Working from Home
September 23, 2020
One of the biggest challenges of 2020 has got to be the transition to working from home. If you are lucky enough to have a job that makes it possible to do, you’ll have gone through a huge learning curve – lack of socialisation, possible lack of collaboration and the basics – setting up your workstation in your home. Here at Mash, we’ve had the option to work from home since day one. We’re not saying it’s an easy feat, especially for workplaces who have never had it as an option or thought about it, but with team contact and good project management, it’s definitely possible. Here, Sharney and Bec explore the ups and downs of working from home and what has worked at Mash.
Bec: You’re listening to Mash Pod, digital marketing that’s actionable, insightful, and understandable. No pitching, just takeaways. Okay. Hey, everybody. I’m here with our amazing creative director, Sharney Ryan. Hey, Sharney. How are you?
Sharney: Hey, I’m good. Thanks, Bec.
Bec: Cool. Cool. So everybody in the world is basically working from home at the moment in some shape or form. But something cool about Mash Media is we’ve been working from home for like a couple of years.
Sharney: Yes, we have.
Bec: So I remember when I first started working for Mash, I was really happy and surprised, I suppose, that it was an option. So what kind of reasons did you make that available to the company?
Sharney: I guess, to be honest, it just came from personal experience. So, you know, I’ve always worked in the corporate world in the big offices, big busy bustling offices and found that I’m less productive when I go in the office because, you know, you go in, you’ve got the person sitting next to you and across from you, and then people coming and talking to you. And you know, you go in the tea room to make a cup of tea and you end up chatting for half an hour with somebody else and I just found it was always really, really distracting. Sorry, I mean there are certain benefits to it, of course, but I just found I preferred working from home myself because I was just so much more productive and because I was more productive, it allowed me to have more flexibility, suited my lifestyle better. I’m one of those people that I’m a bit of a weirdly early morning riser that come 3:00 in the afternoon, my brain’s a little bit whooshy. I prefer to just get cracking at 5 or 6 a.m. and, you know, try to slow down on brain straining work in the late afternoon. So I just found working from home worked better for me so I just wanted to make sure that when I built Mash that I, you know, gave you all the opportunity to work, whatever works best for you. So always, you know, you all have the choice of working in an office or working from home or doing pod like what you’ve always done until recent times.
Bec: Yeah. So I’ve always liked both options. Like I like the social ability of working in an office and collaboration and things like that. But I also, like you say, like when there’s a deadline coming up or you’re under the pump, it’s just so much easy to work from home because as you say, your whole day can become really useless conversations at like the coffee machine or in the kitchen and things like that, and you just sort of the whole day gets away from you.
Sharney: Yeah, exactly.
Bec: So, yeah, I mean, I think we’re not going to sort of cross to other Mashees for this particular episode, but I know from talking to like Cammie in the SEO department, she really loves working from home because she has a really excellent office set up at home. I’ve seen it on our frequent Zoom meetings and, you know, she’s got a really beautiful little courtyard and backyard and, you know, her office is set up just the way she likes it. And, you know, going from that to sort of like a noisy co-working office if you’ve got a lot of work to do is a huge challenge, I suppose. So I can see why it’s really attractive to most people.
Sharney: Yeah. Well, then, of course, we’ve got Patrice, our technical team leader who’s deathly allergic to peanuts and found when he was forced to work in corporate office spaces, people would forget bringing him something that would end up sending him to hospital when it was on a really regular occurrence, it was happening. So he just desperately wanted to find a job that allowed him to work in the safeness of his own home where he wasn’t at risk of being killed every day.
Bec: Oh my gosh. Yeah. And I mean, we shouldn’t laugh, but that is a real thing, right. There’s so many people with allergies that cannot exist with a whole bunch of strange people in the building. And I guess technically, myself included, I mean, I have some weird chemical allergies that I’m kind of on top of, but yeah, I don’t break out at all working from home because I know exactly what’s happening here.
