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What we learned as a high-tech company during the COVID

We live in interesting times, to say the least.

Being the CEO of a high-tech company from Silicon Valley I must confess I had my fair share of the stress of managing an on-site and remote company.

But the great part is that Octonius has a remote company culture and we are proud of that.

It lets us access the brightest minds from any corner of the world and build a vast cultural heritage.

Now, for some of our clients, remote work is HARD / Impossible to think of. I want to simply point out a few things that might help our clients’ employees be successful with this new experience.

The ‘Home Office’ Does Not Exist

Time is relative… Right?

That means time works differently at home.

Don’t try to replicate your workplace environment at home.

One of the many great things about 2020 has been the pace of workplace change. The percentage of people who work from home jumped from 31% to 62% in one month.

As a result, office workers realized that much of our work can be decoupled from location.

In a crisis, unprepared people cling to what they can. Many organizations tried to replicate the office environment and it was a MESS. People had to checkin on Skype for biz (a very obsolete product) or other chat systems at 9AM, leave at their usual hours etc…

A lot of stupid “expert” articles suggested wearing shoes and what not so that you don’t feel relaxed 😖.

THIS IS WRONG.

This is a missed opportunity. When you work from home, you don’t have to replicate the office environment. In fact, you shouldn’t. Instead, you should consciously structure your workweek according to the benefits of each location.

This wrong mentality comes from poor leadership and bad digitalization of a company.

While offices allow for easier socializing, they can also be distracting places. A recent survey found that when people absolutely had to get stuff done, only 8% preferred their workplaces during business hours. Another 8% said they preferred their workplaces outside of business hours — presumably when no colleagues were stopping by to chat about why the cheese had disappeared from the cafeteria salad bar.

Almost half (49%) chose a home office for buckling down.

There’s also the less-talked-about reality of physical distraction.

People are more likely to dress up for the office than a home office. But this means that many offices maintain a summer temperature that’s comfortable for men in suits and freezing for women in dresses and dress shoes that don’t allow for socks. It’s hard to do your best work when your fingers are turning blue.

Then there are the standard business hours, which really don’t work equally well for everyone. Plenty of people do their best work first thing in the morning, but forcing the 9% (or so) of biological night owls to check in by 9 a.m. makes little sense if there’s nothing that has to happen at that time; indeed, it might actually be bad for their health.

When life returns to “normal,” few workplaces will stay fully remote.

The most likely model will be a hybrid, with many people working at the office two or three days per week and at home two or three days per week. With this hybrid, the best option will be for teams to realize the upsides of both locations.

Work-from-home days can be structured for flexibility. Collaborating teams can set core hours (say, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and then let people work around those hours according to their work styles and family situations. Work-from-home days can center around individual, focused work, and in-office days can be more social — it’s easier to be relaxed about that salad bar conversation when you know you have time to get your work done. When they’re in the office, maybe people can take longer lunches and build the sort of trust that allows people to work well together even when they don’t see each other as much.

And above all, work-from-home days can absolutely allow for comfort and a “relaxed mindset.” I haven’t worn shoes in my home office in years. I can set the temperature to my happy place and wear whatever makes me feel best. People stay engaged when they’re making progress on challenging, meaningful work. Footwear (or a lack of it) has nothing to do with that.

A home office doesn’t have to replicate a traditional office — that’s why it works so well.

I’ve been working from home for most of the past decade, so let me just reassure you: You will get your work done. With everything to stress about right now, don’t stress about that.

In fact, those of us who work from home often find ourselves overworking. We tether ourselves to our desks and stress ourselves out more at home than we do at work. That’s why it’s important to make sure we take care of ourselves and don’t burn out while working remotely.

The most important thing you can do while working from home is assert boundaries so that you aren’t working around the clock.

Your boss cannot expect you to sit in front of your computer or be on Slack for 24 hours straight. If you try to do that, you will fall apart. Trust me.

Follow us for more tips on how to work from home and how to find your right balance of work and home.