Home Office Starter Kit: 10 Tips for Remote Work
16 Mar, 20204 min read
We are digital natives and the home office is our natural environment. Also, our work spreads across many continents and time zones. This has a lot of benefits:
- we can basically work from wherever we want
- we can schedule our time like we want
- we don't need to rent expensive office space (for internal and client meetings we use shared work spaces)
- we save time by avoiding the daily work commute
- we can employ talents from all over the world
Despite the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we can keep our business running normally.
In this article we want to share our experience on how we optimised our remote workflow over the years.
1. Company culture
Establish a healthy and open company culture, which is based on respect, trust and self-responsibility. Be transparent and give your employees access to as much information as possible. This is perhaps the most important and also the most difficult tip to follow, as the culture is strongly influenced by your team. Therefore, suitable candidates must already be considered during the recruitment process.
Plan your tasks for the next day and schedule your time around this. Start your work with a clean desk and a clean computer. Close your tools, tabs and browser when you're done. Divide and conquer, so you can finish your tasks in one work shift. That helps you to get started with new tasks without reminisce about the day before.
3. Regular team events
Even if you don't see each other on a regular basis, it's nice to meet each other from time to time. For instance, conferences, hackathons, sport activities or parties suit for such get-togethers.
4. Work environment
You should feel comfortable at your workplace and be able to access everything you need. Take care of natural light, an option to get fresh air quickly, a healthy lunch, good power connection, fast internet connection, a big enough desk and an appropriate noise level. Also, choose your equipment carefully. Do you need a big screen, a portable laptop or both? Do you need a tablet for quick digital notes? A professional microphone and webcam will lift up your communication experience.
Keep in mind the basics of an ergonomic workplace when setting up your home office. Place your screen at an appropriate angle to the windows. Optimise your screen height, distance and position. Take a look at this article by Apple, which covers the most important points: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205655
Try to separate these two life areas as much as possible, as it will help you to get focused when approaching your work tasks. Separation can happen in many ways:
- locally, by using a separate office room for work
- time-based, by establishing fixed working hours
- technically, by turning off all private notifications and other distractions
7. Asynchronous communication
Establish an easy and secure way for internal asynchronous communication. It should cover private and group chats, multimedia and emoji support. We use Slack for internal communication, where we have generic and project-specific channels. Some of them automatically notify us about new events so that everyone can get a grasp on what's going on. You can always mute or leave these channels, if they are not relevant for you. Slack is our favourite team messaging tool because of its rich UX, integration support and ease of use. There are many alternatives available as well, such as the open source software Mattermost. That one provides similar features and the ability of self-hosting: https://mattermost.com/download/
8. Synchronous communication
Sometimes it's easier to explain something in speech, video or through remote access. That's why you should provide an easy way for synchronous communication between your team members. We use Slack and Google Hangouts for calls and AnyDesk for remote access.
You should enforce a strict security policy. Educate yourself and your team on common types of cybersecurity attacks and hacking. Thus, using clean devices, safe networks (or VPNs) and being careful with unknown files, mails and websites is the bare minimum. There is a playful quiz by Google, where you need to guess if a mail is valid or phishing: https://phishingquiz.withgoogle.com/
10. Dependencies and blockers
When you work in a team with varying locations, work times and reachability, it's important to prevent anything that could cause the individual to pause his work. We are big fans of a flat hierarchy that enables every team member to take on important responsibilities. We also share access to essential information and knowledge, so that we benefit from each other instead of depending on each other.
This article was an overview of our remote work methodology and most important tips for home office. This could be your starting point, but as always, you should observe and adapt, so you can find the best workflow for yourself.
In short, it's a new attitude to work with less meetings, bureaucracy and dependencies, but more of what matters: craftsmanship. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about remote work, home office and automation.
This article was also published on Medium.
Written by David Bochan