Home Office like a Pro

When working from home becomes routine. In an interview, two Merkle colleagues talk about how they experienced working from home before the quarantine and what needs to be considered.

For Uli and Patrick, the current status of working from home was absolutely routine even before the quarantine. In the interview, the two tell us about the tips and tricks they give us "newcomers" on the subject of working from home. What has changed at Namics in recent years? Has the Home Office become more "user-friendly"? Which rituals have proven to be effective?

How does the current situation compare, especially for you, to the way you work from home? And do you have the feeling that the working relationship with colleagues via hangout has rather improved or worsened?

Patrick Schneider
Patrick has been working in the home office for 2.5 years

Patrick: Since I have been working in my home office for 2.5 years, there is currently no big difference for me, except that the VPN connection is a little busy from time to time. Apart from that it's the same as on normal working days. With the exception that the children are already ready if you want to start early.

The cooperation has improved in the sense that it is more pragmatic and goal-oriented via Hangout Meet. Although the fun is not lost there either, you are still a little more focused.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Ulrike Lutz
Uli has been working in the home office on her farm in beautiful Schwabenland for 3 years

Uli: Currently, I see my colleagues more often, be it in meetings or in the remote workout "Quarantine Fit" - I am happy about that. Otherwise, there is not much difference to my usual way of working, as I am used to working from home.

I also have the feeling that cooperation has improved. There is more often a spontaneous project exchange. All colleagues can be reached very well even from home. I recommend arranging the availability of the permanent home office with the team beforehand.


What has changed at Merkle in recent years? How do you perceive changes in remote working compared to two years ago?

Uli: I don't perceive any change. I really appreciate the opportunity to work from home at Namics and I think it can be really well implemented within the teams. I can well imagine that the possibility of working from home could become even more common in the future.

Patrick: In our department, sales and restructuring have not affected remote working.

What are your tips and tricks for not becoming lonely at home?

Uli: As often as possible, remote exchange with colleagues via video chat instead of text communication. And spend your free time with your family. The best place to do so is on fresh air, on a walk or while practising your favourite hobby.

Patrick: Since there is no need to go to the coffee machine and therefore no social interaction, I often try to get in touch with colleagues via video chat, even with relatively trivial problems. This helps to create a visual effect, which is often underestimated in text-only communication. Also the chatting at the end is a little more detailed than in pragmatic text chat. Meetings should also, if possible, always be held with video chat in order to maintain this presence permanently.

How can you ensure that you still remain in personal contact with colleagues?

Uli: I regularly inform my colleagues about changes in the project and we play them through remotely. Regular meetings to exchange ideas and to see the colleagues again are very important to me.

Patrick: The topic of collaboration is very important in our team, as it is elsewhere. We often need to know who has done what and where. Documentation is very important in this area - especially to see when something has been done. Besides the normal tickets in Jira, I keep a Git workbook, which I make available after every working day. This way my colleagues can see what I've done - can search the system for keywords/server/etc. and are aware of what's going on. In this area communication is essential - everything should be mentioned/announced, ideas should be thrown into a chat.

How do you deal with stress at home?

Uli: The office door remains closed. Workplace is workplace no matter whether in the office or home office. Always keep a stoic approach to the project. I try to separate work and private life as much as possible to avoid stress. I also think carefully about the place where I work and the space for non-work.

Patrick: Here the clear regulation that the working area also remains a working area helps. Although it is possible, especially now in the current COVID-19 situation, to get in contact with the children more quickly, it should remain the exception.

Do you follow a fixed daily routine at home or does every day look different for you?

home office

Uli: I have a fixed daily routine. Since the beginning of my time in the home office, I have imagined myself going to the office. So I take a shower, put on make-up and most importantly, I put on nice clothes. Instead of getting into the car or the train, I just go for a long walk around the yard. Once in the home office, I make myself a coffee, boot up my PC and start all the programs I need. Then I check the mail first and prioritize which tasks have to be processed first. The most important ones I do immediately and then I start with the actual project. External influences are rare here and I ignore private calls as well as the ringing at the front door - the post mail has cancellation permission. I am not at home but in the office. When I shut down the PC in the evening and call it a day, the first thing I do is put on stable clothes to switch to private mode.

homeoffice like a pro
The first coffee in the morning helps to "switch to work".

Patrick: Since going to the office has a symbolic value, which is not the case at home, I have acquired some rituals. First of all there are specific work clothes, because even if you are not seen so often, the clothes play an essential role at home. It shows me and my roommates - I am working now and I am not here for fun. Also the first coffee in the morning on the desk, until the laptop is powered up and all programs are started, is used here to "switch to work". The first thing to do is to have a look into the Inside, if there are new infos, important announcements etc. Afterwards the mails are checked. If the first overview is provided, the Google programs are opened at the end. At the end, headphones are put on in order not to be disturbed by external influences.

What do you think are the biggest advantages of working from home? And what do you think are the biggest disadvantages?

Uli: For me, the biggest advantage is that I can work on the project undisturbed and concentrated - if I have the feeling that my head is about to burst, I ask my colleague to look out for a mailbox and get some fresh air. A further advantage is being able to react ad hoc outside working hours in exceptional cases when there is a fire. This is highly appreciated by the customer.

But sometimes I miss the live coffees with colleagues face-to-face. That is something different than a hangout. If there is less to do, the temptation is to look out the window or do something else. The only thing that helps is to stay hard and look at tasks that don't have a priority to get back into flow. If there is really nothing to do, I ask if it is ok to take off ÜS or to take a half day off.

Patrick: A big advantage of working from home is that if the battery is empty prematurely, you can simply get up and enjoy the fresh air for 5-10 minutes. One should use this also well and gladly, because afterwards it works substantially more relaxed. Here too, communication is extremely important so that colleagues know what's going on and don't have to wait for answers.

When there is less to do, the temptation to do housework etc. is much greater - here you have to train yourself to be disciplined in this area.

home office like a pro
For Patrick, taking off his work clothes after work has a symbolic character.

Patrick: A big advantage of working from home is surely, if the battery is empty early, to simply get up and enjoy the fresh air for 5-10 minutes. You should make good use of this, because after that it works much more relaxed. Here, too, communication is extremely important so that colleagues know what's going on and don't have to wait for answers.

When there is less to do, the temptation to do housework etc. is much greater - here you have to train yourself to be disciplined in this area.

Do you manage to keep work and private life at home strictly separate? And if so, will you tell us how?

Uli: I have my own room for my home office which I don't use privately, which helps me enormously. And apart from that it's the rituals of dressing "neatly", sitting at the PC at point 8, etc. In exceptional cases I get calls from customers outside working hours, which I then accept - that's when I know that there really is a problem, that's actually the only point where I don't succeed.

Patrick: To one of the separate work areas, then really note in the appointment calendar when it is closing time. Also the taking off of the working clothes mentioned at the beginning has an enormous symbolic character. In my case it also helps, because normally the kindergarten is over by then, to pick up the children and concentrate completely on their private life. Also important - switch off your business mobile phone!

Uli mit Hund beim Feierabend
And after work is done, there is time for the good things in life.
Laptop auf der Terrasse mit Blick ins Grüne
When the weather is fine, work is done on the roof terrace with a view of the greenery.
4 Katzen und ein Auto
During the obligatory "way to the office" colleagues are welcomed.