It´s still running? A status update after 6 months in the home office

6 Monate im Home-Office
6 Monate im Home-Office

6 month home office

Who would have thought that in March of this year? Back then, everything was still fresh, everything new (as reported here). It felt good to work from home. Finally in comfortable clothes, without long commutes, just throwing the laundry in the washing machine during my lunch break. A whole new attitude to life.

But how are we doing today? What has become of this supposed fulfillment of work-life balance? After more than 6 months in the home office, do we still feel as good as we did at the beginning of the Corona crisis? What has changed? How much do we miss the office routine and why do we suddenly no longer hoard toilet paper, but completely different things?

After half a year of “working from home”, we asked a few selected Picalike employees questions about their well-being and their work situation in the home office, and these are their answers:

Franziska is our Customer Success Manager and looks after existing customers at Picalike

Franziska Weiß
Franzi im Home Office

Franzi in the Home Office

 

If you don’t hoard toilet paper anymore, what do you have in abundance in the house now?

Phew, nothing really. We go shopping once or twice a week and get what we need. I don’t have the space at home to hoard anything.

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you discovered in the last months?

Series I could list many here now, but my favorites include:

The Handmaid’s Tale and Dark. Board games and community games I’m a fan of Wizard, but you need 3 people for that, which was of course difficult at the beginning of Corona. I could go on forever, but I think that’s enough.

It’s been a good 6 months now that we all don’t see each other every day in the office, but only every 2 weeks in a joint meeting. How do you feel today? Has your emotional state changed since the beginning of March?

I still feel very comfortable, as I have also gotten used to the situation and I like working in the home office.

Has anything changed in your workplace?

Yes, actually. Since working in the kitchen was not a long-term solution, I have created a small work corner in the living room. I can leave everything there at the end of the day and don’t have to put it away for dinner.

Which piece of clothing has become particularly dear to you during this time?

I’ll be honest – the sweatpants. When you sit at your desk all day it’s more comfortable than wearing jeans or something like that. 😄

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

We did purchase a food processor. Other than that, as I mentioned before, my new desk 😉

Have you discovered new leisure activities for you and/ or discontinued others?

Unfortunately, I do much less sports, at home I can motivate myself less well to do so. However, I still don’t like going to gyms at the moment.

What do you miss most in the home office?

Riding my bike to work every day and direct contact with colleagues, but fortunately we’ve found a pretty good solution internally so that it’s only half as bad 😉 (Editor’s note: We’ve introduced a daily chatroulette via Slack. Every day, you chat with a random team member for about 15 minutes about random topics or something completely different).

What do you not miss so much?

The time it takes to drive to work – yes, I miss riding my bike, but this way I have one hour more a day for private things.

Hand on heart: How often do you cook yourself pasta during the week or conveniently order food to eat at home?

In the beginning I ate a lot of convenience food, but now we cook a lot more thanks to our new food processor.

Hi Julius, how do you feel after 6 months in the home office? Has your emotional situation changed since the beginning of March?

I think we have made the situation as comfortable as possible for everyone. I am one of the people who spends most of my time in the home office (a team meeting in the office every 14 days). This is still more than in the early days, but not much. I realize that especially when I then see the team on site, then I notice that the contact with colleagues is already a bit lacking.

Has anything changed in your workplace?

Hardly at all, the main changes took place in the first few weeks. Although, a curtain was still important – in the mornings you are otherwise strongly blinded here.

Which piece of clothing has become particularly dear to you during this time?

Let’s be honest: shorts / sweatpants.

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

No.

Have you discovered any new leisure activities for yourself and/ or stopped doing others?

Too little exercise… Other than that, app development.

Hallo Julius, wie fühlst du dich nach nunmehr 6 Monaten im Home Office? Hat sich deine Gefühlslage zum Anfang März verändert?

Ich denke wir haben die Situation für alle so angenehm wie möglich gemacht. Ich gehöre zu den Leuten, die die meiste Zeit im Homeoffice verbringen (alle 14 Tage ein Team-Meeting im Büro). Das ist zwar immer noch mehr als in der Anfangszeit, aber nicht viel. Das wird mir vor allem bewusst, wenn ich dann das Team vor Ort sehe, dann bemerke ich, dass der Kontakt mit den Kollegen schon ein wenig fehlt.

Hat sich etwas an deinem Arbeitsplatz geändert?

Kaum noch, die wesentlichen Veränderungen fanden in den ersten Wochen statt. Obwohl, ein Vorhang war noch wichtig – morgens wird man hier sonst stark geblendet.

Welches Kleidungsstück ist dir in dieser Zeit besonders ans Herz gewachsen?

Seien wir doch ehrlich: kurze Hose / Jogginghose.

