COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on workplace operations globally.
Work-from-home is quickly becoming the future because of COVID-19. It means cheaper office rent, greater flexibility, higher efficiency, and zero commute. However, it also comes with surprising downsides: it takes a huge amount of discipline, causes feelings of isolation and disconnection.
Our offices in Asia started working from home in February and our Silicon Valley office was quick to follow suit. All meetings have been replaced by conference calls, and we rely on chat apps to stay in touch. Our typical routines have been turned upside down. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: remote work can be unnerving and frustrating; and it wasn't working. Many of us are working from home for the first time and have to figure out how to stay on task in an environment that may not lend itself to productivity. The company had to quickly adapt to the new circumstances:
- Home Office Upgrades – We are accustomed to working on large monitors at the office and felt a little short-changed in home on our tiny laptop. The team are allowed to take their office equipments home and we saw productivity increase almost instantly.
- Asynchronous Communication – We've decreased our synchronous communication so the majority of the workday can be spent on focused work. The team shifted to more asynchronous communication so people do not need to be online at the same time or in the same physical location. We find that pings from messages become less frequent, and pauses between messages stretched allowing for deeper and more focused work.
- Over-communicate – Most people spend their days in close proximity to their coworkers, meaning communication is easy and effortless. All those nonverbal cues and side conversations about family, sports, hobbies, that helps bond a team are all out the window with remote work. We can consciously make up by intentionally over-communicate when working remotely. Make ourselves available and don’t hesitate to hop on a video call and strike up a metaphorical water cooler discussions.
- Structure – Without coworkers stopping by to talk about projects, many of us found ourself spending hours on the wrong task. We started using Standup Alice for daily stand up. This way we can avoid wasting time dealing with distractions throughout the call. We each make a list of tasks we plan to complete each day, with the expected time we will spend on them. We establish work hours and break times to help each other find out rhythm.
The fact everyone can so easily work from home is proof we might never need to go back again. How is working remotely working out for you and your teams? Do you have any genius tips for working from home? Let us know!