“De-clutter your calendar with just this one weird trick…”
Recently there have been countless articles about the mass “Work From Home” experiment, describing it as mostly successful for maintaining productivity while reducing commute times and increasing work/life balance. In theory this is correct but the reality is far from perfect. Unfortunately, the transition from “work/life” balance into “remote work/life” has skewed heavily towards the “work” part. Current remote work often means a never-ending day beset by cluttered calendars filled with endless meetings. We’re over scheduled, fatigued from too much screen time, and stripped of our daily flexibility – which happens to be the best part of working from home. We need a new way to work from home – we need remote office hours.
💡 Remote work is just as productive and just as good for employee morale as working IRL. It’ll be that way forever!
Remote office hours solves 2 problems: over-scheduling and also being glued to your computer for 8 straight hrs. Yes, that indescribable feeling of exhaustion you get after eight (or ten or 14!) hours of back to back video conference calls is a real thing. And the information we have about video chat fatigue doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture. IRL offices give you the flexibility to walk to meeting rooms or head down the street for lunch or down to the cafeteria. In remote work, unless a conscious effort is made by managers or execs- employees may feel they need to be available 100% between 9-5pm.
Even so, when COVID-19 forced most of us to suddenly start working from home, we were lucky the Zooms, Meets and Teams of the world were there to pick up the slack (heh heh). It’s just that now we’re stuck in a vortex of video meetings and it’s sapping us of our time and turning us into screen zombies.
There is a solution – but it requires a new way of working. We need to rethink not only the way we work, but when we work. Remote work needs a reshaping that will maximize knowledge-sharing and communication, while freeing up your actual schedule. What’s the point of working from home if you’re constantly drained and can’t carve out time for that volleyball game? Or that acupuncture session? Or to actually get your work done? Where’s the balance?
💡 The solution to meeting death is remote office hours!
One way to address the challenges of remote work is to adopt a new way of working from home that reduces meeting overload and lack of flexibility by setting designated “office hours.” Divide the typical work day in two parts: 1) a period of synchronized work where your whole team is available and 2) the rest of the day is designated as async or flex-time.
This is isn’t exactly revolutionary. Companies with distributed and remote teams have been employing versions of office hours for years. But with the sudden influx of remote work, companies with no prior WFH experience were thrust into the situation without a real plan. So how does this work exactly? Here are some considerations to make:
- Find Your Office Hours: Every company will decide how long and when they divide their days. Many companies are spread across timezones, so finding the right times is crucial to making office hours work. Suggested best practices include establishing a 2-4 hour block of time for people to be in the virtual office.
- Be Prepared: Office hours are only beneficial if everyone uses those blocked hours efficiently. For example, team members should come prepared with questions and answers to the day’s most pressing needs.
- Digital Tools: Video chat, emails, text, collaboration tools – use every digital application at your disposal to make those synchronized work hours as productive as possible. Combining designated availability with new digital tools is a recipe for success.
💡 Try office hours in Katmai Office and connect with your team like never before.
Katmai Office is a 3D, browser-based virtual environment where your team can be together in realtime. In Katmai, movement is the key. Being able to move around unlocks impromptu collaboration and serendipitous interactions with your team. The best part is you only need a computer and a webcam to join.
When everyone is available in Katmai Office and working together at the same time, you’ll start to notice the meetings magically disappear from your calendar. And where there’s less meetings, there’s more flexibility. The tide is turning. Try office hours, de-clutter your calendar and get your life back.