This article is part of The 100 Days Offensive.
Now that we all work from home: How efficient is the home office? Are we more or less productive? What are the main hurdles?
For myself, I am unsure. Some things seem easier and faster here, but with no kids I am in a privileged position concerning the ability to concentrate at a task. Working with texts is significantly improved, Emails and Tickets take less time of my days though the volume has not decreased. On the other side I only save 20 minutes commuting time per day which is less than most colleagues.
Communication is, of course, more difficult. Partially it can be attributed to me and others not being familiar with doing everything through phone calls and video conferences. Though it also speeds up things (especially when you can avoid a long distance travel), it is harder to get points across. To verify that everyone is in agreement is as fast as ever, but the more contentious a debate is, the more difficulties arise due to the form of communication. It is far easier to become angry with a voice or with an image than with a real person.
I found out that I can partially mitigate the negative impact on communication by careful preparation. Making sure that everyone is aware of all points, having your thoughts already structured and perhaps as part of an agenda significantly improves online meetings. Se my remarks on day 3 concerning that. Bur preparation comes at a price in terms of time.
With the home office comes a tool chain. In my case Microsoft Teams. We started using it for six months before the Corona crisis. But we were slacking. It was more of a game. Those of us who had customers with heavy Teams usage saw more of it than others, but overall we could have done better.
Since then, there hasn't been a single day I did not learn anything new about Teams. There are things I really appreciate like the planner. But there are also issues that drive me crazy. There is no proper "push-to-talk", changing the tenant is slow and tedious. But most important: Teams does not like the love it is currently getting from all the users around the world. It has not been the most reliable and stable platform lately.
Though I consider Teams to be an asset for my work, I also have to cringe at the thought how great this tool could be when it would complete the whole nine yards and not stop after 7 and three quarter.
I am not the most social person in the world and do not miss the idle talk. But there are people that will really feel the hit. Getting hold of the colleagues you need to talk to has been easier than expected. Everyone was doing his/her best to be reachable. But the multitude of channels to communicate sometimes also creates confusion. We are still in the early stages of adoption of the distributed workforce.
Overall I can say that I am not as effective as in the office at the moment. I work more time in total to achieve the same output. The extra work time is more than the commuting time saved. But I also see ways to optimize things and improvements when are better adjusted. If the crisis lasts as long as I expect, we will probably become more efficient at home than we have been in the office.
I would welcome feedback on how the home office is working out for you. Please let me know!