In the run-up to this blog article I thought a lot about it and, like many other people perhaps do, I first looked on the Internet to see what has already been written on the subject.
Of course I found a lot – articles with tips & tricks, posts about privacy & information security, but also information about regulated working hours, breaks, and that you shouldn’t forget to go outside sometimes. All things that, in my opinion, apply equally to office work. Which leads me to the question: What is it that actually makes working in the home office so special? What works well and what works poorly? How do you keep in touch with your team colleagues? And: do I even have to wear something proper?
Home office – as unique as you and me
If one can make a judgement about all these tips and life hacks at all, then perhaps only that everything is right and wrong at the same time. My conclusion from this: It is just as individual as in the office. There are different teams and team sizes. There are open-plan offices and individual rooms. There are loud, “buzzing” working atmospheres, but also concentrated, quiet teams. Everyone has their own work experience. It is then just as individual (and perhaps even more so) in the respective home. Some have a lot of space, others have to make do with little space. Maybe it is possible to work on the patio, maybe you have to hide in the most uncomfortable basement room. Some people may even have the possibility to use their own furnished room – a real office. There is then either little ambient noise or you are constantly interrupted, for example because your partner suddenly stands in front of you and says things like: “Can you do this and that? Since you’re here.”
Three conditions for it to work
In my opinion, three things in particular are crucial for successful and satisfactory work in the home office:
- You have to want it and be open to the fact that it is a new work situation.
- The employer must allow it and also give you a certain amount of trust.
- You need the necessary equipment, like notebook, headset, internet connection, etc.
In my case all three conditions are fulfilled. I think the concept is good, I have the opportunity to do so through my employer TÜV Rheinland, and I have been given modern equipment that I need in order to effectively carry out tasks from home or participate in telephone conferences. I am very happy to have TÜV Rheinland as an employer who not only allows this idea, but also welcomes, promotes, and makes it technically possible. The only thing I have to provide myself is a medium-sized Internet line. TÜV Rheinland provides a stable VPN connection (Virtual Private Network) – so that you can also navigate securely in the company network – and ensures that every meeting can take place with software solutions such as Skype for Business.
Solutions for the home office team
In times of the corona crisis that we are currently experiencing, the proportion of those who work in the home office either voluntarily or involuntarily has certainly increased significantly. And I think that is a good thing. “Social distancing” is now the order of the day. TÜV Rheinland attaches great importance to the health of its employees, as our CEO recently emphasized again in a video message. And that’s why working in the home office is currently highly sensible for a large proportion of our colleagues. I myself work in the TÜV Rheinland Newsroom. It is absolutely necessary to make arrangements, often at short notice, on current topics – such as the topic of Corona, on which I believe excellent communication work is currently being done. The fact that we are all currently scattered around our home workplaces means that we need to rethink our approach. The short-term solution: We conduct a comprehensive telephone conference twice a day (with more than 20 participants) and have set up a Corona hotline and a Corona diary in addition to all other tasks, which is published on http://blog.tuv.com. A big praise to the whole team at this point. And praise to the company that promotes this team spirit.
Peace – a real home office advantage
I can only speak for myself and say that it works really well for me. Since I am a fan of concentrated quiet work, as it was always called in the past at school, I am currently drawing a lot of positive conclusions. I “only” have an untidy basement room at my disposal, but at least I can close a (heavy iron) door behind me. For example, when it comes to the pure production of texts, I notice that my output is much higher than in the office. There are almost no interruptions and as a person who likes to work in a focused way, I notice how my own productivity is increasing. I can get straight to work and start writing without having to travel to work and without having to talk every morning. And that has worked well so far. But I also think it’s quite possible that if I now work in isolation for a longer period of time in the days of Corona, I would very much like to go back to the office and look forward to seeing my colleagues again.
In my internet research mentioned at the beginning I found a publication which I liked very much and which I would like to quote here. It is a tweet by Annette Walter (@annetteoderso), which I found on http://www.twitterperlen.de in the category “the most accurate and honest tweets about working in the home office”.
It says, “Home office is cool, but this cafeteria sucks.”