The current situation has catapulted many of us into the home office without warning. At first, it’s like wanting to sail without knowing how to trim a sail. Suddenly a whole working day at home flows without breaks unless we consciously set them. There is no travel to and from the office, which gives the day natural boundaries in the sense of a beginning and an end. The first messages arrive before, and the last ones arrive well after regular office hours. Life partners and children are omnipresent and have their tasks to perform. The daily care must be secured. It is a lot at once.

But with time, a fresh wind comes in. As springtime warms, our digital world begins to awaken. At first uncertain and with small mistakes and glitches, collaboration tools and video conferencing are starting to become increasingly natural for us. We are surprised how much is possible in this way. The given occasion lowers our inhibition threshold and forces us out of our comfort zone.

We learn that even in the virtual world facilitation is needed and that with an excellent start to the meeting, we can create a productive atmosphere. For example, a short statement per participant about a recently experienced highlight at the beginning quickly shows who is present and increases the energy of everyone. Something that we might take over when we are physically sitting opposite each other again in a meeting room. Appearing just as professionally in virtual meetings, for example by wearing appropriate clothing, as well as securing results in the chat history, becomes a new practice for us with familiar elements.

The stress level decreases after we structure our working day appropriately, pay attention to our energy and performance and keep times when the home office is also closed. New self-determination and self-responsibility do us good. The focus on essentials has been sharpened, nice-to-have meetings are less frequent.

As an employee, we succeed, despite physical distance, in being present with our superior and in making our achievements visible. As a manager, the focus is on accompanying and guiding the team into the new way of working. Fixed times of exchange, such as a daily stand-up from the agile work forms, ensure an effective closing of ranks.

We playfully pick up speed in the virtual world, we experiment with online workshops and digital coffee breaks. Digital educational opportunities take us further. Content is accessed via videos and podcasts, online articles and blog content, for example, and shared within our teams. We get digital support through technical possibilities such as virtual whiteboards or ad hoc surveys, which can often be used online for free.

We are a little proud of our newly acquired skills and our expanded horizons. And the fun factor is also not neglected when we change our appearance in some video calls with apps so that we wear virtual hats or change our background into a desert landscape. Birthdays are still celebrated, with pictures and symbols and happy birthday was sung from the heart over the net. We are separated and yet united.

We will emerge from the situation stronger if we gradually return to our offices. Perhaps a higher proportion of home office space will remain in the future. Then we will have gained flexibility and more freedom of choice. We have increased our level of digitalization during this time. After the stormy times alone on the high seas, we can salvage the treasures we have acquired and report on our experiences.

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