Don't take good things for granted
Unlike the office, where everyone sits in identical, evenly spaced desks, home offices can be wildly different from each other. For me, working from home made me appreciate just how nice the equipment and furniture is in the LINE office. I guess I was so familiar with the office’s good points — the dual monitors, adjustable standing desks, Herman Miller chairs — that I had been taking them for granted. But, as someone who’s been living alone for five years in a studio apartment, my lonely little laptop and desk feel so small. Plus, now that I’m sitting in my apartment chair for so many hours, I’m really realizing how hard it is and how much it hurts my back!
Talking to my fellow LINERs, I’ve discovered I’m not the only one who feels this way. Lots of us miss LINE’s excellent office amenities. Fortunately, LINE has heard our complaints and decided to take action. Since we need to work at home, LINE is allowing employees to bring home all sorts of office equipment, such as monitors and desktops, so we can re-create the office in our homes. LINE even paid for the taxi and delivery expenses people used to bring that equipment home!
Sending help to people’s homes
As COVID-19 surged in Korea, LINE did more than just offer support for the office: We also made a point of helping people’s personal lives. When first big outbreak in Korea started in Daegu, a city in southeast Korea about three hours from Seoul, LINE sent protective masks to LINERs and their families who lived in the region. At the time, finding high-quality masks was really difficult in Korea, so the help made a big difference and was very much appreciated.
For LINERs with families, working at home meant working with their kids around, especially during those times that schools were shut down. While kids usually like having their parents around more, they often don’t understand why mom or dad won’t play with them. So, it can be hard to get work done when a little one is insisting on doing something together.
For this reason, LINE devised the "Home Office Board," a handy tool to help LINERs defend their workspace while working from home.
The Home Office Board can be hung on the door to wherever you work at home, letting the kids know that mommy or daddy is busy and cannot play just now. It’s a good way of ensuring you can get your work done. (Note: The Home Office Board is unfortunately quite ineffective with cats).
Later, LINE held an event asking people to share photos of their home offices, with the Remote Work Board on display. People had a fun time comparing the different ways their colleagues have set up their home work spaces.
Photos of the "Home Office Board" event
Don’t risk your health for cherry blossoms!
In addition to the face masks LINE sent to everyone’s homes, the Product Design Team actually sent flowers to their team members, to try to lift their spirits. Along with the flowers, the team sent a message urging them to be safe and stay home instead of going out, even though it was cherry blossom season at the time. Together, the flowers and the witty message really brightened everyone’s day. Take a look at their thoughtful gift.
Mommy’s little coder…
For kids who are supposed to be in school, the COVID-19 outbreak forced many of them to study from home instead. With space tight in a lot of people’s homes, that often had the effect of turning kids into something more like colleagues, as lectures and studying had to take place nearby their parents as their parents try to work. Plus, not everyone has enough separate devices for parents and kids all to get their work done.
Once again, LINE was ready to help, offering a variety of tablets and laptops people could rent for their kids. It was a small gesture, but LINE was happy to do what it could to help people work better in these tough times.
In addition to those abovementioned steps, LINE had plenty more efforts going on to deal with COVID-19. For those LINERs who had to come to the office, the company thoroughly disinfected the office on a regular basis: When the COVID-19 alert level was "Orange," the office was disinfected once a week, and when the alert level raised to "Red," disinfecting was increased to every day. In addition, acrylic panels were installed in common areas, like the lobby and company café, to minimize physical contact. Areas frequently touched by hands such as elevator buttons and doorknobs to meetings rooms were covered with anti-viral films and are disinfected at least three times a day. (We thank everyone who worked diligently to keep the office so safe and sanitary.)
LINE also stalled thermal imaging cameras to check the body temperature of all visitors. Hand sanitizer, contact-free thermometers, and disposable masks are provided in the common areas on each floor (and, in fact, disposable masks have long been available at LINE to protect employees from the fine dust pollution that occasionally arises). All told, COVID-19 has really made it clear to me just how much LINE values the safety of its employees.
Despite the pandemic, LINE continues to support in-house and external language classes for LINERs. In the past, people would meet in conference rooms at lunchtime, but now they study remotely using LINE Group Call. I am taking a Japanese class, and personally I actually prefer the remote classroom setup because I feel less self-conscious about my pronunciation. If I want to practice speaking on my own, I can just turn off the microphone and practice! (Of course, I always listen to my sensei!)
Because I work from home, I feel more pressure to respond to my messages and emails quickly, and that means more time sitting at my desk than before. I could feel myself growing ever more out of shape, so when LINE announced it was starting remote stretching classes, I jumped at the chance. Now I get to enjoy 30 minutes of online stretching and coaching from the comfort of my home.
Sending support to the local community
On March 6, a patient tested positive for COVID-19 at Bundang Jesaeng Hospital, which is close to LINE's office. As a result, medical staff closed down some wards and had to take other steps to prevent further infections, which forced the hospital cafeteria to temporarily close. When we heard about this, we knew we had to help, so LINE stepped up and started offering warm lunch boxes and rice balls for the hospital medical staff. What’s more, we used our usual food partners who typically supply LINE with food but who have suffered from decreased business now that so many LINERs are working from home. It was a great opportunity to help out two of our neighbors at the same time.
Despite the pandemic, LINE does not stop
COVID-19 continues to challenge all of us, so the company-wide remote work system will stay in place for the time being. In this time of so many changes and difficulties, LINE will continue to support its employees in every way we can, doing our best to make work and life a bit better.
It may be frustrating and difficult, but for me, my family, colleagues, and for the many people suffering from COVID-19, let's work a little harder and overcome this difficult time safely together. Hang in there!
※ Please note that the details described in this article may not apply to all offices.