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What have we learned working from home?

by Jo Krause

Laptop on a desk in front of a window overlooking rooftops

With the outbreak of coronavirus, many people were forced into working from home. It originally seemed temporary, but as the reality sets in that this is a more permanent shift – what have we learned from nearly six months working from home?

Productivity

Prior to the pandemic, one of the debates about working from home was that productivity would decrease. Without the watchful eye of managers and colleagues, and combined with the distraction of partners, housemates, pets, kids, and our creature comforts. However, as it turns out, offices are also distraction factories – with co-workers dropping by, many time-consuming meetings and the dreaded commute – people have been able to achieve beyond expectations at home. So much so, that there have been companies across America forgoing the overhead costs of offices and declaring all work from hereon will be from home, even post pandemic.

With this in mind, many people will have set up their ideal routines working from their home offices. Whether it be logging on a little earlier or staying online a little later, being able to find areas of silence and solitude, or just the comfort of the familiar, it will be a major adjustment to have these things taken away. Many offices have decided to make A and B team shifts to make sure that returning workers are correctly distanced, with rotations leaving some working from home days still – so now it’s about choosing what works best in both set-ups and planning your week accordingly.

Unplug when the workday ends

According to reports done by Owl Labs, people working from home are likely to be working even more than the allotted hours and more than when they were working from the office. It’s about learning to disconnect. Turning off emails and switching your phone onto flight mode. It can be hard to disconnect when our home is our office as well as our sanctuary – but it’s crucial to the success and to avoid burn-out.

A good team can become great

The commitment and energy of teams working remotely can be pretty exciting. It is the removal of seeing each other every day in the office and the same sameness that can spawn from this regular routine that has forced people to get to know their team on a completely different level. A view into their homes, their partners, their lives – even their taste of interiors. Teams are overcoming a completely new set of challenges to what they’ve done before, and we are witnessing teams becoming more collaborative and connected than before.

Our undiscovered tech abilities

Without IT being just a quick desk visit away, the lack of standing meetings, collaborative rooms and general teamwork that comes from working next to one another, there has been a spike in technical abilities of even the most unsuspecting of colleagues! Our co-workers are finding their way around new systems, new ways of communicating. What may have started with a lot of, “You’re on mute, turn your mute off! No, now you’ve turned your camera off!” when we first started video chatting has now become the new normal.

Comfort dressing

One of the things that has changed drastically when working in the comfort of our home is office attire. Gone are the days of suiting up for ‘that’ meeting or putting on a pair of heels. We’ve become dressed from the top half, but leaving comfort for the bottom, the half not seen by video chats. But, will this spell the end of corporate wear? Are we looking to a more relaxed future?

Our office settings may have changed, with cats walking past meetings, or the occasional pop in from a kid or partner, but we can learn from this new adjustment. Not just in how to log off and disconnect but how to stay connected. Staying virtually connected in teams and with our colleagues and stakeholders.

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