A whole year. Remember when the lockdown was just going to be “2-3 weeks”? Ah, the good ol’ days. Except these are still the good days, whilst some of them are tough, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like everything is good. We’re still doing good things, speaking to good people and seeing good things happening out in the world. (Hello, vaccine?!)
A year feels like a pretty significant milestone, so we thought this was an excellent time to write about what the year of WFH has been like for us as a team.
We were Slack-ers at the beginning (the app, I mean), and it just wasn’t really working well for us. It was all text chat and all in the same channel. This wouldn’t be the end of the world if we worked on one project. However, we’re an agency, and we’re working on 7+ projects at any one time.
That’s when the fantastic Holly Allen stepped in and showed us the wonders of Discord. A few of the team knew about Discord thanks to their gaming backgrounds or having joined other chat servers (ahem, Nor:(Dev)).
So, TUS hopped on the Discord ride, and it’s safe to say we saw improvements in our communications almost immediately. We have text channels for projects, but we also have voice channels that anyone can hop in (camera or not) and have a chat with the rest of the team. It could be about a problem they’re having with a task, could be to chat about what they’re having for tea - it’s all up for discussion.
Working from home pros
There are many, and whilst it’s hard to see them sometimes whilst also dealing with the whole ‘pandemic’ thing going on, I wanted to ask the team what their favourite thing was about working from home.
“Not having to commute and wait for public transport.”
Yep. Agreed. We love that it’s even more frowned upon for someone to sit next to you on the bus now, and we love it even more that we don’t need to get on a bus. Not only are we saving money on things like bus tickets and fuel, but we’re also saving time. If you commute thirty minutes each way, that’s an hour we now have back in our days. An hour we can use to lay in a little in the morning, an hour we can use at the end of the day to chill out a bit before we go straight into cooking the evening meal.
“Being able to see my other half.”
There are so many cases where nurses/doctors/key workers are isolated from their families to keep them safe, and we’re so fortunate to be able to see the people we live with more during the day. We still miss our friends and further families, of course.
“I got kittens.”
I don’t think this one needs any more explanation, really. New pets are always great - especially when you can spend ALL day with them.
Hindsight is wonderful
I also asked the team what they know now that they wish they had learned a year ago, and here’s what they said!
“That working from home doesn’t mean you’re less productive.”
Right! There’s a strange connotation around home working that it’s not productive, that the days are shorter and you spend more time sitting on the sofa watching tv. I think people who worked from home pre-COVID will back us up when we say this simply isn’t the case. There’s just more freedom in your day. Some days are less productive than others, but that was the same when we were in the office five days a week. Nobody is effective all day, every day, and as soon as the corporate world realises that, the better. The sooner people have the flexibility to work in a way that suits them, the better.
We still miss the office
Just because working from home has its perks doesn’t mean we don’t miss working in the office with real-life humans.
“Frens and all the SGW doggos.”
Oh, the dogs. At The User Story, we’re an animal heavy team, and thanks to St Georges Works being a dog-friendly office building, we made many dog friends. We very much miss the St Georges Works humans too. They’re some of our favourites.
“Going out to lunch in the city - especially Christophe’s Crepes.”
Home-cooked food is fine, but there’s something so great about popping out for lunch with the team and heading to Grosvenors, Moorish or St Andrews Brewhouse (to name only a few) sitting outside with the dogs eating in the sunshine. We’re hoping outdoor lunches might be possible later in the summer!
“Actually seeing peoples’ faces and the impromptu chats.”
We use Discord, and whilst voice channels and turning on video every now and again is great - it’s never the same as being in the same room. We miss the “anyone fancy a coffee?” or “what’s everyone got for lunch today?” conversation starters that used to be such a normal part of the day (to be clear, I ask what people eat all the time, it’s a hobby).
What’s getting us through?
Tequila, dogs, video games and counting down till potential freedom is keeping us going.
This pandemic hasn’t been easy; we’ll be the first ones to admit that. But we’re trying to take all the lessons we’ve learnt the last year and use them to improve the way we live, as well as the way we work.
Photo by Paico Oficial on Unsplash