Thomas Spoelstra, senior database administrator at OptimaData, looks back on almost two months of home working from his man cave. About virtual office doors, webcams still on, nice beer packages and wishes for the future.
I sit here at my desk in my home office and realize that for almost two months already we have been working in a different way than we are used to. On 15 March, we received the message from our management at OptimaData that we should, if possible, work from home for the time being. Personally, I'm used to that: I've worked from home for almost a year before. Moreover, I am the happy owner of a real man cave. (My wife considers it more a cavern, but that aside). So I have a good place to work, a good chair and above all peace and quiet in the house.
Polluting and neglecting
This morning I read in a national newspaper how we as homeworkers would pollute and neglect. That we shower less often than usual and even skip brushing our teeth for a day or two. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who's seen the videos of people - read: men - taking part in a virtual meeting in T-shirt and underpants, without realizing that the webcam is still on. This made me think about how I actually deal with this myself.
I've got a few things that help me. The most important one is: routine. The routine of getting up every morning at the same time, shaving, showering, brushing my teeth, getting dressed. I dress like I'm going to the business: clean and neat. After breakfast, around the time I would normally get into my car, I go upstairs to work. I start up my computer and get to work. Every morning I go downstairs around three times to get a cup of coffee. In the afternoon I enjoy lunch with my wife at the dining table, and in the afternoon we have another one or two cups of coffee. At the end of the workday, around the time I would otherwise have gotten in my car again to join the traffic jam, I turn off my laptop and go downstairs. The temptation to continue is great, and because of the silence I sometimes forget the time. But because a large part of my work took place remotely all along, it is not too difficult for me to close the 'virtual office door' behind me at the end of the day.
Not new, yet different
Although flexible and remote working is not new to us at OptimaData, we also have to learn to work together so differently on a full-time basis. Video calling with Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom is fantastic, chatting via Slack or Whatsapp is great, but the communication is still different than when you are in an office together. It is less spontaneous and the non-verbal part of the conversation also misses.
Fortunately, OptimaData is an employer that puts energy into its employees. Twice a week we have a virtual walk-in session where colleagues can meet each other and talk about everything, from work to the weather. Every Friday we hold a virtual Friday drink, and don't forget the nice beer package we got delivered at home.
The 'working differently' will remain for some time to come. Even if the situation slowly returns to normal, we will still have to deal with the 'one-and-a-half-meter society’ for the time being. Nobody knows exactly what this is going to look like and what the impact will be on companies, but it is certain that things will be different. I think that, even if the coronavirus is under control, we must continue to work together more consciously. Aware of our own vulnerability, but also of the possibilities that technology offers us.
Care about each other
It's a tense time, I too feel that tension every day. I sincerely hope that we can get past this period soon. But I also hope that working Holland will take something positive from this experience. Driving fewer kilometers is better for the environment, and it looks like our travel behavior will change permanently. But also the sense of solidarity that the corona crisis has unleashed, can stay. Care for the people in the healthcare and care for each other.
Other blogs with similar content: