As some of the states start to begin relaxing some of the COVID-19 restrictions this week, we are all in varied stages of "what next?" By this stage of the lockdown/'iso' world we’re now in, I’m fairly sure we’ve all adopted the video conferencing/communication platform of our or our employers’ choice.
Even the kids have access to various class-based collaboration platforms now…
So, I see very little value in me sitting here comparing A to B to C and which has the best connectivity or security features.
Instead, I’m going to focus on something much more valuable to everyone, which I don’t think we’ve collectively paid as much attention to as we should have.
5 things to keep in mind to hopefully make your working from experience a little bit easier.
Here are five things I’ve picked up over the past few weeks that I feel, if we all kept in mind, would relieve some stress, anxiety and pressure from us all.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
For those of us with kids at home, especially primary-school-aged kids (based on my own experience only…), some of us are finding certain times of the day more challenging than others.
Do your best (within reason) to keep in mind that 8:30-9:30 am on ‘school’ days are really tricky.
Not only are we trying to get ourselves ready, but we’ve got to get the kids up and fed and ready to log in to whatever tool the school has assigned.
My son has to do a video check-in with his class at 9 am. It usually goes for about 20 – 30 minutes, which then means at 9:30 I need to spend 10 minutes getting him on task before I or my partner can start our day properly.
Try to keep this in mind and do your best to not schedule 9 am meetings. If you absolutely MUST, just be accepting that some people may be a bit late to log in, or, they may be distracted.
CHECK-IN IS ALWAYS OPEN.
Things are not always as they seem. Not everyone is coping as well as others may be, and just because someone appears to be doing great, doesn’t make it true.
You’ve got to check-in on people. This isn’t about checking UP. It’s checking IN.
It’s not just management’s responsibility to make sure everyone is okay, either. Check in on your colleagues as often as is sensible. Even if it ends up being a 10 minute mindless conversation around the lack of football, it’s time well spent.
This is all about trying to emulate ‘normal’ life as much as we can. Don’t be uncomfortable to just call for the sake of saying hi.
Don’t be afraid to point out to colleagues or your manager that you aren’t okay.
This directly ties into my previous point. No-one in their right mind would make you feel inferior for this. There are a lot of people not coping and if you’re one of them, you should feel safe about being honest about this.
To re-use an already over-used phrase at the moment, we’re all in this together. Let’s support each other through this time of transition and help each other not only with workload, but mentally and emotionally as well.
DON’T CENSOR YOUR HOME-LIFE.
Obviously within reason… Let’s keep it PG, people.
Don’t feel the need to censor your personal world for the sake of ‘etiquette’.
Let’s just be real here for a second and accept that what is traditionally considered good etiquette at work, or online meetings is now a little bit out the window. Sorry to those who want to believe otherwise, but it just is. We’re working from home. Not the office. That means the line between home and work is now very blurred. But, don’t feel like you need to always blur your video background to go with it, or keep your camera off.
There’s lots of us with dogs, cats, kids, partners sitting next to us, and washing that needs to be folded.
I’m not suggesting you should give up your privacy. Far from it.
What I’m suggesting is that a dog or child running around in the background whilst you’re on a call is a normal part of home life, which is now becoming a normal part of work life.
Embrace it. My son loves talking to some of my colleagues. I find it helps him understand what I’m doing and who I’m working with, and that makes a lot of things easier.
DON’T LOSE THE FUN!
Try your best to keep the fun and culture you had before we were all sent home.
That might mean online lunchtime trivia. Maybe it’s a weekly Friday afternoon catch-up.
If it worked before, try and find a way to make it happen now.
This is a key time to maintain your company’s culture, and the more effort we all put in, the better the rewards will be, and when we move on to the new normal (whatever that next phase might be) we will all be closer, and hopefully a stronger, more flexible team.
Change is always hard.
Changing to a modern, flexible work-environment and culture is especially hard.
Having it thrust upon us like it has been is an incredible maze to try and navigate.
All we can do is the best we know how, but hopefully the above will spark an idea in you to try something different, or look at your team in a different light.
We've created a little infographic below for you to keep these tips front of mind whenever you're working from home. Feel free to share it!