Today is Shut it down day at Elastic, which means no work, no emails, nothing to be done. One can do whatever they want, except work. It is kind of a mandatory leave across the globe for Elasticians.
Before I joined Elastic, I had a little experience of working from home with my previous employers. I was a n00b and didn’t know much about working remote. Over the span of 5 years before joining Elastic, I might have worked from home for a maximum of 7 to 10 days.
As a fact, I never liked wfh much as I missed my colleagues around, chai times and usual work banter.
A Challenge, I thought
While I was wrapping up my interviews with Elastic, I realized, I was up for a new challenge as employees at Elastic work remote. Commuting to office was never a daily chore.
On my first day at Elastic, laptop, monitor and all work accessories came to my doorstep. I ordered home office essentials on sites like Urban Ladder, PepperFry. And so on, I never looked back.
What changed in my work life?
Commuting to office was not in day plan. Stopped eating out and cooked at home most of time (when not in travel). I ended up enjoying and working more.
The line between Work and Life became thin. Some good colleagues of mine reminded me of burning out, helped me and explained how I can be productive and flexible at the same time.
Is there a Work-Life Balance?
While I’m giving you a perspective of the last three years, I could feel my productivity at work and was contended with Work-Life balance.
But there are many reasons for this conclusion, processes and decisions that helped me feel better. You might want to give these a thought to help your employees/team make most of this entire WFH scenario.
Flexibility OR Strict Time Limits:
While working from home, with teams across the geo, your employees might feel no end to work. Keep in mind that either you need to give them flexibility or make it strict, that certain hours are working hours.
By flexibility, I mean ability to relax and do work in a time they choose OR work only in a specified time (9-5)
Reason being, with no barriers, work is never ending at times. And it is assumed that you’re always available at home (due to pandemic), it sometimes creates fatigue and unproductive-ness in your employee.
Many startups think that teams will be disoriented if work from home is made a norm. In my opinion, they can thrive in the long run due to WFH.
With in-person interaction, managing people is quite easy. In a WFH scenario, an elaborative and over-communication might be necessary. Everything should be drafted - team meetings, product reviews, important decisions, etc.,
Slack cannot be a decision making place and neither can one keep up on Zoom all the time.
Collaborative places like Google Docs, GitHub can be few good ones.
Mail is your best friend.
Note: Tools are not important, you can choose any with collaborative features. It is that your employees are making it a practice and feeling comfortable to complete the task are what important.
NoteTools are not important, you can choose any with collaborative features. It is that your employees are making it a practice and feeling comfortable to complete the task are what important.
Make space for informal fun:
Humans are social animals. We can’t live without occasional chit-chat about non-work things. Having this chitter-chatter helps a lot.
Either create a video channel for folks to do this or enable people create meetings to interact at their own free will. If you are a people manager, for better results, if you could do these informal agenda-less meetings, you’re going to have good team bonding.
During office time, we will have fun at cafeteria or chai-time to chit-chat more casually. Also, this is where, I feel team bonding happens. WFH is not helpful to a large extent for team bonding, unless one specifically focusses on it.
To conclude, the current covid-19 version of WFH is not something that is usual. Like I said, you should meet your team mates, huddle.
These are few suggestions from many that helped me. In my opinion, working from home is a boon, you can get more things done if you manage your calendar well.