Working remote — a diary

Friday, 13, 2 pm

Dear office,

It’s been 4 hours since we decided we can’t go on together because we might be toxic to each other. I miss your desks. Your computers. Your chairs. Even my coworkers. We all did a great job over there to keep you safe.

Today I started my working program with no shaking hands (yes, we all shake hands, no matter the gender), without being late, and with no exasperating noises from the coffee machine. Today was definitely not a good day. I wonder how it has been for my partners in crime.

But there is no great love story without lovers being apart at least once, right? Why would our agency affair go anyhow else? This will be amazing, after all, I promise you.

With love, always yours, faithfully and so on,

Each and every High Contrast Teammate

Friday, 13, 4 pm

Dear office,

It’s been 6 hours since we’ve been apart today.

I sincerely regret all those times I’ve cheated on you with home office crap. My neighbors suck. A dog is barking on the 3rd floor, and I’ve finished almost all the tasks for today. I’ve sung out loud half of my playlist and disturbed no one. Why do I even bother? For God’s sake, Andrew, please stop whatever you’re doing that makes Elena yell at you.

Slack is no fun if you can’t announce to your colleagues out loud that you’ve sent them a message. I wish they could hear me calling.

I have to leave now. I promise I will come back with updates.

Friday, 13, 6 pm

Dear office,

We’re staying strong for you. We’re constantly chatting. We even set up a video conference to feel more comfortable with the situation. Isn’t it great? We…

Oh, come on, it is not so tragic to work from home. Yes, it is a bit depressing at the beginning because of the morning routine we all have at the office, but at least we can keep our pajamas on. And this is happening for us these days. We don’t want to talk about it and turn this article into a drama. And no, this is not one of those sources you can learn how to prevent anything from. Nor a survival kit. This is our adventure out of the office.

What home office actually means

Usually, we would be more than excited to have a day off. I mean to work from home, not like off-off. You know, that pressure of 8 hours/day is not the same. We could handle 9, 10, 12 hours of working, everything is fine, we’re gonna launch those websites, we can handle the deadlines, we took our vitamins, the meeting is set and so on. Everything is under control.

When the Universe is sending you hints.

The funniest thing is that we have no clue about how to interact with each other from home. This is insane. We’re not used to telling jokes on Slack without hearing all the laughs starting all of a sudden. Now we feel like talking to each other more than ever before.

Introverts Paradise? Think twice

Yes, it is that moment when you realize that your introvert thing is pretty much bullshit. We all have trouble with this home office thing. As I said before, it is a pleasure to do it once in a while, it is healthy, and you give your colleagues time to miss you and figure out they genuinely value you (you do, guys, don’t you?).

But what about all the fun sharing Instagram stories with your dream office? What do you mean no rock-paper-scissors? How do we know who’s gonna write on the flip chart at the weekly meeting otherwise? Did anyone take a picture of the previous list of tasks? Where do we order food from today? What? Hummus? We got hummus. Master of design, do you have those wireframes ready for feedback? I miss the cake, hurry up!

The perfect setup

Eat those snacks, design that logo, rock the world!

Nothing of these makes any bit of sense now. You can’t miss the cake; your mom made 4. No one writes on the flip chart; master Trello got us covered from the beginning (we can’t ignore you now, congrats, mission accomplished). Feedback through video calls? Say no more! At least clients are not so willing to solve things through calls anymore (God bless the house noises in the background), and they converted to all-solving and most practical emails. The parallel Universe with no ‘’can we have a Skype?’’ happens right now. Isn’t it the happiest scenario for everybody? Now let’s go to our internal setup for the High Contrast team.

Do you all have a desk? Cool. Webcams? No webcams? We’re gonna use the ones we have at the office. Hmm, I might use this chair. Chair, anybody? Come on, it is an ergonomic one, take it, you don’t want to get back pain. What else, what else, oh, right! (and here comes the funniest part: the computer! )— Yes, we took everything we needed to avoid excuses not to use our 100% work potential.

First meeting from home

This part would be nothing but a transcript of our first attempt to still work all together via Skype. Enjoy.

E: So, guys, we must be altogether in the same place. We’re gonna do this through a video conference on Skype. Does everybody have Skype?

Several people are typing….

B: Yea

M: Yup

A is typing…

I: Yes

D: Here we go!

A is typing…

A: Yes!

E: Cool, we have a test call in 15 minutes.

One eternity later… (of course, we respect timing, we just forgot to sync our watches!)

*Skype ringtone*

E: Pick up the call, everybody! Here is what we can do: we see each other each morning around 9, we stay in the call as long as we need, and we dress up like we’re going to the office. We have lunch dates on video calls as well. We’re getting through this together! Is everybody cool? Now, who needs the VPN?

A is typing…

B: I think it is a must only for the designers. Diskstation shit. Can I turn off my camera now? I don’t want to see you chewing all day long.

M: Come on, you’re chewing at the office all the time! Partners in crime.

A is typing….

A: Guys?

A is typing….

M: Can we all use Figma now?

B: Yes

A is typing…

A: My computer crashed down! I was using Illustrator as usual, and suddenly…

B: Check the USB port.

R: USB port, check connections

Several people are typing…

D: Guys, do you have a minute? There is a bug we should fix.

I: Hello, do you hear me?

D: We don’t hear you.

I: And how did you answer my questions?

A is typing…

D: Stop talking; we don’t hear you!

A: yes

R: How did you do that? I want to see myself on the bigger tab; I want a full screen with me, actually

A: Guys, I can’t fix my computer…

E: Is anybody working over there? Focus, please. Thanks.

And basically, this is how our test conference went like. Luckily we did better on the next tries. We have become absolute masters of it. Is it maybe cause we decided to do it only when it was a must and not all day long for fun? Hmmm…

When everything gets a rhythm

To be honest, we’ve been a little bit concerned about the way this home office period would affect our work schedule and processes, but we truly made it in the end. It took like two days, but we figured out how to use the VPN, sync data, deal with counting working hours, and make all the programs work like usual. Figma is still an exclusivist diva, Illustrator won’t cooperate until your device is a premium rank, and Photoshop is already sick of being the backup choice.

After all the struggles, we settled down. The weekly meeting was quick and straightforward for everybody. Our office-out-of-office is now a work-friendly environment. The internal communication finally got 80% focus on the actual tasks and deadlines (we still show off with our new recipes and debate whether we should do some yoga or fitness after work).

Do you know what else happened? Here’s a hint: have you ever wondered what your colleagues are listening to in their headphones? Neither have we. Until now. And this gave us an excellent idea: to start working on our agency playlist on Spotify. We shared our favorite songs, the moody beats, and the guilty pleasures of our taste in music. Yes, yes, add this song here; of course, we want to listen to what your friend Jimmy sent you. Wow, how did we survive the work schedule without this artist until now?! That’s so cool, type the article on this beat! Your email is complete; press ‘send’ on the next drum, you’ll feel amazing. Do all these sound crazy? Here you have our inspirational and uplifting tunes. Feel free to suggest us some more:

How do you guys deal with the home office safety measure? Do you have any tips & tricks to share? Drop us a line with the craziest things that have happened lately at work!

‘Everything is going to be fine’ collection.

Stay safe. See you online!