Mar 30, 20208 min read

Working from home at Klarna.

Profile Rachel

by Rachel Haines

With many cities around the world having been impacted by the Coronavirus, it’s likely we are experiencing one of the largest work-from-home experiments to date. Klarna is no exception in that matter with thousands of employees having set up shop in their own home to continue to serve our consumers and retailers in the best way possible.

But working from home can also pose certain challenges around productivity, communication or even solitude. As a global digital company built on agile ways of working, our teams are very used to working in remote settings. We have certain team practices in place to ensure that, even during times like these, employees can stay engaged, focused and productive. This includes daily team “stand ups” to start the day, daily “check outs” to follow up on morning discussions and weekly “retrospectives”, all allowing teams to stay up to date with the latest activities.

But many employees have also found their own techniques to make working from home as easy as possible. Here are some of their insights:

JohannesJohannes – Software Developer

“As a coder I don’t mind isolation, working in my comfy shorts isn’t Armageddon to me but Utopia. Pairing is nice but can be solved with tools. As a parent with sometimes bored kids (3,6) at home it’s been healthy to signal when I’m available and not. Just like at work, having my headphones on means that I’m busy, and when playtime has started, I put my bicycle helmet on.”

SibyllSibyll – Marketing

“Since our team is spread across two cities, we are already very used to working in a digital setup (google hangout, slack channel, whats app group, etc.) and also understand what it requires to keep up a good team spirit while not seeing each other every day. However, special times require special adjustments so we also changed our way of working, for example by having daily 30 min conference calls to check in (and check out) with the team, making sure everyone has a proper setup at home that works for them, encouraging daily activities, such as walks or physical exercises, and creating space for social interactions. We even held our monthly team day via video conference (in total 9 hours) which requires discipline but included several smaller (coffee) breaks in between. Fun fact: With working from home we are all finding ourselves joining meetings scheduled via video conference earlier than usual. :)”

FranziskaFranziska – Training team

“There is so much inspiration being shared on our internal chats so that no one has to reinvent the wheel. During a remote recent team session we created “breakout sessions” to work in groups, spent time visualising everything on presentation slides and also used Jam Board, an online white board, where we for example praise each other or come up with online team activities. We try to remember to “start small and learn fast”, meaning if something doesn’t work out as intended, it’s more than fine to challenge the status quo and try something else instead.”

JoeJoe – Engineer

“I’ve been working remotely for almost 9 years now so I have found a structure I’m comfortable with. I make sure to get ready for work every morning, just like I would go into the office. I try to work in a dedicated area, which doesn’t need to be an “office” room but is far from distractions like video games and TV, so as to make sure I’m in a mindset of working, not playing. Taking regular breaks and going for walks is important. When you are in the office it is easy to do this. When you work from home, it’s easy to forget. It’s good for your mental health AND your physical health (I’ve struggled with RSI and I can tell you, not stretching or just walking away from the computer every so often can cause flare ups). If I don’t have other people at home, I try to do a lunch “hangout” with other people that aren’t on my team (it’s ok to spend time with the team, but it is also good to have some variety of people you talk with). I also like to hear other people talking in order to focus, but it’s important to avoid podcasts for that. Instead I have a live coding stream as background noise because it is somewhat similar to hearing someone speak in the office.”

AlexandraAlexandra – Leadership training

“These days we’re facilitating our leadership training via video conference. The training continues to be very important to understand responsibilities, implement Team Practices and handle challenging situations. In the training we use different tools in order to get interaction in the group. For example by using polling tools, I can keep participants on their toes and also allow less talkative ones to interact. When we want separate groups to work on different exercises, we also use a tool that allows teams to break out into different virtual rooms. This comes in very handy.”

DariuszDariusz – Engineer

“Every Friday we have demo sessions. While we normally teleconference between Berlin and Stockholm, this time 40+ people conferenced from home and presented what we did over the last two weeks. With proper moderation, it worked well, it helped us feel connected and we managed to present everything! During our regular team “retrospectives”we’ve started looking into new ways we can work more efficiently and stay connected without sacrificing our health (and our sanity) such as catching up in the afternoons, organising gaming sessions, staying connected via hangouts during and after working hours. We also held a video conference meeting after hours on St. Patrick’s Day to socialize with the rest of the company.”

EmilEmil – Engineer

“I think, to work productively at home, the most important is to keep focus for periods of time by removing distractions like noise and notifications. Exposing yourself to excessive amounts of information will drain your energy swiftly. Going “full screen” rather than trying to multitask is also essential as well as blocking off your calendar for certain activities and planning your lunch break away from your computer. If you’re low on energy then communicate that with your team and take a break. We communicate a lot over Slack, having one (private) channel for each service we provide because channels quickly get cluttered if the scope is too large. We also have a team-banter-channel for social conversations which is important.”

Wondering how to make your work from home experience even better? Here are some tips from our team:

  1. Get up and treat the day like you’re going to be around colleagues. Shower and get dressed and find a quiet, dedicated space to work — don’t just roll over and grab the laptop
  2. Exercise regularly virtually with friends and family or by yourself so as to stay healthy and get out of work from time to time
  3. Try to keep work and private separate by having a specific place for your laptop and work.
  4. Keep the communication flow. Have a open chat group with your immediate team or colleagues and consider organising virtual gettogethers where everyone can talk about other things than work
  5. Turn on your video during video calls – People tend to misread text comments or your mood when they can’t see your face or hear your voice
  6. Have someone actively run the virtual meetings and give the floor to participants, so as to get the best engagement
  7. Ensure you have the required equipment to work productively from home
  8. If you’re a parent, consider taking 4-hour shifts in which one partner works and the other cares for the children and set up video play dates or calls with grandparents to keep them entertained while you’re working