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What we’ve learned in six weeks of remote work

Working from home during the pandemic has been an adjustment for many, to put it mildly. As our longest-tenured remote employee respected by clients and colleagues alike, Elizabeth Smith recirculated some work-from-home advice she blogged about several years ago. Her recommendations still ring true and have helped many of her R+K colleagues through the transition from traditional agency environment to the home office.

Elizabeth has always emphasized the importance of treating remote work like you’re going to the office. She shared these key pieces of advice:

  1. Treat going to work like going to work. Get up early. Shower. Get dressed. Make a second pot of coffee and walk into your office and stay there.
  2. Work harder. She was one of the first at R+K to work off-site full time and felt the pressure to make it work. “I often felt like I was working in a fishbowl during those early years,” she says. “But those experiences set the stage for being able to do this long-term.”
  3. Stay Connected. Make the extra phone calls to stay connected to your colleagues when you’re not walking the halls together. Build connections and nurture relationships.

A few weeks into our new world, we asked around at the office – well, on some video chats and in some Teams posts – what our people thought of Elizabeth’s advice and what they find most surprising about working from home. Of course, Elizabeth’s advice was unanimously spot on. On their new work environment, many colleagues had shared perspective.

Changed Mindset

Several people noted they have a new respect for working from home full time. They’ll have a different perspective when in the office, such as calling more and emailing less with off-site employees. They’re confident they’ll run meetings differently when at least one participant is offsite.

Technology Transformation

Video calls were a big topic of conversation among our staff. While we’ve had the capabilities since laptops started coming with built-in cameras, it’s a tool our organization just didn’t fully use. Maybe there were firewall issues with third parties. Some people avoided having to see themselves on camera and others didn’t exactly want other people to see their office or desk.

With the technology we’re finding in Teams or Zoom, it’s easy enough to blur and even change your background. A lot of companies have revised firewalls to make video calls easier. And most people have learned to ignore their self-video in the corner of the call screen.

Fluidity in Communication

Prior to the state of today’s world, a common misperception across all businesses was that working from home jeopardized communication – in quality and frequency. In fact, whether it’s the video calls mentioned above or simply increased frequency of communication, our colleagues have actually noticed an improvement communication. It’s not exclusive to project work and one-on-on conversations, either. There are even increased efforts to communicate agency-wide to ensure connectivity. Literally and figuratively.

While everyone is eager to return to normal, whatever that may be, we’re all confident that some improved habits will come from this process.

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