I’m writing this on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Here in beautiful Berlin, most of my friends are enjoying a lazy start to the day, having returned from the club, bar or all-night pop-up kombucha stand just a few hours ago. Maybe some brunch, they’re thinking, followed by a stroll along the canal. Do they have everything they need for a barbecue? Or is this one of those curl-up-in-the-duvet-with-delivery-pizza kind of days?
Not for me, it’s not. I haven’t had one of those weekends in a while. I’ve been supporting Basecamp’s customers from 9am to 6pm Central European Time, every Saturday and Sunday — give or take — for two and a half years now. While everyone around me slowly stirs to life, I’ve been at my desk for four hours and, after lunch, I’ll have another four to go. And you know what? I’m happy to be here.
Working on the weekend isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, much less working every weekend. When I was being hired, everyone I spoke to would double-check, “are you really sure you’re fine with a Saturday-Wednesday schedule?” Each time, I would reassure them: it won’t make much difference to me. I came to Basecamp from a world of freelancing that has little respect for working hours, and I expected to find a better quality of life sticking to set shifts, no matter when they fell (I was right).
Now I’m the one doing the double-checking. My team’s undergone a bit of a reshuffle, and I’m moving across to cover weekdays. We’ve already found an awesome replacement for my shifts, and in doing so, we asked again and again: are you willing to work weekends indefinitely, and do you have any idea what that really means? I only gave my thumbs-up to candidates who could convince me that they understood how hard working those shifts might be — and that they could still see the upside.
What upside, exactly? Anyone who’s had to clock in outside of regular office hours knows it can be a bummer, and everyone else can easily imagine the drawbacks. But until you’ve done those shifts for an extended amount of time, you may not realise that many of the all-too-apparent negatives are actually super-secret positives. Here’s how to turn your Sunday smiles upside down, and make the most of your weird work schedule:
Reap unexpected rewards
Basecamp isn’t just a business tool — it can help anyone organise whatever they need to get done. The weekend is when the professionals put down their tools, and everyone else tries to get their personal projects off the ground. Every now and then, I speak to someone who doesn’t really understand computers, for whom the cloud is a mystery, and who has set aside their Sunday to get their heads around “this Basecamp thing”. People like this can be a challenge to work with, but getting them up and running is especially rewarding.
Turn isolation into independence
Curiosity is a requirement at Basecamp — we expect everyone to work out the solution to whatever problem they face (and, of course, to ask for help when they’re stuck). However, when everyone else is online, it’s easy to get lazy, and rely on more experienced support staff, and the people who built Basecamp, for answers. On the weekend, I don’t have this luxury. Outside of emergencies, any answers that our customers need are going to come from me. I’ve learned more, and helped more people, by hunting down my own answers than I have by tapping others on the shoulder.
Bond with your fellow weekend warriors
Basecamp literally wrote the book on remote working, and one of its important lessons is “Thou shalt overlap”. When you’re about to spend the next six hours on your lonesome, you learn to make the most of the 60 short minutes you have with your fellow weekend workers. When I jump online to say hi to Sylvia, who’s been running things from Hong Kong, the Campfire chat room soon fills up with dad jokes (mine), dog photos (also mine), squeals of delight (hers) and music recommendations of varying tastefulness (both!). Of course, we’ll still overlap a few times a week, but when we do, we won’t be anywhere near as desperate for human contact. Boo, this one’s for you.
Maximise your quiet time
As soon as Sylvia logs off, things really quiet down. On a typical Saturday or Sunday, I respond to half as many support emails as I do on a weekday, and far fewer tweets and phone calls. This gives me time to do less urgent, but no less important, things like pitching new features, updating our internal documentation, organising my replacement’s training — and writing blog posts like this one.
Make the most of your✌🏽weekends✌🏽
My most cherished quiet time comes after I clock out on Wednesday evening. Because Basecamp believes that Work Can Wait, I’m left to enjoy this downtime free from distractions, except in the case of emergencies like a bowl of noodles Sylvia really needs me to see. When everyone else is at work, I can choose from my pick of machines at the gym, set a leisurely pace at my local brunch spot, get a whole row to myself at the cinema, or do the weekly shop while the aisles are empty. Best of all, as the people around me are gearing up for the weekend, I’m getting ready to return to work. Which is when I tell myself…
Remember: you have the best excuse ever
“I’m so sorry I can’t come to your vernissage-slash-electro-swing-party in that disused sewer pipe — I have to work in the morning. Maybe next time!”
Of course, I’m happy to be getting my “real” weekends back. But I’m glad I got to experience what it’s like to support different kinds of customers, at different times, with different needs.
As for my weekend warriors, hold strong! Make the most of the quiet moments, in and out of work. Take the extra time to hold your customers’ hands and lead them across their own personal obstacles. And support each other — be that rare ray of sunshine in your colleague’s working weekend. Wherever the weekday work takes me, I’ll be here for you!*
*Except on Saturday mornings, when I’ll be having a nice lie-in.
Basecamp 3 can help you organise whatever you’re working on, whenever you choose to work on it. Check it out now at basecamp.com.