startup-land for so long, I sometimes forget that many workplaces out there are stuck in the 80s: micromanagers, corporate politics, endless productive quotas are alive and well. There are so many companies that won’t let their people work from home for one simple reason: “if I can’t see them, how do I know they’re working.”

I love this quote from Basecamp’s book Remote: office required that addresses this thinking head on:

“We’ll let you in on a secret: If people really want to play video games or surf the web all day, they’re perfectly capable of doing so from their desks at the office.”

It also misses the great opportunity that comes with working remotely: no distractions. Without the office, people can do deep, uninterrupted work. I personally find it so much easier to write in a blog post from home, in complete silence, than the old open-plan office I used to work in with the office joker to my left and the head of sales to my right (no offence guys).

Embrace the routine

We all need a routine. Trust me: without one, working from home will make you go insane. Before I went remote, I had to catch a train to London everyday. My morning routine had military-grade planning: hair at 0700 hours, shoes on 0715 hours and so on. 

But when I started working from home, this all went out the window. At first, I thought it’d be great: I could sleep in, roll out of bed whenever I was ready and fire up the laptop just in time for the morning meeting. Oh boy, was I wrong. 

I couldn’t get stuck into my work, but I couldn’t switch off either at the end of the day. I was like a zombie stuck in between. I’m not the only one who suffered from this, I’ve even met a remote worker who said she’d often forget to brush her teeth.

There’s a few solutions that worked for me: reading for an hour before starting work (like I used to on the train to London) and working from a proper desk. Some people swear by getting up, dressed and ready as if they were going to the office (including shoes).

Final thoughts

During these difficult times, the world of remote work has been flooded with new recruits, and with that comes a lot of fresh thinking. Thanks to people on Twitter, I’ve just discovered the infinite possibilities of custom Zoom backgrounds. I’ve also set the team up on Kahoot, an app that lets you run quizzes for your team. I’ve even heard from a colleague who has repurposed our company Google Meet account to organise yoga sessions with the new WFHers from his co-working space. It seems to me that now we're all working remote, we’ve got the chance to introduce a little bit of fun into our working lives.


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