Remote working – surviving the new normal.
The recent COVID-19 crisis has forced many of us to work from home and enjoy both the joys and difficulties that brings. To help us through this change we’ve seen a wide range of articles, blogs, hints and tips to make the whole experience as productive and efficient as possible. Whether you’re a team member, team leader or CEO, the transition to working from home has thrown up many issues and proposed solutions that we never thought existed – until now. To add my own take on this, here are my top 4 tips on surviving the current lockdown and the future “new normal” of work.
- Everyone is different.
We all tend to deal with working on our own differently. Some of us more introverted types will find it great to have some peace and quiet to get on with things whilst the more extroverted amongst us will find the whole thing much more stressful.
Not everyone will adapt to working in isolation at the same pace, or as well. Not everyone wants to have a virtual coffee break with their team, join a team quiz night or even turn their Zoom video on. One solution does not fit all. As a team leader, recognize your team are all different and use the techniques that they prefer to keep in touch. For some that might be daily video calls and for others it might be the occasional Whatsapp message asking if they’re still alive.
One of the key elements we get from our work is connection with other people. The day to day interactions from a quick hello in the corridor to a lengthy conversation about the weekend or the latest Game of Thrones episode are what create connections, networks and working relationships in the workplace. In a virtual environment we try to keep that up through video calls, Whatsapp messages, e-mails, etc but they constantly fall short as they are typically set up to talk about work. You don’t normally set up a call just to talk about your weekend, or if you do, you end up feeling guilty as you’re not “working”. The thing is, you are working. You’re building the same networks you would be building in the workplace, but you’re doing it through a different medium. Maintaining connectivity with your colleagues is important and the key here is variety. I’ve been invited (and set up) regular “Coffee Shop” video calls over the past few months and although they can seem fun at first, the novelty can quickly wear off. If you find yourself dreading next Mondays Coffee Shop call, then you should maybe be thinking of changing format. A Whatsapp group, a personal SMS or even an old-fashioned phone call might be more appreciated.
In the world of work context is king. We all need to stay informed about what’s important and what’s not. What we should be working on, who is moving to what position and what might be coming around the corner. We all have a role to play here and all need to provide input to the conversation. As a team leader you should be providing business context, updates to policy (such as changes to allow for home working), changing priorities and support resources. As a team member you need provide updates on what’s working well, any issues you have, problems associated with remote working, and how you’re coping with the change. Without that context its difficult to make things better and ensure you’re doing the right thing. As my coach once told me, its not about doing the thing right, its about doing the right thing.
- Health & Wellbeing
There’s no doubt that the events surrounding the COVID-19 situation are a troubling time for everyone. Worries about physical health, mental health, job security, finances, work patterns, and many others are part of the new day to day experience for us all. Its easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of changes and negative news we are subject to every day. So take time and space to think about your own wellbeing. Don’t waste time and effort on the things that are outwith your direct control, focus instead on the things you can control. Focus on the little things you can do each day to help see you through this difficult period. We all do that differently, for some it might be some daily exercise, for others it might be volunteering in the community, learning something new or simply taking some time out to meditate or read. Look after yourself and then you can help look after others.