Bec: Well, I mean working from home isn’t without its challenges. I mean a lot of people these days are finding that out the hard way because they’ve been thrust into it, but we’ve sort of rolled with the punches over the last few years and kind of made it work for us. So I guess from my perspective as like the project manager, some of the challenges working with a team that’s completely remote is availability, we’re all in different time zones. Just the collaboration using different software and things like that and I suppose also just getting to know each other because, you know, when you work in the same office, you can get to know each other really well, but it is a bit difficult remotely.
Sharney: Yeah, that’s true. There is absolute challenges, but I also look at these challenges both ways, right? There’s challenges when you work in an office, you know, traffic jams, fire drills, distractions. So I think it’s one of those things where there’s challenges no matter what your work situation is, and it’s really up to a business owner to sort of look at the situation regardless of what it is and understand there’s pros and cons to each and try to mitigate the issues as much as possible. And a lot of that I have found just comes down to knowing your team, just knowing your employees, knowing, you know, how they work, you know.
I know, for example, Michael, our paid ads manager, he’s an early morning riser like myself so I know that I can contact him early in the morning, whereas we know that Camille and Patrice said, they both, you know, prefer to start at 9, but they’re often online later, you know. We all have different schedules, I mean, you guys all know that I have to pick up my children at 3:00 and so there’s a little bit of chaos there between 3 and 7 p.m. where the minis run riot, but it’s just all knowing each other. It’s knowing, you know, what our life is like, how we like to work, and just working with that, I found, you know, there is challenges, as you said, one of those being the missing social interaction.
And what Mash has done to sort of help that is, of course, we do our regular Zoom chats where we get everybody on a Friday afternoon, bring your kids, you know, have a pizza, have a beer. I often put on the pizza, send them wine bottles which helps everybody feel, you know, together. And we also do a end of year conference which just gets everybody together. We normally rent a big mansion to stay in, or a farm stay like we did last year.
Bec: That was nice.
Sharney: And yeah, we’d just be taking turns cooking together, we do a little bit of more work, you know, end of year, what did we learn? What can we do better and what’s planned for next year? But at the same time, we’re getting a chance to spend time together and, you know, they’ve always been one of the high points of everybody’s year is our conference is a bit of a shame this year, I don’t know if we’ll be able to, we won’t be able to do it this year, but it just means we’ll have to do a bigger and better one next year, there’s lot’s of other things that we’ve done to help.
Bec: Yeah, that’s it. And I really liked that end of year thing because as we’ve sort of both touched on, yes, the socialization is difficult remotely, but I could tell you no problem, I don’t feel like a stranger to anyone else in the team, you know, even if I only see them once a year or twice a year, you know, I can get together with anyone of them over lunch or a drink or something like that and feel like I’m in the office with them all day. Like when I went to, you know, Brisbane last year, I went out and had dinner with Michael and I was there for a holiday. It was just like, “Hey, I’m in town. Let’s catch up because we never get to.” So I think all of the things you’ve done in an effort to make sure it’s as sort of seamless as possible has totally worked and I think that’s a testament because we’re all still here.
Sharney: That’s true. That is true. Well, yeah, just because there’s distance it doesn’t mean you can’t still operate as one, operate as a team, operate as a family, which I’ve always worked to instill, you know, as you know every time I’m on the phone to you my four-year-old is like, “Oh, love Bec. She’s my best friend.”
Bec: Yeah, we’re best buddies.
Sharney: Exactly, you know, because she likes playing hide and seek with you at the conferences and Michael knows of Ella’s toilet training habits because she feels the need to tell him every time we’re on the phone and you know, she loves Patrice and Camille because they sound funny with their French accent. It’s like it’s just you can create a family feel and it’s not hard to do it, you know. There’s some really great tools out there like Slack. Slack is fantastic for just having those quick chats like what you have in an office where you can upload pictures, you can upload random things. I mean, as you know, Adam, our financial controller feels the need to put dad jokes up every week and then it becomes like between him Patrice, and Michael, who can do the worst dad jokes.
