What have been your top challenges with WFH and what techniques have helped you overcome them?

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CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
What I found at my previous company was internet connectivity issues, that was a big problem, because people never updated firmware on their old Linksys or whatever. And then all of a sudden, they have 20 devices on their network and it's slow, even though they have a fast connection, potentially. When this first started happening with COVID, my IT team was troubleshooting home networks, to make sure they were effective, because we were using Teams, and they don't really have any bandwidth accelerators like Zoom does. Every call we had with Teams was cutting out, and it was frustrating to everybody. So the CEO made it an initiative for IT, to go, “if we have to buy new routers or whatever, for everybody, let's just do it because we have to make these calls better. We have to make this work.” So in a lot of situations, we did that.

The hours were another thing, because not everybody wanted to work a regular 8:00 to 5:00. A lot of people were either working earlier or later, and it was harder to get a hold of people. We didn't really have any rules for when you had to be available specifically. But the biggest one for us was work-life balance, because now, there's no work, so you lose the balance because everything is home. So everything's life and not necessarily work, unless you have a big enough house to completely separate that.

Then our offices, when we were there, all had great food and everything, but now my fridge is right there and I can put whatever I want in it, and so that's distracting too. And then trying to coordinate meetings when you don't see people in the hallways, the hallway conversations aren't there.
6 Replies
VP, Customer and Technical Operations in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

But not having to book a conference room makes meetings so much easier.

CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees

That's for sure.

VP, Customer and Technical Operations in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

I mean, getting meetings was the biggest problem when we were all in the office. We always seemed short on conference rooms.

VP, Customer and Technical Operations in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
The first couple of months I felt like I was living at work. But I think I've come up with mechanisms to separate it, so I don't feel that way anymore. Because that was one of my big concerns about working from home. I used to take the train home. Whatever needed to get done, I would get it done on the train, or I'd relax. But I'd get home and I was done. And for the first couple months of work-from-home, with Slack, email, etc., It seemed like everybody was always online, and everybody was spun up. I would send the team member a question, and they would have to respond, or ask somebody else. Finally I said, "Okay, enough's enough. Unless it's an emergency, we're not communicating after six o'clock." And the time came about when I would just turn off my laptop, and charge my phone. I'm not very good at it still, but at least trying to make that transition, I think, has made it so that it works a lot better for myself and my family.
1 1 Reply
CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees

Yeah. Being in IT, we all are used to having 24/7 jobs, right? So we're relied on for everything. I still hear it from the CEO. If he has a problem with something, he doesn't want to go to the regular channels, he'll still come straight to me and say, "Hey, I have this problem. Can you quick fix it for me?" Right? So I still live in that world. So From that point-of-view, it didn't really change much.

CIO in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I think one of the things that has been the biggest downside I've seen is just the motivation. People are doing good work and they're staying, but I saw a good picture right at the start of the year, I think maybe Harvard Business Review published it. It was a graphic of a guy with a contraption with this thing kicking him in the butt to get him going. And I felt like that's kind of what I needed, and what I think other people needed, just to say like, here we go, another year in work-from-home. I came to this realization that I'm the one that's supposed to be doing all the, "Let's get this group going. It's a new year. Let's go." And that was really tough. The more people I've talked to, other leaders in the company, it's kind of a common sentiment. That challenge with motivation.
1 Reply
SVP & CIO, 501 - 1,000 employees

I constantly am reminding my staff, and myself probably more so than anybody, there have been a couple of silver linings in this. I think that helps the team keep going. It's on us, as leaders, to remind people to take advantage of this, as much as this has been such a negative impact on our lives, I think you can also turn it into some positives. If you don't, I think you find people are probably starting to find themselves in maybe a bad state of mind.

CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees
I definitely miss the office. I'm at a point where I have a WeWork subscription. It's good for me. I go to the one right by Snowflake. I'll go there once a week. It's just good for the family also. When I'm home and my wife's stay-at-home teaching, I'll go into the kitchen to make coffee, and then try to solve something she is working on. My wife just kind of gives me the side eye, and like, "I got this, you don't need to just come and solve all of a sudden. Just make your coffee and go back to your office." So I think it's good just from a mental standpoint. Also, I really like when you're at work, you're thinking about work. And then when you're coming home, you're thinking about home. And so it's a good physical separation for me.
SVP & CIO, 501 - 1,000 employees
Working from home, sometimes I think the staff gets a little bit worn down from feeling like they’re always at work. You leave your bedroom, you brush your teeth, you have a cup of coffee and then next thing you're in your office, right?I always try to remind people of a couple of things that, at least just for me personally, help. 

There's all these little tricks we started to learn after we settled in for, whatever it's been, 9 months. Where it's like, get outside every day, stop and have lunch. Don't eat at your laptop, because I was running into that terrible habit. For people that have family that they live with, and not everyone can do this too, all of a sudden I spend way more time with my kids. Lunchtime now, we hang out. And my kids love to do puzzles, so there's a huge puzzle always on the dining room table, and people are eating lunch. Little things like that. I never did that before. I was traveling and I was never home.

Take an opportunity to force yourself to get outside every day. I don't care what it is. You get up from your desk, and you go outside. You take a meeting, only audio, put the headset on and walk around the block. Get outside, get some fresh air, because you will start to go crazy if you don't.
2 Replies
VP, Customer and Technical Operations in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

Well, it varies. I mean, I'm in the same situation as you Eric. I mean, I watch shows with my son before work, we have lunch together some days. But then I have a team member who lives in a studio in San Francisco, and he was afraid to go outside because of all the people around. But then, you have situations like that, where I made sure not to say how great it is to work from home, and make him feel even more miserable.

CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees

Yep. I've done outreach to my team to actually enjoy that Blue Bottle right across from SurveyMonkey. I've been there many times now, and it's just a great natural place to meet up. I've done the outreach to my team, and even people adjacent to the team. Knowing the Tenderloin example, or someone that has three roommates in a very tiny SF apartment, and it's hard for them. Sometimes it’s about giving folks a reason just to have coffee. And depending on your comfort level of things, I felt like getting them a little bit more human connection, other than Safeway and their roommates, has been helpful.

CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
We've done a great job using Teams to meet, collaborate, see faces and experience togetherness. What's missing - still missing - is the 'water cooler' communication and unexpected pop-ins. While we've tried to replicate that convivial experience, you just can't plan or coordinate it. Zoom happy hours are fun but also feel like work. We're missing the spontaneous exchanges. I feel like we've chipped away at all of the challenges except the ones we used to not even consider to be deeply important.
CIO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
One of the challenges we faced was technical validation exams for candidates, we normally hire developers, and our development division requires that developers are technically validated using an interactive technical exam running on a real development environment; candidates used to take these exams at our offices.

We used Azure Labs to create a template for a Developer Machine that runs the tools required, the machine also ran a version of FFMPEG that video records the entire user session over RDP and dumps that into Azure Storage, with the convenience of Azure Labs the team was able to enroll candidates using email and they proctored the exams using Web Cams. the whole setup wasn't expensive and did the needed pretty well!

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Director of Systems Operations in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
By far the best place for me to travel was Shanghai. Loved the city and the vibe. Singapore is also an amazing place to have to be stationed for work.
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