A recent post by Alexander Zinser regarding the evolution of the employee caught my eye a few weeks ago. He shared a graphic by Jacob Morgan from the futureorganization.com that reflects how the way employees work change at the moment and how it’s gonna look in the future. Funny thing is that it dates from 2014. A lot has changed since. The changes have been pretty slow until the pandemic. The pandemic has hit us hard. It made us change our lifestyles, our social lives but also our professional lives at a very fast pace.
There is a real structural change happening. Zinser points out two megatrends:
First trend has been remote working. Since the pandemic started being fully integrated into our everyday lives, we have witnessed a popular trend of hybrid working. Today, people expect to have the freedom to choose to work wherever they want. They make their own decisions and even complete tasks via a mobile phone. Recently, airbnb has also announced that they’ve implemented a new remote working policy: the company now gives their employees the freedom to live and work anywhere in the world, wherever it makes them happy.
Second trend concerns the great reshuffle. After working remotely, many people realised the possibilities of working differently. They can choose how to work, when to work and where to work from. But now, many employees also start to question why they work. They’re questioning themselves on what company to work in and what career to pursue.
Employees customise their work and set their own goals and challenges. Work at their own pace as long as the deadlines and goals are met. They have a bigger voice in the company they work for and feel more heard. Many companies focus on collaboration and believe that it enhances productivity and knowledge amongst employees.
How did these changes occur here at dualoop? During the following weeks, I’ll be interviewing several of my colleagues who are remote working like I do. What are the challenges we all face? What do we love about remote work and what do we dislike?
To launch our remote worker interview series, I have interviewed Andrej Makovický. Andrej lives in the Czech Republic. Brno to be precise. He’s a senior product manager here at dualoop. For many years, he has also worked as a tutor for Software Engineering I at Masaryk University. Remote working isn’t new for our Czech looper. He’s been working remotely for many years since he collaborates with other people from all around the world. Barcelona, London, Bayern, Berlin, Split are some of the cities his colleagues work from. He’s now working hybrid and tries to go to the office once a month.
The company he works for, Ada, allows Andrej to work remotely outside of the country, wherever he wants, for 3 months.
Any struggle with remote working?
Remote working isn’t always easy for everybody. Some people dream of it, but some absolutely dread it. Our Andrej loves it. “I’m absolutely able to work in this confined space. I have everything prepared here, I don’t need to go somewhere else,” he says.
It’s not always hard to disconnect when you work remotely
One of the main things that many employees struggle whilst working remotely is disconnecting once the work is done. How do you switch off? Is it even possible to switch off?
I ask our Andrej… Do you feel like your professional life and personal life has melted in one since remote working? “Always. Since I started working. I can’t stop,” he says. “You stop your working hours, but your brain still works. When I get up in the morning, I play with my kid, whilst thinking about how I will structure my day. I feed the kid, then give the kid back. Then work, work, work. Then get the kid back, we play together whilst I think about finishing some stuff I was thinking about. I take the kid to the store, then I have a call during that. It’s kind of melted. It’s absolutely okay for me. I don’t need to 100% shut down. I’m unable to do anyways. My work is fully integrated in my life”.
However, it’s not always easy with this concept. Some people absolutely dread it and love having a separation between work and their personal life… fairly understandable! I’d suggest you to follow these few tips if you’re having trouble disconnecting whilst remote working.
Many people have a hard time focusing whilst remote working
It’s very common to be distracted whilst remote working in your comfortable space. You might notice your PlayStation in the corner and crave a 5 minutes game session that’d turn into an hour one. Or be tempted by watching an extra episode on Netflix. But it’s not the case with everyone.
Some people do manage to focus better whilst remote working. For our Andrej, it’s 100% the case. “I don’t have the coffee chat I had when I was in the office,” he says. “I worked with 5 other people and I was a VP. Everyone came and asked questions, they all wanted something. They saw me somewhere and were like “oh so what about this, what about that?” you always get interrupted doing anything for other people,” he adds.
