The pitfalls and joys of home office work

By Corina Köchli on 10.12.2020

The Corona crisis has also sent our employees back to the home office. A few months have passed since the first shutdown and for a short time a certain normality had returned. Our employees tell how they experienced the first shutdown in their home office.

Tuesday morning; today we work on site. One by one, the employees arrive at the office in Winterthur. The office fills with voices, here and there a short chat is held. We take our break together outside on the front of the office. “Simone, did you have a nice weekend?“ someone asks. The mood during the break is relaxed, some talk about the past weekend, others talk about current world happenings. It seems to be a normal working day. I like to think back to those moments when we still worked together in the office from time to time. Unfortunately, this time is already over again – we work from home again and meet virtually via Microsoft Teams. We took this as an opportunity to look back together on the first shutdown and everything it brought with it.

When the Federal Council announced the shutdown last March, we at Razoon AG were also forced to work in the home office. The whole situation raised questions and uncertainties. But the clear information and communication within Razoon brought a little light into the dark from the very beginning. So immediately after the announcement of the shutdown we switched to home office. Lukas Engel, our managing director, informed us via Microsoft Teams during the weekend and immediately set up the necessary meetings. The changeover went quickly and smoothly; fortunately, the technical requirements were already met before Corona. However, the changeover was not only a challenge on a technical level, but also on a personal and communicative level.

More time for family and leisure

One of the biggest advantages during this time was probably the great flexibility. For example, Cédric Burkhalter, one of our developers, used his lunch break as a sportive break. The reduction of the commute to work was also highly appreciated. Some could sleep longer or were at home directly after work. This time saving was particularly beneficial for spending time with their family or partner. This left enough time for breakfast and lunch together or for taking care of the children. Lukas Engel appreciated the slowdown that the entire shutdown brought. This gave him plenty of family time.

The bedroom becomes an office

With the commute to work, however, the physical separation of work and leisure time also disappeared. This was especially felt by those who live in smaller apartments. Thus, for example, the living room or bedroom had to be turned into an office. In order to be able to switch off in the evening anyway, everyone found its own way. Our project manager Alessandro Rizzi, for example, went for a walk after work. Roger Merz, one of our developers, and I found it helpful not to leave the laptop standing around open, but to put it aside closed.

Communication as a new challenge

In addition to the influences on private life, the corona situation also changed the daily work routine considerably. Distractions by work colleagues in the home office were perceived as less, because the inhibition threshold to contact someone via Microsoft Teams is higher than simply shouting something over the desk. Because you can't see if someone has time or not. On the one hand, it was possible to work on a topic in a more focused way and thus reach the goal faster. On the other hand, the interpersonal everyday communication in between and the non-verbal suffered a bit. “You cannot see from home, whether someone is feeling well at the moment, or whether someone is facing a problem. Spontaneous exchange with colleagues is also more difficult,“ continues Alessandro.

Another challenge were meetings via Microsoft Teams, as not all tools were available, such as the physical whiteboard. Nevertheless, it can be unanimously said that the collaboration worked very well under these circumstances. The daily video call at 08:30 in the morning additionally ensured that we could still see each other every day, even if only briefly, and that a mutual exchange took place. It was also nice that there was room for more personal things in this call. This way we still had the opportunity to talk about it when, for example, someone really felt cooped in at home.

Motivation by mail

Practically all of us had to struggle with the lack of motivation at one point or another during the shutdown. To counteract this a little, Simone Bösch from marketing and Lukas sent us little surprises by mail. For example, they sent us a fresh fruit box for our daily dose of vitamins and a “home office survival box". This consisted of various smaller treats and useful items such as trail mix, chocolate or glasses cleaning cloths, “to not lose track of things even in these times.“ These small gestures had a great effect on all employees, everyone looked very happy that day.

A brief look into the future

In our company it was already possible to work from home before. But the home office time proved once again how well this works. Above all, it has made it clear that certain tasks can be done better from home. “For all who want it, home office will certainly remain a few days a week. However, how we will do it in the future is not defined yet,” confirms Lukas Engel. confirms Lukas Engel once again.

Despite renewed restrictions and changes, we are lucky. For us it was and is now as well possible to work from home at any time without having to apply for reduced working hours, for example. In conclusion, it can be said that despite the uncertainties and restrictions during this time, there are many positive aspects to the home office. Nevertheless, after the first shutdown, we were all happy to be back in the office at least a few days a week and hoped it would stay that way. Now that things have turned out differently than we hoped, there is only one thing left for us to do: respect the measures and wait.

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