Thinking March 16, 2020

How to work better from home
Tried and tested tools and tips from our team

Design Group Italia
Team smart working during Covid-19 quarantine

After a few weeks of working from remote due to the coronavirus epidemic, here are our tried and tested practical tools and thoughts on how to work better from home:

Communicate – even more than usually

We’ve done check-ins on all levels – and across – of the company to make sure things are moving. Teams have gone through projects to anticipate problems, work things out and plan for the future. In some teams, weekly stand-ups are done twice a week now. Others use WhatsApp groups and Skype chats.

Make use of smart tools

We already had multiple smart tools in place, from Slack to Teams to UserBit, a user research tool and Miro, an on-cloud tool like an illustrator for multiple people to collaborate. Some of them were initially adapted to collaborate with our clients. Now, they help us work together. In addition, we use an app called Tandem to replicate the social life of an office and encourage some of those informal conversations, like those in the corridor or around the coffee machine.

Know thyself

This applies to most things in life, and is relevant here as well. We’ve found that some people don’t mind being alone and easily self-direct and self-initiate, while others function best in teams. Know how you (and your team) create your best work, so you can help each other get there.

Be as meaningful with your calls as you would be with your meetings

Even during a lockdown such as this, it’s completely possible to reach out to all continents in one day from the corner of your own living room. Doing so, however, may not be wise. Just like too many meetings, days full of conference calls most likely aren’t, either.

Working from home can be more efficient

Working from remote obviously means losing some of the richness of the social interaction, but done right, there can be a greater sense of efficiency in concentrated work – and even meetings, as people won’t talk over each other, and you must really concentrate in order to hear the other party properly on a call.

Follow a schedule

Generally, we’ve found it easiest to replicate the office hours when working from home. As the schools in Italy are closed too, parents may need to be creative in adjusting their schedules accordingly. This may mean work shifts during naps or taking turns with the partner.

The little routines matter a lot

Working from home has taught us how adaptable we are to whatever comes. Surprisingly, the little routines that get you ready for the day – make up, getting dressed – are very important to many of us, even if the office means the kitchen table.

The workspace plays a role too. A calm place for concentration and good ergonomics are important, of course. Luckily, the Italian climate also allows us to also work from the balcony to get some fresher-than-usual air.

Know when to leave the ‘home’ office

We love what we do and have noticed that it’s not uncommon to linger by the computer later than usual. The commute from office to home is a clear ‘switch-off’, and for many of us, also a brief moment for ourselves. When the home is the office, this doesn’t occur naturally. Turn off the computer at the end of the workday.