Work From Home for Early-Stage Startups: the Good, the Bad & the Beautiful

work from home

As I sit down with my morning coffee in the corner of my bedroom, patting my potted plants while going over the notes for a meeting; I can’t help but wonder how our work has changed in this pandemic.

During the past 1.5 years, it has been extremely interesting to watch people around me adjust to the new norms of remote work. With the world reopening, the debate ‘Whether Remote Work is Here to Stay’ has restarted again. How has it been for early-stage startups? Well, let me share my journey. 

Attentive
Team Attentive

Honestly, when the pandemic first hit, we were not ready. Not ready at all. We were extremely used to working closely together – communicating face to face and working late nights in the office. The pandemic arrived and suddenly we were confined to our homes – all of us at different places, in different cities. We started getting used to it. The home-office barrier disappeared, and so with it, the work-life boundary became thinner. The transition was neither easy nor comfortable, but we didn’t stop. We all were in the same boat, we had to sail together. 

Work From Home at Attentive

All in all, our lives have changed drastically – conference rooms have turned into virtual meetings, calls have become huddles, and conversations over coffee have turned into quick workspace hellos! These are the 5 major takeaways:

1. Introverts and Night Owls’ Paradise

Flexible work hours have led to night-owls coming to life. Exploiting the random bursts of productive energy in the freedom of their homes, many are found burning the midnight oil. Introverts have been in their natural habitat and enjoy working alone from their spare bedrooms. Many catch between-work-naps; lying down whenever they need, wherever they want. The artists are seen thriving professionally when granted freedom of space!

2. Impact on Mental Health and Need for Virtual Informal Catch-Ups

On the flip side, the times of social distancing have also led to social isolation for some. Longer working hours, burnouts have been common, resulting in frustration & mental health has gone for a toss. Constant virtual availability is needed, unlike earlier where you left work and picked it up the next morning.

The lengthy process of virtual meetings, jumping from person to person via virtual calls for even a minor doubt or clarification has been tiring. At the end of the day, some shared that they felt drained even when they had barely gotten any productive work done. One of the biggest challenges for companies has been to keep their employees’ spirits high. 

To keep the spirits up, Attentive started its own Chai pe Gupshup (Conversations over Tea) to bring the employees closer together. We started virtual catchups, weekly quizzes, flash prizes, and more to keep the spirits high.

Our Employee Experience team has played a critical role in building the virtual rapport between new team members. Often connected to your team, inter-team communication has been difficult. Monthly townhall and weekly huddles have proved effective to remedy this.

3. Onboarding is Still a Challenge

Our team size doubled from 80 to 160 during the pandemic but hiring and onboarding new talent has been far from easy. Hiring is quick but remote onboarding is hard for both the team and the individual.

Well, how do you make friends at work if you are not “at work?”. Getting acclimated to the culture of Attentive, not making new work colleagues, with offices restarting again, everyone simply can’t wait to meet their colleagues again!

4. Making Everyone Acclimatize to the New Normal


At the onset of the pandemic, many struggled with high procrastination levels and struggled to keep up with the work during the turmoil. With time, people found their way and grew comfortable, and eased into it. It became the new normal, right?

Modern problems require modern solutions.

Another great way was to have a ‘silence zone’. Where people work together on huddles and meetings with their audio mute the whole time. Or having a personal silence zone on the best productive morning or afternoon hours for only productive distraction-free work and no meetings. For startups, virtual collaboration tools like Slack, Workspace by Google proved to be a blessing. Conference meetings over Zoom Calls, Google Meet, Skype, Hangouts have kept us connected. For writers like me Google Docs, Evernote, Notion have come to our rescue!

5. Still Getting Things Done, But Remotely 

Being a part of an early-age startup team, I along with other team members constantly juggle multiple different tasks and responsibilities. With a dynamic team that is passionate about a common goal while having our own individual goals, everyone is on an upward curve of learning and growth. Wins are big, but failures are fast too. 

Getting things done is still the name of the game. We need to embrace the digital revolution.  ‘Delegate where you can and take charge where you must’ has been a common strategy. 


So, What’s Next?

Interestingly, we have seen that all employees value the option to work remotely. Some are finding geographical freedom and moving closer to their families. The excuses for doctor’s visits and car breaking down have been replaced by simply marking unavailable on the workspace, leaving time for personal commitments. 
If given the opportunity, most will gladly choose the option to Work from Home with occasional office visits or 3 days Office-2 days WFH schedule. According to them, a ‘better work-life balance awaits’.

Do you think with the world reopening, you’d be able to clock in with the same productivity, passion, and maintaining the work-life balance when your social life awaits amidst social distancing? How have you been managing work? Do let us know in the comments below.


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