Bec: Oh, man. Yeah. Some of them are like really hunting us, aren’t they? I just roll my eyes every time.
Sharney: But we get a good laugh and we all operate as a team. So there is definitely ways to make the best of the fact that we’re all forced into this new norm of having to work from home, making people still feel connected. You know, some of the little things, how I’ve utilized Slack is just… remember why I sort of said things like, okay, I want everybody to stand up from their desk, go out outside, arms up to the sky, deep breath, send me a photo and upload your pick of everyone having a stretch outside, you know. Send your favorite yoga pose.
Bec: We probably need to do that today actually because I don’t think we’ve done it for a little while.
Sharney: Oh, we haven’t, but we’re planning something next week, Bec, pizza night.
Bec: Amazing. I love pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza?
Sharney: Yeah. If I knew you weren’t in Melbourne, don’t worry, I’ll send you a commissary bottle of wine.
Bec: Thank you. But speaking of things like Slack, I’ll just quickly talk about some of the technology we use because yes, Slack is fantastic for that. It’s so much easier than emailing back and forth or getting on the phone every time. I mean, getting on the phone is awesome, but if you just need to get straight to the point, Slack is far superior to things like Skype and things like that because there’s just so many things you can do with it, and I think everyone would agree.
Sharney: Yeah. And it’s available on your mobile and your desktop too, which makes it really handy.
Bec: Yeah. And it updates really quickly as well so there’s no lag between your email and desktop, I find, which there was with things like Skype and Google Hangouts. But speaking of Google, I mean we use G Suite to like run everything like our drive and our emails and stuff like that because it’s just all in one spot. You can access it from anywhere which is what you need. I remember in probably more than 10 years ago now, I worked at a company where we used terminal servers with like Microsoft IAS. And the whole idea was, yes, you can go to any computer and log on, but it was this whole big production. And it wasn’t browser-based, it was, you know, you had to install a whole bunch of stuff on your computer and it was just if you had technical difficulties and you’re on your own, there was nothing you could do whereas with G Suite we’ve…
Sharney: Oh my god, yes.
Bec: Yeah, we had this… we can just [crosstalk 00:11:38.365]…
Sharney: And the D drives and the S drives and the local drives in there.
Bec: Yeah. And then if one of the servers at the main office died, yours would die at home and then you had to like trudge into the office. It was a whole nightmare. It would just… it would ruin the whole day. But we’re on top of it and I think also a clubhouse for our project management has been a bit of a godsend as well.
Sharney: It has. Obviously project management tools, everyone needs to find what suits them but I think Slack is something that really could just suit anyone, right?
Sharney: Because it’s short messages, long messages, you can have channels, you can have individual one-on-ones group chats, you can add videos, files, Google drive files, PDFs, like it’s just so broad. You can actually even call from it, you can even call and video call from it.
Bec: And it’s quick.
Sharney: And it’s free.
Bec: Yeah. And it’s quick and it’s free. And just everyone listening, we are not being paid by Slack, we just really like it.
Sharney: True. We should get Slack out, Bec.
Bec: We should, we should. Anyone from Slack who’s listening, you know, sponsor our pizza night.
Sharney: All right. Slack, big tick, next.
Bec: Yes. All right. Well look, I think we’ve probably covered everything about the whole working from home thing and I guess if anyone out there listening has any other tips or any questions like if there’s something we haven’t covered and they’re not really sure about because… or if they’ve run into any issues that we haven’t mentioned because I’m sure every business is different and the issues have different. I’d like to hear about it because, yeah, it’s uncharted territory. Everyone’s scrambling to sort of get everything together so.
Sharney: And we’re always trying to improve too. It’s an ever-evolving company and life and situation in general so any tips out there, please feel free to share.
Bec: Yeah. Yeah. Send them in, look at our podcast page on our website, and you’ll be able to contact us through that. And thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you guys next time.
Sharney: All right. Bec, I’ll catch you on Slack.
Bec: See you there.