Making it work from home

WeTransfer guidelines for working from home during the coronavirus crisis

O-o-h child things are gonna get easier

O-o-h child things'll get brighter

O-o-h child things are gonna get easier

O-o-h child things'll get brighter

Someday we'll get it together and we'll get it undone

Someday when the world is much brighter

Someday we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun

Someday when the world is much lighter

Five Stairsteps on Soultrain, 1970

A beautiful song full of hope and reassurance, something I believe we're all longing for during these unprecedented times. 

We know that, in different ways, this is a hard time for everyone. We are not working from home. We are at home trying to make it work. We all struggle in our own ways because, in the end, this is a crisis. And it's all new. Nothing in our past has prepared us for these circumstances. So how can we make the best of this situation and keep sane at the same time?

That question kept us busy for quite a while. We want to make sure our people look after themselves and their loved ones, that's our priority. Always has been, always will be. Together with a group of managers at WeTransfer, we put together a set of guiding principles. We use them as reminders to support ourselves and each other throughout the week. Although they stem from our WeTransfer company values (we all own it, we’re optimistic, we enable, we’re inclusive), I hope you’ll find them relevant to you as well.

We communicate our boundaries and respect each other. We all own it.

Personal health is more important than anything, so we always choose that first. We're upfront about our time and availability. We take the time we need and allow others to do the same. 

We are not afraid to be vulnerable ourselves so others do not feel alone in their struggles. We are inclusive. 

We talk about the things that we're struggling with. We listen, we share, we unite. No judgment here. We know that we can always address any worries, fears, or thoughts with HR, our manager, someone on the Mental Health Task Force, a Trust Counsellor, or even people on our team.

We trust that we are all doing our best, and that's enough. We are optimistic.

We don't try to replicate our typical workday and productivity. We try our best and trust that's enough. We do not measure success the way we used to back when things were normal, because this isn't normal. 

We communicate what or if something is blocking us to make sure we don't block others. We all own it. 

We're not afraid to say if something is blocking us, whatever that might be. We let others know so they can help us, because we know it helps them too. We are all in this together. 

We look out for each other. We all own it. 

If we feel like someone on our team might be struggling or is dropping the ball, we help them get back on their feet. We look out for each other and have each other's backs.

Do try this at home

Check in, check out, and over-communicate.

We know this cannot make up for face-to-face communication, so we don't try to replicate it, but to keep it personal, start the day with a check in and end with a check out. It's another way of saying “hi, how are you, see you later”. 

Replace a chat at the coffee machine with small talk at the start of a meeting. 

Take the time for each other. Try to set aside 5 minutes at the beginning of a meeting to socialise and not get straight into work talk. 

Have we said “we” enough? Oh, well. We don't mind saying it one more time, because we are a team. And these socially distanced times are only bringing us closer together. 

Looking ahead to what lies before us, I hope we will not go back to the fast pace that used to rule our lives. When I was a student and spent six months traveling through Indonesia, I did not mind waiting two days for a bus or a boat to arrive. It gave me more time to explore and meet new people. Fast-forward a month, back at home, I’d get irritated if the metro was one minute late. 

And if there’s one thing I’m certain about during these uncertain times is that I don’t want to go back to that always-in-a-rush feeling when this is over. How will I be able to avoid that, you wonder? By making that conscious choice now.

Illustrations by Bea R Vaquero