Irgendwelche Neu-Anschaffungen im Haushalt? (Haustier, Fitnessgerät, Balkon oder Garten umgestaltet?)

Nein.

Hast du neue Freizeitaktivitäten für dich entdeckt und/ oder andere eingestellt?

Zu wenig Sport… Abgesehen davon: App-Entwicklung.

Julius im Home Office

Julius im Home Office

Julius at home office

Julius is a machine learning engineer and programmer at Picalike

Julius Lange

What do you miss most about the home office?

Probably no one can hear this anymore: the colleagues (talking and actually sitting across from each other are very different things).

What do you not miss at all?

100 minutes of commuting per day.

Hand on heart: how many times a week do you cook yourself pasta or conveniently order food home?

On average 1x per week I think. Not living alone is very helpful there.

If you don’t hoard toilet paper anymore, what do you have in abundance in the house now?

Honestly… nothing. The fridge is still empty at least once a week.

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you’ve discovered in the last few months?

The Switch. Overall. At home alone or as a couple and online with friends. It just fits. Besides, there have been days when I wouldn’t have moved at all without “Just Dance”.

Maik is project manager of the Picalike dev team and leads our big team meeting every 2 weeks at Betahaus

Maik Kade

Maik im Home Office

Maik at the Home Office

 

What do you miss most about the home office?

Working together with the marketing/sales team in one office. But since we moved with the company, this is no longer possible anyway. Otherwise sports, as already mentioned, especially the way there and back by bike. And going to the movies.

What do you not miss at all?

The train rides to work.

Hand on heart: How often do you cook yourself pasta during the week or conveniently order food home?

Because of the kids, we have ready-to-eat pizza once a week or food that is generally quick to prepare – for us adults, that is. The children feast on the best we can prepare for them. You have to take a back seat, or sometimes you don’t even have time to eat properly. Delivery service is only once every 3-4 weeks.

If you no longer hoard toilet paper, what do you now have in abundance in the house?

Toilet paper! No, seriously. We didn’t really start hoarding things more than we did before. And we weren’t hoarding then either.

And what about you, Maik? How do you feel after 6 months in the home office? Have your feelings changed since the beginning of March?

Overall, I’m actually doing just as well as I was in March, although I have to say that I mostly like the many home offices quite a lot and they fit in quite well with my private everyday life – especially my two very agile twin girls. Regarding the pandemic, I’m not so much in panic mode anymore, but I’m still not completely relaxed about it and probably won’t be until the issue is finally over.

Has anything changed at your workplace?

I have moved my work desk to another place in the room and am more meticulous about keeping the space and room tidy, as I have noticed that having to work in an untidy room really affects me.

What piece of clothing have you grown particularly fond of during this time?

In the hot summer it was definitely my two new cargo shorts. With them, you can work comfortably without feeling like you’re sitting in a ski suit in the sauna. And on long walks with the stroller, they have enough pockets for everything.

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

We purchased a mini swimming pool for the balcony, which the kids have used plenty to splash around in, and I’ve been cooling my feet in it. Apart from that, I now have a knee stool in the study and can regularly switch between it and my Petzi bouncy ball. That does my back a lot of good in the home office. And well, my kettlebell collection is now complete, since I still like to use lunch breaks for a short sports program.

Have you discovered any new recreational activities for you and/ or discontinued others?

I don’t teach Capoeira at the moment and train this only alone. That is surely also Corona-conditioned, however it would have come there anyway by the two small children at home to restrictions. Even if that’s complaining on a high level, it’s putting a lot of pressure on me, since I’ve been practicing this sport very intensively for over 20 years and have a lot of my friends there.

On the other hand, I now have more time in the evenings to listen to audio books and to watch/listen to a series via tablet and headphones with a sleeping child in my arms. That is really something special!

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you’ve discovered in the last few months?

Best TV series – Cobra Kai (formerly MTV) now on Netflix. The series surprised me beyond belief, as I never thought a sequel to the Karate Kid trilogy from the 80s could be so exciting, emotional and funny.

In terms of audiobooks, I’m currently delving into the “Gray Man” tech crime series about a solo operative (assassin) from the hand of Mark Greaney, who has also co-written with Tom Clancy. And I’m looking forward to the 200 million Netflix film adaptation of these books.

Finally, I want to finally read Frank Herbert’s Dune (The Desert Planet) in the original, and thus prepare myself for the film adaptation by Denis Villeneuve (here’s the trailer).

