Welcome to Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag’s home office. Photo provided by Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag
Delano is speaking with our readers about their telecommuting workspace and how they are making the virtual office environment work for them during the covid-19 clampdown.
Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag, partner and head of the German desk at Wildgen law firm, shared her home workspace with Delano earlier this week.
AG: Prior to the covid-19 restrictions, did you already telecommute and, if so, how often?
M-AT: Our key employees and lawyers at Wildgen, me included, already had remote access before covid-19, be it for home working, travelling purposes, childcare. At Wildgen, we think flexibility is key to attract talents and we used to promote home working as a way of improving the work-life balance. Obviously, we strongly encourage people to meet at work and work together, exchange experiences onsite and ensure social time in the office.
When did you start telecommuting as a covid-19 precaution?
While protecting our employees and clients is our primary concern, we enforced our existing [business continuity plan] across the firm already on Monday, March 16, 2020. In exceptional cases before that date, when our employees returned from previously affected covid-19 regions, we decided on a case-by-case basis to arrange a two-week home office as a quarantine. Thus, today we are now at D-11.
What was your telecommuting workspace previously? Or was it always your “home office”?
We at Wildgen, including myself for my German Desk team, have tried to avoid telecommuting workspaces as much as possible to get the chance to create a team spirit in the office. In our business, it is often still easier to communicate directly with colleagues and also to have direct physical access to our library, even in case of digitalisation.
However, being a mum of a 4-year-old young lady, I couldn’t avoid it so much until now. So my current telecommuting workspace is in fact my previous home office.
What do you like about your telecommuting workspace?
Let’s face it: sometimes we--I--wish we could just wake up and stay in our sweats and jeans. Our place of employment usually has a stricter dress code, forcing us to get ready and look presentable each morning before heading off to work. Some also need to commute. With the flexibility of working from home, however, we are directly operational, from all views.
Is there a “personal touch” to your home workspace?
My daughter has understood that this situation will be a longer lasting one, so she positioned some of her toys next to me. Even our cat feels that way and has re-functioned a pillar in order to set up her bed next to the toys. This, I would say, is now my personal touch of my home office.
What are your most widely used telecommuting tools or applications?
We use existing professional standards more often for business calls and videoconferences. For internal team communication, we are bound to our internal communication applications based on the need for confidentiality and data protection. Nevertheless, I am convinced it is more important than ever to stay connected to the team--to show appreciation and to strengthen the feeling of still belonging together despite the physical distance.
Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag shares her home workspace with a feline officemate. Photo provided by Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag
How do you make telecommuting work for you?
Although we are not in the office at the moment, I continue trying to maintain a certain routine and normality, at least as much as possible. Fixed hours and regular team consultations are a must.
My team knows the processes and I can rely on them at any time. Everyone knows, e.g., deadlines and these must be kept, even in times of covid-19.
In broad terms: only the place of work has changed and the dress has been switched to jeans. And perhaps sometimes child noises in the background.
Have you developed any new habits or routines?
No, not really. I am very well organised in general--some say the “German style”--I am trying to keep that also from my home office.
After the covid-19 restrictions are lifted, do you plan to keep telecommuting sometimes?
As already mentioned, we, at Wildgen, offered telecommuting already.
Going forward, when everything turns back to normality--whatever this normality may then look like--I assume we will continue in the same manner.
But I may wonder if all of us will appreciate office life after all that social distancing.