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How to Succeed in Home Office – Productivity, Rituals, and Tools

Remote work needs to be well structured to successfully coordinate employees and projects from a distance. In this guide, we explain the challenges, how to manage them, and how to make home office productive for your organization.

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What this post is about

  • Well-defined workflows bring structure to companies that work remotely
  • Communicate transparently about projects and priorities to improve collaboration
  • Keep the company culture alive with virtual team get-togethers
  • Make sure the team has access to all essential tools so that nothing can stop them

At Zammad have always been working remotely! However, remote work needs to be well structured to successfully coordinate employees and projects from a distance. In this guide, we explain the challenges, how to manage them, and how to make home office productive for your organization.

Workflows and Processes

Teams that are no longer tied to one location suddenly face all kinds of new challenges. It has to be clarified who is working on which tasks at what time and how best to support each other.

The more clearly the workflows in your organization are defined, the sooner colleagues working from home will know what falls within their area of responsibility, what the priorities are, who they can coordinate with, and what results are expected.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your team know its tasks and what is expected of each individual?
  • Do they have all the resources and logins they need to do their jobs from home?

Transparency and Routines

People should always divide their working day into phases of concentrated and unfocused work. This applies to the office as well as the home office. Without your colleagues around, however, it's hard to know who is doing what.

That's why it is even more important to have transparency in the team and to keep track of which projects are being pushed and who is working on them. Keep your status up to date in communication tools such as Slack (see list of tools below) to indicate what work phase you are currently in.

Self-organized work from home requires more structure from all team members than they are possibly used to. While some can organize their time efficiently and even really flourish, others need to be supported a little more with guidelines and opportunities for exchange.

Besides that, there will always be moments where you need to coordinate as a team or in groups. For this purpose, it is essential to find regular appointments to exchange information at project level and within the entire team.

At Zammad, we start the day with a joint video call in the morning (a little warm-up helps at the start). At the end of the day, we exchange ideas on open questions in small rounds on specific topics.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does everyone understand what the current projects and priorities are?
  • Is it clear who will discuss which topics and how often?
  • Is there an agenda for meetings and video calls?
  • Are the topics and results written down for reference?

Isolation and Interpersonal Relationships

In a perfect world, home office works just as well and is sometimes even more productive than working in the office. In a study from Great Britain, employees stated that in the office, they worked efficiently for just two hours and 53 minutes per day. At home, however, they often found it easier to concentrate - but they faced other challenges.

Working from home (and especially during times of a state-recommended curfew), isolation can drive you crazy. You might miss being able to see and think about something other than work. To prevent that, here at Zammad we spend a virtual coffee break together, give each other little tours of the apartment or play a game in the video chat. If your team is open to it, then you might want to suggest something similar.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I do to recreate those moments of casual coffee break banter digitally?
  • Are there people who are particularly affected by isolation?
  • Are the current measures enough to ensure sufficient interaction within the team?

Tools and Helpers

To be able to work from home, tools for communication and collaboration are needed. Without them, it’s difficult to collaborate on projects or exchange information within the team. At Zammad we focus on open-source solutions that we can run ourselves and host on our own servers. And, above all, tools that we want to use in the long term!

Communication

  • Mumble:

    Data-saving and free audio software for talking online

  • Jitsi:

    Free tool for video conferencing in the browser via a shared link, without login, and with screen sharing

  • Sipgate / Placetel:

    Telephone systems from the cloud to provide corporate telephony at home - prices depend on the size of your organization

Collaboration

  • Zammad:

    We use our own open-source helpdesk to work together on customer requests

  • Onlyoffice:

    The complete open-source office suite with text, presentation, and spreadsheet editing that runs on your server - in the browser or as apps

  • Nextcloud:

    An open-source software that we use for our file sharing as well as our internal calendar or project management.

Summary

Clean processes, clear responsibilities, and a regular exchange can increase the productivity of your remote organization. Make sure you provide tools for collaboration and set the right expectations - then your team will be able to work independently from home. This way no one will be bothered if someone takes a walk during the day to get some fresh air and be more focused.

  1. Workflows and Processes
  2. Transparency and Routines
  3. Isolation and Interpersonal Relationships
  4. Tools and Helpers
  5. Summary
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