We care about the well-being and health of our team, all their loved ones and society as a whole. The current corona crisis is demanding all of us to go new ways. Already last week Monday, we closed our office and started working from home. We are deciding week by week on how to progress in this unusual times.
Luckily, our technical set-up and working culture have always allowed us to work from home. So from the moment that the decision was taken, the “how” was very clear to us. With today’s blog article we want to give you some insights in how we practice remote working (+ what it actually is) and hope that you might find one or two ideas which will help you in carrying on business as usual, as much as possible in these times, as well. Enjoy the read!
Of course, for our customers, nothing changes. You can contact us anytime by phone, e-mail, our chat or via our social media channels if you have any questions or need support.
“Remote work” – A new buzzword in society?
We’d like to kick off with clarifying briefly the differences between “remote work” and “home office” as these two are currently on everyone’s lips. Remote work is a working model that allows employees to work from wherever they like. This means, they are not tied to a specific work location (the company’s office), but can decide from where they want to do their work. In this case, it does not matter whether it is someone’s home, their favorite café, or even an exotic island. This shows that home-office is one possible alternative for a place of remote working.
Advantages of an alternative working model are a higher flexibility, with a better balance between family and career and those who like to travel can work from every time zone.
As many of us will be staying in our home offices for the next couple of weeks and traveling can currently not be recommended, we will talk about working from home rather than working remotely in any other location in the course of this article.
One of the biggest misunderstandings in context of remote work is that we all just sit around in our pyjamas, searching for a new series on Netflix and doing our laundry. But how did this image get into the minds of so many people? Maybe it comes from the idea that if you can’t see someone physically working, how can you be sure that they’re working?
Fortunately, faith in humanity is not yet lost. Studies after studies have shown that employees, working in home-office are more productive than the employees who come to the office. For example, a Harvard Business School study measured employee productivity of employees at the US Patent Office who were allowed to work from anywhere. The results were very clear: employees allowed to work from anywhere were 4.4% more productive than their “in-office” counterparts. The increase of 4.4% of employee productivity represents up to $1.3 billion of annual value added to the U.S. economy. This, of course, is a general observation, which largely depends on the function and job description the individual is fulfilling.
We will be able to see the effect on the European market soon. By end of this year more studies, maybe jobs where you thought it would be impossible to work remotely will experience the breakthrough. It seems like a chance to reinvent the world of work all around the globe.
Remote working at CheMondis: how we structure our working days
CheMondis is a young and technically advanced company. This means that everyone is equipped with all the technical necessities to be able to work from home. In theory.
A well-structured and functional home office is an obvious choice for people working primarily individually. Many essential things can be done within your own four walls, the strict local ties are actually eliminated.
As we are organizing our work by the SCRUM methodology, frequent discussions are the crucial basis of our daily work. And this is the point where working from home becomes more tricky. It is essential for us to have the right tools at hand to structure and plan our work accordingly. In order to be effective, we depend on perfectly functioning communication tools.
For different purposes of alignment, we are using different tools, which you can read below. A crucial success factor is that anyone needs to have access to all of these tools at any point in time.
Our working routines
But for many of us, it is not the organizational part or digital infrastructure, which are tough. It’s more to get used to a new kind of routine. For example, spending a large part of your day alone at home instead of around your co-workers in the company’s office. Or trying to focus during a call with your kids running around bored, asking you to play with them. We asked some of our team members, who have spent already some experience in practicing remote working for some practical tips.
1.) Find a proper place to work
The choice of a proper working place is essential for your productivity. It would be ideal to find a place in the house or apartment that feels at least like a separate space – like “heading to work”. This will help you at the end of the day to mentally disconnect from your work. Make sure that the light conditions are good for your eyes and the seating is good for your back. And, ideally, that you can close a door when you have an important call.
2.) More is more when it comes to communication
A major obstacle in exclusively virtual communication via e-mail and chat programs is that the body language is completely missing. According to studies, 93% of communication takes place non-verbally, which includes eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, and accentuation. For successful virtual communication, this 93% must be compensated somehow to prevent any miscommunication.
A couple of tips which might help: Inform your colleagues when you’re really busy with something and can’t respond right away. When it comes to meetings and the need to have a discussion with someone it always helps to set up a brief video chat. We really recommend you to keep the video running during the conversation. Why? Because it prevents you and all other participants from doing something else at the same time.
Checking your Whatsapp, checking another e-mail, making a coffee. You would never even think about doing that when you’re in a face2face conversion. So don’t do it in video calls either. When chatting, use emojis and reactions to underline your emotions. Within the last week, we already noticed a huge increase of slack messages that we sent. The rule is: Over-communication is better than giving room for assumptions.
3.) Create space for social interactions
To forester the communication and to really know how your co-workers are doing, it helped us to create some space for social interactions – anytime and without any business-relevancy. We set up a “CheMondis-kitchen” channel in whereby to meet for a coke or a coffee and to have some non-work-related conversations. Exactly like you have it in the office when meeting your favorite coworkers in the company’s kitchen, just virtual.
On Fridays, we usually celebrate our renowned beer time at 5pm. We relocated this ritual into a virtual room as well. And in case you’re missing the lunch dates with your coworkers, we can recommend you “social cooking”. Just agree on a meal you all like to cook, move your laptop to the kitchen and turn on the camera. You’ll see it’s definitely more fun than preparing lunch and eating on your own.
4.) Initiate daily routines
The missing local separation of work and home can lead to becoming lazy. We’ve all been there. Nevertheless, in terms of productivity and well-being, we recommend to not neglect your daily care rituals. Get dressed, put on your make up, and read the daily news. Keep your daily routines to feel fresh and energetic to start into the day. Also, try to stay hydrated even though you’re not going to meet your coworkers in the kitchen.
Just prepare your lemon water and coffee mug on your desk as usual. When it comes to the lunch break – take the time! It’s important to switch off your mind and being surrounded by other topics for a few minutes. Additionally, physical activities shouldn’t be neglected. Take a short walk after lunch or start your day with a morning workout.
In a nutshell
In times like these, home office has become a critical component to all of us keeping up “business as usual”. Many essential things can be done at home. But we know that in many other industries this is not common and the current situation comes unexpected.
We hope that our tips will help you make the best out of the current situation and let you work from home happily and effectively. And keep in mind that the argument of decreasing productivity is rejected – you’ll see. Stay safe and healthy!
 Choudhury, P. , Larson, B., and Foroughi, C. (2019). Harvard Business Review.,  Mehrabian, A., Ferris, S. (1967). Journal of Counselling Psychology (31), pp. 248-252.
Now it is up to you
What are your experiences with remote working? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with our community? Do you have more questions? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Thanks for taking the time to read the CheMondis Blog.