The “new normal” is here. Strangers view each other warily in supermarkets over face masks, making sure to keep their distance. Family members try to avoid treading on each other’s toes as they adjust to being together 24 hours of the day. Virtual meeting rooms and remote workstations replace lively office chatter by the coffee machine. COVID-19 was upon us before we knew it, bringing with it isolation, worry about our loved ones, and unprecedented changes to our lifestyles and working environments. At the same time, we saw extraordinary selflessness, resilience, and solidarity shine forth; not just in the heroic self-sacrifice of doctors, nurses, and other essential workers, but in the abundance of small mundane acts of kindness from one another.

Here at MaxWell Biosystems, we have been making major efforts to help our customers continue their research, both on the experimental and the data analysis side, despite the challenging circumstances. Chips and systems are still being manufactured and shipped, R&D efforts to continuously improve our products are ongoing, and the set-up of the lab at our new Zurich headquarters has been completed, waiting impatiently to welcome the entire team back. Meanwhile, all of our colleagues who can carry out their work from home have done so, focusing their efforts on improving our data handling algorithms, adding new features to the MaxLab Live software, and creating new online content like the MaxWell Webinar and the virology issue of the MaxWell Monthly Must-Reads.

So how has the experience of home office been going for MaxWellers? Check out below their replies to a short questionnaire.

Has home office made a big impact on your working style? How do you ensure you make the best of the situation?

“The sudden change to home office due to the Corona pandemic was challenging at first, but I got used to the new situation and was able to work efficiently from home. Without the Corona situation I would be preparing and attending conferences, so my focus has shifted to supporting software development and documentation. Thanks to our online meetings and organizational tools, we can function well as a company, despite the exceptional situation. After the crisis we will have more efficient systems in place, which will help us tackle the new challenges we will face.” – Amanda, Application Scientist

“My working style has not really changed that much, I sit in front a computer and type away. Actually, I think I am a bit more productive having a new personal secretary (please see picture). Thanks to noise cancelling headphones that block out the Disney songs from the living room, I can effectively manage all my meetings with clients and work colleagues.” – Szilard, Application Scientist

“We, in the MaxWell marketing team wanted to make sure that even if we cannot meet our customers for the meantime, we keep providing them with interesting content by organizing webinars, for example. Organizing new online content in the current work from home situation has been an experience! I have two little boys (3.5 years and 9 months) who had to stay at home with us and they also request quite some attention! To deal with the situation, I became much more flexible with my working time and location (in the bathroom during bath time of my son, on the balcony when the little ones are too noisy). My husband, who is responsible for the launch of the new COVID19-related tests at Roche Diagnostics and I are sharing childcare, and when one has a meeting, the other one takes care of the kids. Of course, it happens on a regular basis that our kids “participate” in the meeting when they escape for some seconds the vigilance of the parent in charge. Nap times are a blessing (but far too short!). I think when it is all over, I will have improved productivity as I am heavily working on my multitasking capabilities: having a Zoom meeting while giving the bottle to my youngest and drawing for my oldest.” – Sophie, Marketing and Communications Manager

What strategies have you developed for effective home office work? Do you have any tips to share?

“It’s definitely been an adjustment to my working style… but I think I’ve found my home office groove now! Strategies include making detailed lists of what I want to accomplish to keep me goal-focused and a daily call to a member of the tech team just to stay connected! Also, the post-lunch 20-minute naps are almost as good as office foosball.”- Colin Fernandes, R&D Engineer

“I try to keep the same hours as before while working at the office. This helps to keep a structure to the day. As for tips – if there is enough space, I would recommend working in a different room than the one where you sleep or spend most of your free time in. Getting enough exercise during home office is also important – there are good home workout videos.” – Amanda, Application Scientist

“Always wake up at the same time, have a fixed working routine, dedicate only one part of the house as your home office: I wish I were doing any of these! Jokes aside, I think it is important to try and stick to a schedule, but also learning to accept that some days one could be less motivated and/or productive. In those situations, I try to reset my mind with sports, or just organizing some online activities with friends: usually the next day things are much better already! Reaching out to colleagues and chatting with them over a cup of coffee also really helps to keep the motivation high.” – Giulio, Application Engineer

“I do feel working from home helped to maintain the routines. I can even start the working day at least 1 hr earlier than before, which was roughly the time I used to spend commuting to the office. I think having a regular routine is helpful to maintain the work efficiency.” – Wei, Application Scientist

Share a funny home office story.

“Ever since our first online Social Max [editor’s note: a social hour for MaxWell each Friday afternoon], my daughter took a liking to Sander, and she asks almost every day if I will talk with the blond boy with the purple headphones again.” – Szilard, Application Scientist

“When my husband and I are discussing in the evening, my 4-year-old son sometimes picks his toy phone and asks us to be quiet because he has a very very important meeting and a lot of things to do.” – Sophie, Marketing and Communications Manager

“I moved a toy train with my foot on a railway while video conferencing.” – Michele, VP Scientific Affairs

“Only all those times that I realized I was still in my pyjamas 0.001 seconds before a very important call: “I think my webcam is not working properly, so sorry guys!”” – Giulio, Application Engineer

One of our Social Max sessions featuring a cooking class!