We don’t want to go back to the office again!

We do realize that this statement may be a bit too dramatic but stay with us as we try to explain why we made such an unequivocal statement.

Work-from-home and it’s an almost not-safe-for-work acronym, WFH, is the new normal. WFH has been a great addition to everyone’s vocabularies but the application and implementation of this phrase into our day-to-day has seen varying degrees of either ease or difficulty.

Trium being a cloud-first company, we found it easy to navigate the WFH conundrum. As some point, we started questioning why we had an office in the first space and if we could use the rent to fund some posh party. However, it isn’t all black and white; there were varying shades of silver and grey.

We started with the physical phase of the changes, we decided to optimize the cost that we were incurring as an organization, we engaged with our landlord and facility manager on how to get rebates on facility management fees since we were not using the facilities. We also engaged with our internet service provider and reduced the bandwidth on our internet connectivity since we’ve all gone remote.

Next was the work efficiencies. We reiterated the need to be cyber-security conscious, so we provided additional security layers. We inculcated more work tools in our workflows — Slack, Confluence, Jira, DocuSign (all documents are signed electronically, no exceptions). We encouraged and now fully implement real-time collaboration on documents using Microsoft Office 365. We relied heavily on Zoom and sparingly on Teams — the choice of use was a result of ease and adaptability. It made us; we didn’t make it. We also provided weekly data stipend for every member of the team.

Surprisingly, we found out that we’re still humans. The hard truth is some of us may not need to work while we were remote (like our office assistants) so we made adequate arrangements for them. We continued with our morning standup meetings with the whole team on the status of work, blockers, and overall progress.

Our daily virtual water-cooler; tatafo has its usefulness.

Every evening at 4:45 pm, we dragged our ragged selves to Zoom for a video water-cooler. The rule is that in those golden 15 minutes, we will talk about everything and anything but work. We’ve had conversations that have ranged from treatment of afro hair to growing out a beard/moustache to semi-cooking competitions to spelling bees and word games. We’ve also shared in personal joys, victories and even losses.

This evening events may have proven to be the most strengthening part of our WFH adventure. Let’s explain a bit more. While we were working physically in the office, we worked in an open plan office and shared lunch every day with each other so there were lots of bants, candid conversation, honest and open talks with each other; long story short we created memories. This allowed us better to understand each other, foster a familial, open and honest culture which invariably allowed us better to complement each other while working effectively as a team. These evening sessions, even though they may not compare to these physical interactions, gave us some of it back.

August 15, 2020 is 5 clear months since we went remote and it has individually and as a group shown us how best we worked (having sampled both work options) and taught us a couple of lessons. At this 5 months’ mark review, we can see that:

– Performance on the job has increased as we’ve now harnessed the efficiencies that come with a properly managed remote team.

– Most people detest routine — when the evening meetings started getting boring, we had to switch it up a bit and add things that made it more exciting. We’re now committed to continue doing this to ensure that everyone stays engaged and connected.

– Connection is important and mental health is inviolable. We noticed that the way people feel about each other and themselves has a direct effect on how they work. We’ve included one-on-one sessions with management and have actively encouraged boundaries, personal fun times, and most importantly adequate rest.

– No one is superhuman, whether working from home or physically, mistakes are part of the learning process. Having understandable, albeit unrealistic, expectations because one is working from home does more harm than good. When these mistakes, which are bound to happen, do happen, we acknowledge how they happened and work towards ensuring they don’t happen again.

– Remote hiring is here to stay, and one has to be skilled in this fine art. Before now, we de-emphasized the commute time to the office and remote work requests were denied; now, the ability to work remotely is sacrosanct. We’ve gone through several hiring since March and we learned a lot during that process.

Do we miss the office? Yes and no. For most of us, the flexibility of work, the disappearance of the blues of commuting, and cost savings have made us start asking that question, do we ever want to go back to the office? While for a few of us, the ability to pop our heads into another’s desk/door and crack that joke, give that jab, affirm work done in real-time, share that smile that can only come from an inside joke, eat off another’s plate at lunchtime and share those random but sure to happen vent sessions (blink if you can relate) has sure been missed.

Nonetheless, we know that for the next few months, we will keep working fully remote. A hybrid option may very well be considered in the future. In the spirit of human connection and keeping the vibe alive, we’ve a virtual party planned for the last day of this month. Yes, there will be booze, and no, you aren’t invited!

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