We’ve now been working from home for almost a month. No face to face interaction with teams, no commutes, no canteen catch-ups or run-ins in the office hallways. We’ve been thrown into the unknown and for the large part, within Cpl, we’ve taken to it quite well.

Booking a meeting room is now booking a video call. Chatting at the desk is now chatting within a Group on MS Teams. Our HR team have come up with some great extras too including an online Easter bake-off, video updates from our leadership team and virtual Pilates classes.

Last week we even had a virtual leaving ‘party’ via Zoom for our teammate Gill (hence the wine in the pic!) which was different for sure but important to mark none the less.

This isn’t normal remote working, but it has forced us all to give it a go – whether we’ve always wanted to or not. Within our Group Marketing team, most of us had moved to working from home a day or so a week, so we had some practice. Other team members weren’t keen on the idea and so this was a first-time experience.

For me, I’ve always liked working from home and find I get more done from the relative quiet of my house. (I’m also listening to a constant stream of music and cooking for myself more than ever before.)

Of course, we all have different circumstance and different levels of noise or distraction. Within our team, the most common benefits were no commute, more time to do other things outside of work hours.

To mark a month of being apart, I asked around our team about their experience to date. Here’s what the team has learnt so far and some tips to help you through your own work from home experience:

General Working from Home Tips from Ferenc, Digital Director at Cpl

Asynchronous communication

One of the main benefits of being in the same physical space as co-workers is the ability to bounce ideas off each other and have face-to-face conversations.

In a remote environment, you can’t really rely on having face-to-face conversations, so tools like shared Word docs, Trello and MS Teams chat become crucial to keep in touch with co-workers. — tools our team already uses.

I learnt that whether I’m working remotely or from the office, this is a great habit to get into regardless. It respects a co-worker’s time by allowing them to respond when they’re available, and not when it’s top of mind for me or other colleagues.

This approach has the potential to introduce some lag, yet that lag can be kept to a minimum by setting short expectations for responses.

Assume the best intentions in comms

A video call is the closest we can get to face-to-face conversations when working from home. But through video call, there’s less visibility on body language, without which communication is hard. The best piece of advice is to go into every interaction by assuming the best intentions.

Team meetings on a daily basis

As an Agile team, we have been conducting 15m daily stand up meetings already. With everyone working from home this meeting became a foundation of our communication, fostering an environment where transparency and accountability are paramount.

Increased productivity

There’s a definite increase in team productivity since we all have started to work from home. No commute and less distractions enable me and my team to spend more time in “deep work” state.

Trust

Visibility does not equal productivity therefore it is essential that leaders trust their team in carrying out work duties, especially if everyone is working from home. I believe that if you’ve hired people you trust, trust that they’re working.

Disable notifications

Pop-ups from MS Teams, Outlook, other tools can cause a distraction in the day. In a work from home situation there’s a perceived higher expectation for people to respond in a timely fashion.

The best thing anyone can do, whether it’s a WFH or office situation is to disable these notifications. Not every request is urgent and they shouldn’t warrant an immediate response.

Exercise

Taking a 30-minute walk during lunchtime is a nice break in the day. It’s great for creativity and helps to structure the day.

Alison’s Experience Working from Home with her Boyfriend

Your overall experience

I’ve had a very positive experience with WFH so far. It is just me and boyfriend in the house so I’m lucky to have company but also plenty of quiet when we both need to be in the work zone.

The work-life balance is amazing. I have more time for exercise, cooking, baking, cleaning (the house has been spring-cleaned at least 3 times). For me, it’s like a time for no more excuses and to do all the things you wanted to or said you would!

Tips / learnings

  • Find a designated work spot. I work at the dinner table which I rarely sit at in normal circumstances. This way I find it easier to separate my workday from the rest of the day and I find it easier to get in the zone.
  • Do all the same rituals you normally would. I still have my designated coffee breaks and coffee chats at 11 and 3 which is the time I use to get back to messages or talk to my two virtual coffee-breakers Niamh and Louise
  • Try to keep within your set hours! It’s easier to let yourself work longer in the evenings or respond to emails outside of work hours. Power off your laptop in the evenings as you normally would and leave it in your designated work zone.
  • Have a proper lunch! Again, when working from home it’s easy to let your lunch hour slip away by doing errands, putting on washes or just eating at the laptop. Try to have a break during that hour – me and my boyfriend are taking turns making lunch which forces us to step away and have a break.