And how do you feel after the long time in the home office? Or are you already back-to-normal and back in the office?
Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

How’s it going? A status update after 14 days in the home office

14 days in the Home-Office
Home Office - Kaffeepause bei Picalike

14 Days Home Office

A good 14 days ago the Picalike team decided by mutual agreement to set up their (work) tents at home and work in the home office for an indefinite period of time in order to protect everyone and to keep the infection curve flat. But how have the employees been doing in the last few days? What new routines have been created, what has remained the same, what do the team members miss most and what do they miss least? We asked a few colleagues about this and here are their honest and sometimes not so serious answers.

Franziska takes care of the existing customers at Picalike.

Franziska Weiß
Franzi's Home Office

Franzi’s Home Office

Did you find it difficult to discipline yourself at first?

No, not really. I closed the door and I’m not to be disturbed. It’s important to me to see the home office as a normal working day and to do tasks like washing clothes and stuff at the end of the day, which is what I would do otherwise.

What technical equipment do you have at home?

Since I “only” live in a 60 sqm apartment with my partner, I’m not lucky enough to have my own office, so as I already mentioned, my kitchen is just right. I have my work laptop and mouse with me.

What would the ideal working world look like for you? Remote or at the office?

I like talking to my colleagues and I also like going to work by bike in the morning, so I like working in the office. However, I find the possibility of doing home office very pleasant and could also imagine a mixture of remote and office.

A good 2 weeks have now passed in which we all no longer see each other every day in the office. How are you today? How’s the work from home treating you?

I’m fine, I’m sitting in my kitchen, working on my tasks. Besides, I can watch the beautiful weather out of the window.

What was the biggest challenge/changeover in the home office for you?

Since I don’t have any children to look after yet and have enough space to work, I shouldn’t complain. I have also worked in the home office before and can therefore handle it very well.

What does your working day look like now? Which things/tasks have remained the same? What has changed? Do you have new routines?

Actually, it looks the same as always: I get up, get cleaned up and sit at the computer. What has changed is that I can sleep a little longer because I no longer have a driving route. What has changed is that I always take a little walk after work (of course with a lot of distance to other people). And not to forget: The clothing style. I work without shoes on my feet and most of the time I wear sweatpants. On top I dress according to my daily routine (meeting, no meeing with clients) with a hoodie or regular top (sweater).

What do you miss most in the home office?

The funny moments with my colleagues and the stories of my boss Sebastian 😉 In the home office you sit rather mute in the “office”. And of course our office dog Lilly, who always brings a smile to your face.

What do you miss the least?

Getting up earlier *laughs*

What is the biggest trap for you in the home office?

It’s hard to say, I get along well with the home office and can seperate private things from worktime. If so, then it’s probably my posture at the PC, again and again I find myself sitting crooked or slipping from my chair – I’m curious to see the statistics on how many people have a slipped disc after spending time in the home office.

What are the 3 things without which you would not survive a work from home?

Hot lemon (sugar-free), cuddly socks (for warm feet), dishwasher (where do all the dishes come from *laughs*)

How much toilet paper do you have left in the house/flat?

Because I am not one of those preppers (which in Germany are called Hamster), there are only: 8 rolls. Should be enough for now.

Hello Julius, you too have been in the home office for over two weeks now. How are you today? How is the “working from home” for you?

An interesting mixture of advantages and disadvantages.

What was the biggest challenge/changeover in the home office for you?

Fewer social contacts and less working together on a task.

How does your working day now look like? Which things/tasks have remained the same? What has changed? Do you have new routines?

I get up much later. The common lunch is omitted and thus the day is structured more variable. The important question at 11:30 a.m. is missing (in the Picalike team this is the question of who goes where for lunch, editor’s note). Not much has changed in the actual work processes.

What do you miss most in the home office?

The direct contact with colleagues.

What do you miss least?

The commute.

How's it going? A status update after 14 days in the home office 2
Julius in the home office

Julius is a software developer at Picalike

Julius Lange

What is the biggest trap for you in the home office?

Large, unmanageable and complex tasks, which are best discussed and divided up first in a team and where a lot of familiarisation could be facilitated / saved by explanations from others.

Did you find it difficult to discipline yourself at the beginning?

It was neither easier nor harder for me at the beginning than at other times.

What technical equipment do you have at home?

Work laptop + gaming mouse/keyboard + screen + speakers + webcam + ANC headset when silence becomes too loud.

What would the ideal working world look like for you? Remote or in the office?

Probably a mixture. 3 days office, 2 days home office for example.

What are the 3 things without which you would not survive a home office?

Screen, music, video chat.

How much toilet paper do you have left in your house/flat?

All of it.

Maik is project manager of the Picalike development team

Maik Kade
How's it going? A status update after 14 days in the home office 5

Maiks home office

What do you miss most about the home office?

