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The Kyan Survival Guide to Working from Home

I have always baulked at the idea of working from home. Probably because when I first did it, it was forced upon me. I was living in a small maisonette with two small children, and had to setup a workstation and edit suite at the end of my bed in a bedroom which already contained a cot and usually, a noisy, often damp and noxious smelling tiny human.

However when times got really tough, it was easy enough to ICQ friends and colleagues and arrange to discuss work at the pub or coffee shop. 

Fast forward to March/April 2020 and we now are all advised to be working from home, not meeting up with other humans IRL beyond our own immediate household and the pubs are shut. We have entered a new age of enforced lockdown. For the team at Kyan, who have always prided themselves on working closely together in a specially designed environment and who have all seen the value in being able to talk in person, this has come with its own unique set of challenges.

IT & operationally our transition has been pretty seamless (check out this SaaSy post by Laurent Maguire), but how do we now remain positive, keep smiling and continue to do great work, all whilst we are all stuck/trapped at home?

 

Chris Myers' (Product Designer) WFH space – one of our favourites.

 

Some of the areas which have helped us so far are:

Flexy time

Now that some of us are having to play teacher, babysitter, and full-time parent it means that you can’t always be available when you’d like to be, so don’t force it. Roll with the punches and pick up when you can. 

Without the anchor of the studio and a regular commute the 9-5 mindset makes so much less sense. If you wake early and want to start early, do it.

Zoom, zoom, zoom

We have kept our weekly staff meet going, we just all do it on Zoom now. It’s less of a broadcast now and more collaborative so anyone can standup and have their say, share how their week has gone and thank their team mates. More than ever now it’s important for us to recognise each other and thank each other for their hard work in challenging circumstances. 

We’ve also opened the Zoom Arms post-meet where we can all enjoy a drink together at the end of the week.

Healthy body, healthy mind

There are some early morning Zoom workout sessions happening where you can join your team mates in keeping that body in shape. I also hear rumours of dedicated Slack channels with physical hourly challenges. I’m lucky enough to live close to the countryside where I can bathe myself in the great outdoors once a day on a bike or with a dog.

Keep it stupid, simple

Being able to laugh at ourselves and at each other has been even more important than usual and creating platforms to do this has helped. Our weekly staff meet now involves dressing up with a prize for the best outfit. Some have even threatened nudity.

 

WFH Staff Meet, Week 1 & 2: Tom as 'This is fine' dog from Gunshow, and 'man interrupted' from BBC News.

 

WFH Staff Meet, Week 1: Various Kyan team members, from Chewbacca to an undisclosed beach.

 

Rich, our Head of Finance has also been organising a weekly Through the Keyhole feature, where he hosts a video feature where we all have to guess whose house is on show.

We’ve run team quizzes and game show re-creations at lunchtimes, such as Two Truths, One Lie. This week it was fascinating to learn that Carmen was sponsored by Antonio Banderas to study in Canada and met both him and his wife Melanie Griffiths during the interview process. It was also disappointing to know that Chris hasn’t actually written an erotic novel.

Team thoughts

I’ve been chatting with some of the team about what oblique strategies they have been using to keep the faith, stay positive and embrace the new world order.

 

Carmen López, Software Engineer

I’ve built a whole routine to keep me sane during this time. I’ve set a schedule so I can start and finish at the same time everyday. I tried to create an office space that I only use when working. I’m always playing music in the background to keep the Kyan’s office ambience.

I tend to video call my teammates instead of communicating through Slack to stay social and have closer interaction. Also, I always ask how they are finding working from home before jumping into work related chats.

I’ve moved my workouts to the morning right before work. I found I can start the day full of energy and more awake this way. If I find it difficult to stay focused I’d create a to-do work list adding a reward per task. This means I can have a small break after I complete each of those tasks (i.e. have a healthy snack, play a bit with the dog, sit in the garden for some minutes or have a cup of coffee/tea).

 

Zoe Turner, Client Partner

I’ve developed a really nice morning routine. I get up, do a YouTube workout at 8am (sometimes with the work girls over Zoom), have a bowl of cereal and a latte. I then shower, and get to my desk for around 9, or just after. It’s actually so much nicer than my normal frantic rush to get out of bed and get to the train! I’m tidier at home, I’m regularly calling my granny, I am cooking more from scratch, and I’m typically finishing work at a better hour because I don’t have a commute.

 

Michael Hogg, Software Engineer

I go out for a walk every day. Walking outside in the fresh air and sunshine and beautiful countryside is always a lovely experience, and even more so in this current situation. I have regular video chats with my colleagues during the day. It can be easy to spend all day working in silence, typing messages to each other, but seeing and hearing each other is really helpful for feeling less isolated and more connected with each other.

I listen to a lot of happy, joyful music. I've been listening to a lot of Tycho (one of my favourite artists), and it's amazingly helpful for keeping one's spirits up! At the end of the working day, I switch off my work laptop and completely disconnect from work until the following morning. It's so important to make that clear separation between work time and personal life!

 

Kristin Devey, Head of Client Services

Some sun salutations in the morning sunrise and evening sunset have been lovely this week. And wearing my jazziest, most colourful clothes has made me happy!

 

Olly Percival, Head of Partnerships

Working from home means that I can afford the luxury of fitting my day around what I want to get done. So I might take a little longer over making coffee and play with my newborn son, Finn. 

 

Josh Jimenez Bedrock, Software Engineer

As I’ve worked from home a lot before, I try and keep habits that cross over between environments. I’ll make sure I talk to people, wander about when I can, watch or read something funny to keep moral and motivation up, and listen to music.

 

Ben Horsley-Summer, Marketing Manager

I’m a bit of a homebody and have always had a good WFH setup, so I’ve slotted into this lifestyle change quite easily. A few things keep me sane: going for trail runs once I finish work. And spending one hour (strictly) a day tackling some DIY on the house, or fixing things I never got around to fixing! And my wife’s excellent cooking.

 

Amy Johnstone, Events Producer

Workouts with the girls, 5pm wine chats with my friends (talking about anything but current affairs!), dog walks in the sunshine with my batpig, writing a list of all the DIY jobs I need doing on the house, and overlooking the garden, I have found myself naming the birds. So far we have Megatron the Massive Magpie, Robsy Robin and Kanye the Eurasian Collared Dove. I think I’m losing the plot.

 

The upside

As hard as it is for everyone right now, there have been some positives. I’ve enjoyed seeing kids and pets in video calls and in some ways we are actually getting to know each other better. I’ve enjoyed the early morning walks, the levelled up lunches and of course not having to get dressed.

But perhaps the best thing has been seeing everyone come together and really support each other and work hard for the business. It’s only when times are tough that you get an opportunity to show your real mettle and I’m really proud to be part of a team that has shown great strength, spirit and generosity.