Everywhere in the world people are facing the biggest health crisis challenge of 2020. It is a shared responsibility for those of us, who can work from home to stay home. This way we can help in the fight against the virus, but also protect the people who do not have the possibility to stay home.
Therefore we at DESIGN-IT thought about sharing our personal experience working from home in the IT field but also to give some personal notes on how we cope with productivity and social distancing while trying to keep a sane mind.
There are already a lot of helpful articles out there with useful tips on which apps and software help and in what way, but we want to focus more on our personal experience in the IT branch. Social distancing and doing home office does not mean you will be alone in your tasks; there are a lot of different ways in which to stay on track and in contact with your colleagues.
Our team, as you might have seen from our self-presentation page, works on two different continents: the project management team in Germany and software engineers in Uruguay. And some of us have been doing home office for a couple of years now. It can be challenging but it also allows you to be more flexible regarding your set work hours and the time dedicated to yourself, since e.g. the commute falls out of the picture.
Read below our experience and how we schedule our working routine as well as what we do to disengage from a day of work.
While the literature on home office has already showcased all the different communication, design, coding and project management apps and what benefits they have, we want to share with you the ones, we use in our team. We have tested different software and applications over the years, and the following have resulted in being the best ones for us:
Communication and Project Management
Slack: We have been using Slack for the past three and a half years and we can say with certainty that it is the best and quickest way, to stay in touch and to share updates on projects, but also to discuss other involving issues. The software is equipped with desktop, mobile and web versions for easy access from anywhere. We have different channels for our different projects, and the other cool thing about it is, that you can organize different workspaces for different teams according to your personal needs.
OnS —> Jira: Online Support or OnS, is a software created by us for us to keep track of our hours, ticketing system (for our releases and hotfixes) and communication with our clients. We are slowly transitioning to Jira since it offers a wider range of options and is up to date with current requirements in the IT world.
Google Hangouts –> Zoom: We use this for our team calls and calls on specific projects set in our synched calendars, though at the moment everyone being home, we are tending to use more Zoom, because it gives us the possibility to share our screens with the people in the call and we can also give the right to someone to take control over our shared screen.
Design prototyping and showcasing
InVision: We have been using Invision for our design prototyping and showcasing to our customers for a lot of years. It has a lot of really useful features like the Freehand tool to sketch first ideas in the team, easy feedback option on the slides, the animation feature to make your prototype look as close as possible to the end product when inviting the customer to join the prototype.
Loom: It helps us to show and record a certain irregularity while testing, or simply when we want to show something in the team. We use it also in communication with our customers. This way they can record the problem they face and we can respond faster.
GitHub: Probably the best-known software development platform, we have been using GitHub for years for developing.
Given the current world health developments it may be hard to set up your home space for your office hours. To help with this, taking the necessary time in the morning / or evening, to prepare for or to disengage from the day is equally important. In the end we all are trying our best to not panic.
This may be a steamy cup of coffee in the morning with some energizing music (now you can also work on your personal playlists), or your favorite type of workout in the evening. It is important to have these routines set out, to have a clear and calm mind and a productive day ahead.
The one thing all the articles seem to agree on is: In the morning get changed out of your pajamas and prepare yourself as if you were going to your office. This helps set your mind to the daily tasks ahead and is also necessary if your job involves a lot of video conferences.
In the evening you can use the time to be with your family, if everyone is at home at the moment. Cooking together, or even just laying lazily on the sofa and watching series or movies is also great. Watching the news is equally important, to stay on topic regarding new behaviour requirements.
Last but not least advice we can give you is: Keep in contact with your loved ones. Thanks to the internet and our current technologies, we are still able to FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp video call with our family and friends. Everybody needs to feel that they are not forgotten and they are loved.
If you are not sure whether these tools are the ones for you, quick research on LinkedIn e.g. will show you articles and opinions on other apps as well. And the best thing about them is that they have a free version where you can test them out.
We hope we helped you with our article, whether you are a freelancer, part of a smaller team like ours or someone from a big corporation starting to get the hang of home office.
Remember, home office works! It is an individual as well as a team effort to make it work. Just don’t give up and try to outline your personal time in order to be more productive during work hours! In this era of technology, we may be working from home, but we are still together on the world wide web!
Not every day will be the same, just as not every day in the office is the same! Don’t beat yourself up, everyone is having a hard time readjusting to the current situation.
Stay safe and productive and help #socialdistancing as much as you can!