Remote working is not an excuse to lose focus. There’s a lot of distractions in offices as well. Andrej tells me everyone had headphones on to not lose focus from all distractions around the office. “It’s much better for me to work remotely. If I have something to finish on my calendar, I can sit down and shut everything off. I know if someone bothers me, it's either the kid or there’s a fire somewhere, or a nuclear attack from Russia.”
How did working remotely affect physically?
Working remotely can affect our physical activities in different ways. Some people feel extra motivated to become more active and go for a run around their neighbourhood or join a gym with the time they have saved from commuting to work. How did it actually go with Andrej?
Andrej seems to have benefited a lot from working remotely. “I lost like 8 kilos. It’s the time I got back. I didn’t need to commute to the office and had time to work out” he says. I’m maybe thinking it’s the least amount of beers he drank whilst not being able to socialise during the lockdown. He does prove to me that he’s a very active man. As our interview goes on, he shows me his very organised space and the kettle bell he uses to work out and the space he uses to do push-ups.
Anyone also heard of walking meetings? Working remotely also allows you to do walking meetings. It’s basically just taking your meeting outside and doing it whilst being active. “I used to do walking meetings as well,” Andrej says. “Even when I was in the office. We went to the shopping centre where we had the office and we would go and do a walking meeting. Here I have a park, I can take the kid and go to the park and have a walk. Even this meeting could’ve been a walking meeting for example. It’s okay to do a walking meeting. I tend to think better when I'm walking. Even when I used to learn in college. I took my script and just walked around” he adds.
Food wise, remote working seems to have benefited our Andrej. “In the office, I was always hungry. I forgot about eating and I was not able to find food, so I had to go out and buy something to eat. And here I have a fridge. I can go down and get it, it's much easier for me. And it’s also healthier.”
Andrej is very organised when it comes to his working space. “Here, I have a standing desk, I have everything here,” he says. “I have a 100% professional setting. I’ve got a clean desk, coffee mouse, microphone, everything ready to work”.
Having kids seem to be causing trouble whilst remote working
The biggest advantage of me not having a kid is basically being able to travel whenever I want and wherever I want. With my colleagues with kids… it doesn’t seem to be that easy.
“Anyone who has a kid knows the struggle”, Andrej says. “I have a colleague who has three kids and he locks himself in the room. They always come in and want to play, they’re older than my kid though. My kid is only one. So if I just close the door, I’m able to do anything and the kid won’t be able to come inside. But when I go outside and take some water in the kitchen, he sees me, he wants to play and when I leave he cries. So it’s a bit of a struggle on this side”, he adds.
Socialising with colleagues
One thing remote working lacks is the social aspect with colleagues. You’re not really able to go grab a beer with your colleagues after work. Does Andrej think he’s close with his colleagues? “No. It’s not as social. I don’t know the names of their pets for example. From a work perspective, it’s absolutely okay. It would be great to meet more but now because of covid there’s no more place to meet. I used to meet my colleagues more times over a beer than at the office. So the concept of an office is not that relevant in what I do,” Andrej says.
Is remote working the future of work?
Many trends hint that remote working is indeed the future of work. At least hybrid working is. We can already see this trend dominating some industries. What does Andrej think about that?
“I feel like it already is the norm, and whoever is not embracing it is way behind the rest. And they will not be able to get top talents from where you are” Andrej says. It is true that top talent is spread all over the world and companies need to reconsider offering remote work to their employees if they want to gather the best in their company. He adds: “If you’re stationed somewhere, you always need to rely on people who are around you, or relocating people, or making them come there instead of letting them choose where to work from”.
Remote working is mainly about trust. “It’s about understanding that people can be responsible for working from anywhere,” Andrej says. “It’s about the old kind of guard/managers. If an employee is not responsible working remotely then they won’t work even in the office and sit there, and find a way to not make themselves busy,” he adds.
Andrej concludes: “ It’s good to be in the 21st century, being able to work somewhere and people trusting you in doing your job. If you’re a responsible person, always do your job and go over what you need to do, I really see no harm in it”.