Working from home – It was not on the list

Working from home – It was not on the list

Submit thesis by January – check.
Start a full-time job by March – check.
Accept it is a pandemic and embrace work from home – wait, what? It was not on the list!

The beginning of the year was all about changes and realigning the way of life. Being hired as a junior software engineer, it was the time to blend into the new work environment, build rapport with the team, and finally start working. Little did I know I had to do all that online while working from home – a supportive team, flexible process and a lot of tea made it happen.

At the very beginning of this transition from office to home office, it was evident that there was no one golden rule book to follow – not for the team or for myself. It was all about trying it out, see if it works, and then making it our own because at the end of the day the goal was to stay motivated, productive, and be mindful amidst the ever-changing rules of the pandemic. Though we are all living the dream, that is working from home, I wish that it was not when a virus was on the loose.

Slowly, life as I knew it was getting mixed up. On the work front, my team was doing everything at its disposal. I blended in there, got to know the team, started to work but it did not take long before I found myself always at home, rarely going out, limited face-to-face interactions. I heard the same from some of my teammates and friends. There were days where I secretly checked the calendar when talking to a teammate to see which day it was (I thank the calendar for all those reminders!).

Now, after 8 months of adapting to this work style and lifestyle, here are a few things that proved effective while working from home.

1. Communication is the key 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to communicate, it is the key that opens up a team, effective communication is rewarding. Sometimes, collectively complaining about the weather goes a long way before we dive into work-related talks. It is a relief when I have the necessary updates.

2. Tools and Flexible process 

I enjoy and engage in meetings, pair programming, retrospective because of the simple and feature-rich tools we use for many of the important processes.

3. Feedback can go a long way 

My team made sure they collect feedback regularly, I saw it helped the team to voice their opinion and improve or continue the process.

4. Power of chair 

I was surprised how a comfortable chair, a good monitor, a clean organized table made such a big difference when working from home.

My team helped with work-related changes but adjusting to the changes it brought to my personal life took some fine-tuning. What day is it? How long has it been that I have not moved a leg muscle? Should I thaw that chicken leg or just make some pasta? Is the laundry done? Did I lose track of time again?

I realized how pending decisions about small things can lead to that unusual and uneasy feeling in the back of my mind.

I came up with a schedule which I stuck to manage those uneasy feelings, to an extent it helped me bring back the focus on me, it was not all about work. Set the reminder to move around (investing in a fitness tracker was a good idea). I ate light lunch and I started pre-cooking my meals – it saved me from a lot of unwanted diversions during work.

It feels comfortable now, to work from home, it has become the new normal. I have noticed my teammates do not say “you are on mute” to each other often, well I guess that shows we are used to it now.

Though It was not on the list, we improvised and checked it off the list!

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