Working from home — insights from Punkt.

Hello world, we’re back!

For the last few weeks we’ve been transitioning to working from home and focussing on the behind-the-scenes elements of Punkt. Some of us have worked mainly from home for years, while for others it is completely new and has required some substantial adjustments.

Working from home (WFH) has been on the increase for years and even when the lockdowns are eased, employers large and small will be building it into their permanent business systems.

Working From Home Post-Pandemic — The New Normal?

From now on, whenever there’s some kind of interruption — whether it’s an extreme weather emergency or a child who needs to stay home from school — the question will be not “Can you work from home?” but “Here’s what we’d like you to do while you’re working from home.” So it really is worth investing time and energy in getting it right.

A whole cottage industry has sprung up recently, offering WFH advice. Here’s our contribution, aimed at employees, employers and freelancers alike.

Working From Home Now — The COVID-19 Challenge

* By far the most important point is this: as well as keeping away from the physical COVID 19 virus, don’t get infected on-line. Find a couple of reliable sources of information, particularly covering local movement restrictions, check them once a day (preferably while wearing a mask), and leave it at that. Similarly, think twice before increasing general exposure to social media. Click for your deeper self only.

* Consider reducing your viewing of Internet news to zero, and subscribe to an in the real world newspaper (ITRW) newspaper instead. (It is an emergency, after all.)

* Create a good workstation. Even if it’s just the kitchen table, lay out everything you’re likely to need during the whole day, neatly, and put it away again in the evening. Make a ritual of it. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated desk, make sure that it’s a charming place to be.

* Create a good TV studio, if you’re making video calls. Even if it’s not so important for your particular job, there’s nothing wrong with making a good impression. Make the background reasonably elegant; place a piece of board behind you if necessary. Get the acoustics right, for instance by hanging up dense fabric to reduce echo, and consider investing in a good microphone and headphone. Dress in a way that works with your background (avoid white-on-white, for example), and keep a mirror handy. Perhaps do Dress Up Friday.

* Get the I.T. tech right, so that you can be reliable and relaxed.

* Mix things up. Work in different rooms. If you’re disciplined, sit on the sofa sometimes. Use a random piece of furniture as a standing desk.

* Accept that there’s going to be a productivity drop. Maintain a good level of communication, so that everyone knows what’s happening and why.

* There’s going to be a lot more emailing when working from home. Now’s the time to ensure that email subject headers are well chosen. Remember that they are likely to be sitting on someone’s computer for a very long time; select a subject header that will work as an archiving title in years to come. Less “Figures for tomorrow” and more “Sales figures, March 2020”.

* Try and maintain a physical connection with your workplace. If somebody on your team has a birthday, try and arrange for everyone to send cards etc. via the office — in time for them to be forwarded. Or even a shared card, with signatures posted in (or scanned, emailed, printed out) and glued into place. Employers would do well to invest in tangible things like a weekly newsletter, nicely printed, summarising how things are going. And preferably go further, providing funds for tech purchases. Also, we can all send postcards.

* Make phone calls. They’re often much more efficient than emailing, and always more personal. Landlines are still the best: they’re distraction free and they provide immunity to the problems with mobile coverage that have been occurring recently. They feel more professional, too. (And if you’re in your twenties and find phone conversations a challenge, fix that.)

* Make phone calls outdoors (if permitted). If the streets are reasonably empty, or you’ve got a garden, take a phone and notepad outside from time to time.

* Look at distant things every few minutes, even if it’s just clouds.

* Keep everything spotlessly clean: screen, keyboard, phone, desk. It’s a good way to feel more powerful than your job.

Originally published at www.punkt.ch.

Elegant technology for the 21st century.