Keeping up our spirits after 12 months of home office5 minute read
Team Librio has been working remotely on and off since March 2020 and the separation from our beloved office in the heart of Zürich hasn’t been easy. The last time we closed for good was October and it was hard to say goodbye to people, knowing we wouldn’t see their legs in person for months, just their faces on a screen.
The lack of personal interaction face to face has of course been strange; no more shared lunch breaks and animated discussions in our conservatory, no more throwing paper airplanes at each other when we were in silly moods. Now we just had our own four walls to throw things at and that isn’t nearly as fun!
But Librio wouldn’t be Librio if we didn’t make the best out of a difficult situation.
So here are some ways we’ve kept our spirits up over the last 12 months of home office.
An international team
If you’ve ever checked out our ‘Meet the team’ page on our website, you’ll see that we are a diverse team made up of quite a few different nationalities.
Some of us are based in Switzerland but others are further flung, so to speak. The art genius that is Nick is based in Cologne, Social Media Frieda is in Berlin, Oli Owl travels regularly between Zürich and Madrid and then there’s Kerry creating masterpieces in Cambridge and Steffi supporting our English customers in Bristol.
Our diversity has helped us come up with a lot of the ideas in our books. For example some of the fun things to search for our Search-and-Find books are suggestions from team members who live and work in those countries my personal favourite being Elton John playing the piano at Stonehenge. Now that’s a gig I’d like to go to! We listed a few more of our favourites in this article about how we made the book last year.
With the switch from conversations happening in the office to everything being done online, we’ve noticed an unexpected increase in creativity - not necessarily purely work based.
There have been many recipes shared, quite a bit of spontaneous music making and even some showing off of homemade office furniture.
Online coffee break
One of the highlights of our day is our daily online coffee break. OK, I admit it’s nowhere near as exciting drinking a cup of Nescafe in your pyjamas compared to the delicious barista coffee (complete with latte art) we were used to enjoying together when the office was still open; but it’s still something we all look forward to and it’s a lovely thing to be able to put down our work tools and have a chinwag over non-work related stuff even though we’re not together. Incidentally, if you mention work stuff in the coffee break, the forfeit is that you have to do a handstand. Not that anyone has ever been forced to do so, but the risk of being the first remains.
Another favourite is our weekly Skribbl time every Friday afternoon. For those of you who may not know, Skribbl is a great drawing and guessing game. A bit like hangman, but with pictures. As you can imagine, competing against professional illustrators doesn’t always go as well as we might hope, but, even if some of us aren’t necessarily the Picassos we like to think we are, it never fails to put a smile on our faces and is a great lead into the weekend.
The unexpectedly fun Christmas Party
As a team with so many members in different countries we were especially looking forward to being able to get together and celebrate Christmas as a group. Due to Corona though, of course, this was impossible and so we had to put our heads together (virtually) and come up with a cunning alternative plan, to lessen the disappointment.
When we planned an online Christmas party, none of us expected it to be as big a hit or as much fun as it actually was. There were secret Santa gifts, silly costumes, great food, delicious wine, singing and Kerry showing off her skills by doing a handstand mid-way through. What else could one ask for?
During the first wave of the pandemic we came up with ways to show our customers that although times were different they were still as important as ever before.
In the meantime however, individual team members have come up with original ideas to show each other that we were in each other’s thoughts. A little surprise gift here and there. Some Jamón or Turrón from Spain, Christmas gifts with reading material for the holidays, a fun calendar for 2021 and other such things kept the smiles on our faces.
What the future holds
As with pretty much all companies, Librio has had to learn how to cope with home office being the new normal. After the jaggy internet connections and stilted conversations were smoothed out in the first phase, it almost feels like the distance between us has brought us closer together as a team. Those that were already external now feel more integrated and those who we saw each other every day in the office have got to know each other more intimately than the daily “hello / goodbye” of office life.
The fact that everyone is remote is a real leveller, there are no more meetings with 5 people in a room and one person in Berlin. Now, everyone is in the room and one of our big learnings is how to make sure we maintain this equality once things return to normal. Indeed, one of our goals for 2021 is “Make External feel like Home”.
Once things are finally back to normal, the rules are relaxed and travelling is once more permitted, we can’t wait to get all of us together in our Woodland Garden in the heart of Zurich and give each other a great big hug. Until then we are sending huge thanks to all of our wonderful customers for keeping us going during these difficult times and we will continue to support each other and you all from behind our screens. Stay well, stay safe.