Your expectations of working at home versus the reality

As I would work from home about once a week already, it hasn’t been a real shock to the system. If anything, I find that I am getting more work done and eager to upskill/learn more, to make the most of my time. In a way I feel I have no excuse, being fortunate enough to only have one other person in the house with me I don’t have any distractions.

Main things you miss

The desk chats with my team – we always have such a laugh in work during our breaks. We try to have calls on our breaks sometimes but it’s less frequent.

I also miss the random canteen chats with people you wouldn’t necessarily deal with in a work capacity, but still always have a good chat with – like the Group Finance 3pm tea breaks.

Main things you like

No commute is really the biggest win of all! Now I can workout in the morning, but I don’t have to get up at 6am, as I would if I was in the office. Now I have time to do the things I would have always put off by blaming having to be the office – like exercise, baking, reading, cooking.

Louise’s Experience Working from her Family Home

Your overall experience

I had never worked from home before and thought it would be much more difficult. As I’m quite social I knew I would miss all my colleagues, but thankfully I’m adapting quite well. Work has been busy which has made the days go by much quicker and I feel really lucky to have a job at the moment.

I have gotten into a good routine which helps, getting up in the morning before work for a walk and having a designated desk to work from. To help me with the lack of social interaction I have a few Microsoft Teams video calls during the day. For me, this is very important if you are feeling isolated at home.

Tips / learnings

  • It’s important to create an office. This can even be a corner of any room. Set up your desk as you would if you were at work. I’ve done this and it means when I sit down, I’m concentrated, and it helps me with my routine.
  • I’d also recommend getting rid of any distractions (for me this is my dog.) I make sure I leave her downstairs when I’m in work mode.
  • Take breaks no one expects you to stay in a seat for 8 hours. Get up and move around every hour

Your expectations of working at home versus the reality:

I thought I’d be much lonelier, but thankfully I’m not. Having said that, I definitely miss my colleagues the most and having the chats at lunchtime.

Main things you like:

I have much more time in the morning to exercise as I don’t have to commute.

Neil’s Experience Working from his Family Home

Your overall experience

When it became clear that this would be the situation a few weeks ago I dreaded the thought of it. Working from home is a nice option to have but not a long-term solution that I would like personally.

I have found it more manageable than I thought but would still rather be in an office environment and choose when I want to work from home.

Tips / learnings

  • Make sure to write a list of priorities to work on either at the end of the day or at the beginning of the next day so that you remain focused on what to work on. This is something that works in all environments but is even more crucial when working remotely.
  • Take breaks throughout the day – even five minutes to get away from your screen – so that you can reset your concentration. I find that I am far more effective with my time if I do it.
  • Set up a quiet space to work from if you can – it is easy to be distracted when working from home if you are not used to it for a long time.

Your expectations of working at home versus the reality

Initially I thought that after two or three days I’d be sick of it and struggle to focus. I like the option of working from home now and again if possible but not for a considerable length of time.

In reality, I’ve accepted that the situation is what it is for the time-being so that has allowed me to change my attitude towards it. I think it works best by trying to adapt to your surroundings and find what helps you to be most productive.

Main things you miss

Interacting with others face-to-face more regularly. Although you can hold video meetings to get around this it is not quite the same. Face-to-face meetings are also more productive in my opinion. That and eating snacks that others in the team have made!

Main things you like

I save a lot of time travelling to and from work – it cuts out around three hours overall for me, between waking up earlier and commuting. This means I can to go to bed later and wake up later.

Anything you think you’ll do different once you’re back working in an office setting?

I’ll be more appreciative of being in an office and around a team where you can talk openly if needed and help break up the day. I know a lot of people who either work by themselves or from home on a regular basis and that is one of the biggest challenges they always mention – it becomes clear within a few days of working from home.

Are you working at home at the moment? What have your main learnings? Please do let us know via our social media channels.

It’s an uncertain time at the moment, but Cpl recruitment consultants are still available and can be contacted remotely. Our clients are still hiring too, and we have numerous roles available across most industries.

If you have any queries regarding job opportunities or hiring solutions you can contact info@cpl.ie We’re here to help.