mastering remote work
I have always loved working at the office and enjoyed the routine of having a place to go to, interacting with my colleagues, collaborating and developing ideas that I continue working with. So, working remotely without a physical location hasn’t been easy for me. I was hit by a challenge for which I felt not prepared at all. What did the result look like? Constant adaption!
Lockdown presented many different challenges, so productivity often felt like the last thing I wanted to think about. Staying connected with my team and using all communication tools hasn’t been a big challenge, but I wanted to motivate myself to stay productive. Little did I know – the coming months would prove to become a period of innovation and adaption for me, in which I would learn a lot about myself and my ability to work remotely and productively.
Recently, my company has taken further measures to support all colleagues working remotely and we are actively adapting our culture and communication to it. Mercedes-Benz.io is continuously providing insights on the topics of mental and physical well-being, podcasts, videos and articles, guides for meditation and we are supported by ergonomic tips and tricks for home office. But at the start of the lockdown, the currently available tools and measures weren’t fully in place. Therefore, I invested some time into research and found out how to work from home more efficiently, which I want to share with you.
Surprisingly, today remote work no longer scares me. In fact, it has become the exact opposite! I can see a lot of benefits to remote work and I have adapted my lifestyle to it – as well as possible. Along with a personal ‘survival guide’, a few other things helped me making the remote office situation productive and fun. So, before going through my personal recommendations, here is a quick list of the tools that supported me working remotely:
- Location screens & ergonomic working posture
One of the most excellent perks of working at Mercedes-Benz.io is that you are well cared for as an employee. We even got our screen delivered to our doorstep! Having access to the best working conditions with e. g. an additional screen has helped me a lot. Sounds easy – it’s the simple things that make the difference.
- Tribe Space
Well, Mondays used to be my weekly highlight at Mercedes-Benz.io. Our Tribe Space is designed to bring MB.ioneers from 3 different locations (Stuttgart, Berlin, Lisbon) together and exchange company updates, changes and upcoming goals. The idea of replicating Tribe Space with a fully online and digital only version, at first, seemed a little astonishing to me. Today I have to admit that transforming our Tribe Space from a physical to a solely online event was, indeed, the best thing ever that could have happened! The new Tribe Space format brought all employees even closer together, it became something similar to a TV show that I look forward to participating in. The meeting format has surely been improved tremendously. Now, really everyone can attend the event, even from home and also on the road. Last but not least, we recorded an increase in participation and our meeting format is continuously being developed further by several colleagues.
- Weekly tacticals
Weekly meetings with my team members help me to maintain an efficient workflow. Our tactical is held once a week over Microsoft Teams and allows me to gain needed transparency about what the team has accomplished and to plan upcoming tasks and goals. Another tool we are using to organize our circle meetings is Glassfrog. These meetings, the tools and internal alignment help me focus on most important topics and using the available working time and energy wisely.
- Slack activities
Slack is a center of the company’s communication. There is something for everyone, with tons of channels for different circles and fun groups dedicated to MB.io dogs, women of MB.io, music, movies, photography etc. At Mercedes-Benz.io there exists tons of slack activities one can get involved with. My personal favorite is #randomcoffee. MB.io Slack connects you with a random teammate you mostly haven’t talked to, and you get to know each other over an online coffee meeting. Isn’t this a fun way to network?
- Social Media
I simply love our social media channels! From social activities to fun dog posts, you can find a diversity of creative content online. My all-time favorite is the #remotainment post on our Insta channel, where MB.ioneers have shown up with creative ways to survive the home office situation.
By the way – beside the Insta channel you find our Facebook channel here, and our LinkedIn channel here. Let’s stay in touch!
Effective communication and team activities have helped strengthen our tribe spirit, especially during the start of the critical home-office situation. But apart from this, I struggled with productivity, staying motivated and have been particularly anxious about retaining a positive state of mind. My concerns were valid, but after working on each of them with these tools and my ‘survival guide,’ I no longer worry about spending hours in the home office. Nowadays, the longer I spend working remotely, the more I can see the benefits. I even have the feeling that companies will actually get a lot more out of the home-office situation in the near future, in terms of and for their employees.
My personal survival guide for being productive in home-office:
- Practice planning
Writing all the tasks down may sound time-consuming, but it saves a lot of time during execution. And with time, creating lists and prioritizing tasks becomes a habit and doesn’t need additional time. One of the techniques that revolve around this is ‘Eat that Frog’, where you deal with the most demanding task and then deal with the rest of the tasks.
That technique made me quicker, led to more efficient results, less fatigue, and a stronger sense of accomplishment than finishing simple tasks. This technique makes prioritizing easier but is also impact-driven. Achieving little tasks energizes and motivates me and helps me gliding through the rest of the day since I am now finishing the most difficult tasks at first.
- Take strategic breaks
Meeting deadlines and being productive at the same time has been very challenging for me, especially during the lockdown when you are locked in the same room and have nowhere else to go. Having a feeling that I have endless time to get things done, I sometimes spent precious work hours on distractions. But at some point the necessary duty of care luckily caught up with me after all and I found an efficient way to tackle my never-ending to-do list.
- Dive into the Pomodoro Technique
As tasty as it sounds, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management system and helps people to work with the time they have – rather than against it. This technique works by dividing the workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks.
And the five-minute intervals are known as Pomodoros. After about four Pomodoros, you take a longer break of about15 to 20 minutes. This technique helps me achieving my tasks within the given deadline by instilling a sense of urgency. Additionally, the breaks cured the burnt-out feeling I had towards the end of the day. Try it out for yourself, it actually works!
- Decorate your home-office
I loved working at the Mercedes-Benz.io Berlin office. Large windows, open spaces, sunlight, green plants in the office space always helped me being productive and induced a sense of relief at the same time. During the lockdown, I made sure that I bring the same feeling to my home office. I tried to define a work area. I moved my desk next to the windows as brighter atmospheres help induce analytical and evaluative thinking. Also, decorating my work area with green plants helped me recover from demanding activities and brought aesthetic appreciation and a sense of calmness.
I’m so looking forward to getting back to the office! But I also view this time working from home, as a learning experience and a challenge. The lockdown, the last year and the recent months were characterized by constant adaptation for us all. We keep on kickstarting new ways of working and transforming Mercedes-Benz with customer-centricity and agility. We keep on translating input from our customers into outputs of digital experiences, such as the Mercedes-Benz worldwide website – currently we do this completely from home.
For me – the global pandemic is nothing less than a constant journey of adaption and innovation. At Mercedes-Benz.io I learned to say: ‘SCREW IT, LET’S DO IT! ’
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