Working from Home? – Our Experiences

The Proving Ground team recently held a webinar focused on our experience with remote working. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are shift to remote working strategies. We wanted to provide some of our perspective – Proving Ground presently has its 100% of its team working remotely from 4 different US states. In the webinar we share our first experiences, how we have our offices set up, technologies we use for collaboration, and long-term opportunities for businesses.

You can watch the full recording here:

Working from home has many advantages but does take adjustment on behalf of managers, team members, and clients. We encourage companies to be patient as teams adjust to their new work environment. Managers and staff members will need to adjust their ability to track a team’s progress – it can be stressful to initially not have the immediacy of being able to look over the shoulder of a team mate. While the home office has the advantages of creating a focused environment with fewer interruptions, working remotely requires high levels of trust and accountability.

Here are some thoughts by the Proving Ground team…

Kristen Schulte’s thoughts…

Working from home was not initially a natural fit for me.  I was lucky to ease into it over a number of years. My struggles were on both ends of the spectrum. I struggled at times to stay focused, especially when I didn’t have a clear idea of what specifically I should accomplish that day, or how to start an unfamiliar or minimally-defined project. At other times, I would struggle to remember to call it a day when I was in a state of ‘flow’ or thinking “just one more thing to try…” to fix a bug.

To deal with both problems, I found that writing things down (digitally or otherwise) is massively helpful.  Having a to-do list or sketching out a work plan for a larger project helps keep tasks manageable and stymies my inner procrastinator.  Writing myself a “where I left off” note in my personal Slack DM helps me walk away for the day, feeling content that I can pick up in the morning.  Often I find I think of ideas to solve a problem an hour or two later, and I DM myself my ideas so I can move on and enjoy my evening.

Trygve Wastvedt thoughts…

Take some time to be intentional about the change and figure out what this means for you. The only thing I can say for certain is that everyone needs something different. I like windows, plants, the option of a dedicated space (though I often move around the house), and wireless headphones for pacing/squatting. If I feel myself hitting a wall, I take a walk, at least to the fridge, maybe outside.

Communication becomes even more critical. Slack is fun, but it can be very distracting. I reduce Slack and email notifications and rely on @ mentions or direct calls over Zoom to grab my attention, allowing me to focus. Reducing the barriers to video calling – time, complexity, habit, and expectations – with a coworker has been critical. It makes me that much more likely to opt for a face-to-face conversation, which is nicer and frequently more efficient.

Steve Sanda’s thoughts…

Working from home can be a big change in daily life. If you’re like me, social interaction is extremely important, which can take a big impact when social distancing is the new norm. Have patience and be honest with yourself – reach out to corworkers, friends, and family often on any modern video chat platform (FaceTime and Zoom are my top picks).

Additionally, technology can make remote work either pain free or a complete nightmare. Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box are all viable solutions for lightweight cloud file management, but might not be appropriate (or even established) for your organization. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) offer a secure entry into your office’s infrastructure, giving access to shared resources like network drives from your home. This can be convenient for simple things like authoring a Word document, but can cause major bottlenecks for saving to central on a Revit model when working remotely. IT groups should work to establish clear policies for remote working, encourage staff to not save work locally on machines and stay diligent on using shared project folders that often have backups and disaster recovery plans.