Working from home – the good, the bad, and the quirky.

Image by Joshua Miranda from Pixabay

Life in lockdown has undoubtedly looked different for all of us. For the team of the German-Australian chamber, it meant packing up our monitors and laptops and embark on the adventure called home office pretty much from one day to the next.

Counting ourselves among the fortunate ones, with our entire team still on board, the AHK team has been working remotely for over 7 weeks now. Not only has the novelty of working in our trackies worn off a bit, but there have been plenty of ups and downs during this time. But, has it been all bad?

Not according to my colleagues, who have been getting very creative during this time. For some, changing to working from home required a bit of improvising on the desk front:

The latest in height-adjustable office furniture.

Others used their time to pick up a new hobby, like running, honed their Arabic skills, started an online course or have been crafting like mad, with beautiful results.

For me, it meant, among other things, becoming a teacher overnight for my two primary school-aged kids while also changing roles internally. Our new Executive Director Christoph von Spesshardt went through the process of onboarding remotely – an experience you will hear more about very soon. It didn’t stop him from taking his kids into the office for a peek over the weekend though (I wish my desk – aka dining table – was that tidy!):

Using Microsoft Teams meant we were able to keep in touch with our colleagues, sharing news and showing off our various pets and interesting backgrounds. More importantly though, it meant we could share files, notes and ideas without any time delay, and collaborate effectively. Video conferencing, once dreaded by many, has become the new normal and, in a way, has brought our Melbourne and Sydney offices closer together.

A (non-representative) survey of our team has shown two things in particular – the importance of establishing a routine, and exercise.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Stick to the same routine you normally would – get up, get dressed, and have breakfast around the same time every day.
  2. Exercise!
  3. Take regular breaks.
  4. Keep you desk area clean. (Ha! Good one.)
  5. Drink lots of water and don’t eat where you work.

Many of us have used the time we are saving on our daily commute to stay (or get) fit – something we are all hoping to carry over into our new post-COVID 19 reality.

So much for the good stuff. Now for the more challenging aspects, which most of us found to be:

  1. The blurring of lines between our workday and our private life.
  2. Missing the face-to-face interaction with our colleagues.
  3. The lack of structure that lets the days bleed into one.
  4. Supporting our kids, while working at the same time. Long division, anyone?
  5. Tired dogs – how many walks are too many?

To counteract some of these challenges, our consulting team has started the very fine tradition of virtual drinks. During a virtual send-off of our interim executive director, Gert Rabbow, we also learned quite a lot about each other’s favourite drinks. Not only that – we also found out that we have a former barman in our midst! On a sportier note – with no actual races taking place at the moment, my colleague Mathias and I decided to run a half-marathon on the same day at the 30th of May.

It’s fair to say that we all learned a few new things about each other – something that’s quite vital when no face-to-face interactions can take place. It’s healthy not to be just a face on a screen, but to share some of our ‘real’ life while largely confined to our houses and apartments. We all can’t wait to see everyone again for a proper catch-up before too long – I just don’t think I’m ready for public transport just yet!

Over to you – what are you finding helpful or challenging during the lockdown?

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