My almost 10 km bike ride there in the morning and back in the evening. I actually need this time to clear my head, get some fresh air and I really like the training. Somehow I always plan my work on the bike or let the day pass in review.

Apart from that I also miss the working atmosphere on site. We really have a great team at picalike and I have much less contact with everyone at the moment.
Especially as a project manager it’s important to me to know the personal feelings of my team so that I can support them when they have a less than great day. I don’t notice much of that at the moment and I’ve been thinking for days about how I can change that.

What do you miss the least?

Some days we distract each other a little too much at the office. I’m not always innocent about that either. I can tell by the fact that sometimes I can get my work done in less time than usual. But in the long run I would rather be in the office 30 minutes longer and have more of this interaction, because I think that these little interactions are like the salt in the soup for a good working atmosphere. Without them it is just too bland. And often good ideas come to you in these moments.

What is the biggest trap for you in the home office?

Since my two children don’t give me much scope to slide into traps anyway, there are none at the moment. But I know from my earlier home-office days that I definitely shouldn’t start a series during the break or even turn on the Xbox.

Did you find it difficult to discipline yourself at the beginning?

Nope. But that might also be because I’m from the individual sports performance sports area. Self-discipline is indispensable there. Just the chocolate on my table sometimes makes me weak…

What would the ideal working environment look like for you? Remote or office?

A combination of the two. I can imagine 2-3 days in the home office, but I think that for certain things real face-to-face communication is better. This is especially true for our weekly meetings and training sessions, as well as my moderation of in-house mini-workshops.

How much toilet paper do you still have in your house/flat?

At the moment still a whole pack, but I’m starting to worry, because I haven’t seen any for 10 days while shopping.

And how are you doing in the home office, Maik?

I’m doing pretty good these days. My wife, my children and I are healthy and fit, which is probably the most important thing at the moment.

My days are even more planned than before, which is more due to my living situation with little twins at home. The balancing act between project manager and dad has become much more difficult, since everything is now in the same place.

Fortunately, I am at least still in the situation to have a complete study. But of course, the door opens up here every now and then and my wife stands there with demands. And if you hear a child, crying in the backround, I won´t stay seated. This would not have happened in a normal office environment. Whether this is better or worse, I can only say after more time. But I’m definitely much more exhausted in the evening than before, because there’s no longer a commute between my two main jobs. That’s when I always slowly switched from one job to the other. Now it is immediately.

What was the biggest challenge/changeover in the home office for you?

To find a regulation with my wife that allows me to work in a concentrated manner despite having two children. This is something we are still negotiating, because for her it is really not easy to have two babies on her own.
Also some technical things. For example, I have to regulate my broadband transmission in the study differently, because otherwise I would notice my weak W-Lan transmission, especially in video conferences.

How does your working day look like now? Which things/tasks have remained the same? What has changed? Do you have new routines?

The workflow itself has not changed much. I still lead my daily meeting with the developers in the morning, even if now via video call. The funny thing is that even in the home office, the team insists that it’s a stand-up meeting, even though I didn’t insist on it. Apart from that, I still play a lot of solitaire on our Trello boards, and work hand in hand with the Marketing/Sales team I was sitting in the same room with before.

What has changed for me is that I feel I spend more time with the Trello board, since we currently don’t have a real board in the development office for the whole team. Also the amount of written communication in Slack has increased a lot. For certain things like mini-workshops I have to come up with solutions online. And I can work on a task undisturbed for longer.

But my breaks are different now. I take my lunch break a little later, because socialising with the team at lunchtime no longer exists and no one has yet asked for virtual meals together. From my 1 hour lunch break, I use 50 minutes for sports 3-4 days a week. My study also hides some fitness equipment. On the one hand I need this as compensation, on the other hand I need it to counteract the permanent sitting at the computer.

Well and I have here my Pezzi ball as an alternative sitting possibility. So I change between ball and chair every 60 minutes. And then every day there is a little bit of hopping around on the ball. I think, in the office I would get a strange look if I was fidgeting around so wildly.

What kind of equipment do you have at home?

I have a second 28 inch full HD monitor from Benq, Bose Bluetooth speakers (if the music needs to be loud), a very good Marshall Bluetooth over-ear headset (for video conferencing or if I want to block out outside noise), my company laptop, my company high end gaming mouse (I love it´s green lights), my death star table lamp that glows in the same green (nerd attack) AND the nightmare of all my office colleagues: I own a 1.5 kg high-end keyboard from the German company Klim with MECHANICAL keys. Every keystroke is as loud as on an old typewriter. I could never use it in the office. The keystroke afterglow I set to green of course.

What are the three things you couldn’t get through a home office without?

1. Loud music 2. Dark chocolate 3. Sports against eating too much dark chocolate