One year on - what we have learned working from home
Last week we celebrated our 1 year anniversary of working from home. On 13th of March 2020, we closed our beloved office and moved our teams to working from home full-time. This was done to support the measures announced by the Irish Government to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We had been developing a business continuity plan and we were able to activate it quite quickly. Since then and now for one full year our team are 100% up and running across the globe.
2020 has been a really special year, as many of our Arekibians, partners and clients have experienced remote working for the first time. As Level 5 restrictions are still in place in Ireland, in order to better understand how our teams have been coping with the pandemic, we asked them to share their most and least favourite aspects of working remotely.
What are the biggest drawbacks of not being able to work in the office?
- Missing colleagues: Sharing the common workspace, in our case – our office, creates many opportunities to meet and share with the team. Be it the kitchen table, coffee machine, meeting room or the corridor. Now when we are working from our homes, those opportunities do not arise naturally. Instead, we should be actively seeking to meet the colleagues, especially those who we don’t work directly with, which is not always easy.
- Isolation, feeling lonely: Connected with the above, some Arekibians have noticed that when working in a siloed project environment, or on the individual tasks, it is now much easier to feel more alone or lonely, which can feel quite upsetting at times.
- No clear separation between work and life: The most common answer between the Arekibians was that with the switch to WFH it became much harder to decide when the workday is over. As there is no work commute and your living room is also your office, many are finding it hard to finish or distance from work at 17.30. Instead of closing their laptop at the end of the work day, decide to answer “that one last email”, being dragged into longer work days and shorter rest time.
What are your favourite things about working remotely?
- Spending more time with the family: As everything else, there are some positives with WFH too. For example, Arekibians found themselves spending much more time with their families and pets, which is definitely one of the best things about the lockdown.
- Less distractions, getting more done: Many Arekibians also noticed that they became much more productive. Being frequently distracted in the collaborative environment of the office is now replaced with planning, scheduled online calls and the ability to focus.
What are some of the habits that helped to improve your work from home experience?
- Go for walks: One of the things that Arekibians recommend you just do is – go for walks. Going for a walk can help you distance from work (after the workday is over), clear your mind and get some fresh air. Even within the 5k limit, Arekibians have been keeping the walking habit strong.
- Take breaks: When WFH it is very easy to get yourself booked in a parade of back-to-back calls, without taking a break. It would be a completely different scenario working in the office. You would take time between meetings to commute between the client’s and our office, take a moment to chat to a colleague, make a nice cup of tea, etc. Taking breaks may feel like a waste of time in the moment, but Arekibians remind that it also helps you be more focused, more productive and rested in the long run.
- Equipment is necessary: Another thing that you should prioritise to improve your WFH experience is getting the needed work equipment: the desk, headset, camera, a mouse, maybe a second computer screen and a good chair - all the tools that you would use in the office.
What took you by surprise?
- Time and money saved from commute, eating out and pubs: “I always buy a coffee on my way to the office, then buy lunch out, and go shopping on my way home. Sometimes we go out for a pint”. What doesn’t seem like a lot, quickly adds up if repeated daily. Arekibians are happy that we have been saving money on the little things while working from home, and yet we would be even more happy to be able to go for a nice after work pint with the colleagues now!
- How quickly we moved to WFH, and the empathy from the team: 2020 hasn’t been easy on anyone. Dealing with lots of uncertainty and stress regarding global health situation, Arekibians were touched and surprised by the support they have received from one another. Our 1 Year WFH learnings survey was filled with warm messages of the gratitude for the support Arekibians gave and keep giving to one another in such difficult times.
- New ways we kept finding to get and feel together: Even during the lockdown, we have continued to host various team social events. Last year together we celebrated arekibian birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, St. Valentine’s and many more. To celebrate 1 Year WFH anniversary, for example, we have had teams online game night, inspired by the famous TV show - “Would I lie to you”.
What helped you to stay motiviated?
Some little things that kept our team motivated and happy:
- Online shopping
- Check in calls with colleagues
- Arekibo social activities
- Check in calls with the family and friends
- Walks and exercising
- Watching something nice on TV
- Discussing something nice you watched on TV with colleagues
- Food takeaways
Our survey has shown that our teams learned a lot during their first year of WFH. It was great to see that Arekibians were adaptive, resilient and creative when acquiring new ways of working and finding small and big things (habits and activities) to bring more happiness into their lives.
What were your learnings working from home for a year? We would be eager to learn them, contact us or tweet us at @arekibo to share!