By Dylan Sands
Managing Program Manager
Reactions to COVID-19 have been mixed. From the individual to the small business, to the community organization, to the corporation, people are making hard decisions that will have lasting impacts on the lives of those around them. As a result, new policies are quickly being put into practice to navigate the forced virtualization in the workplace.
With a principles-driven work ethic in mind, let’s explore some ideas that are already central to the way we work, with a new focus on telecommuting.
At the heart of any organization, remote work is impossible without trust. Let’s use that as our foundation:
Time management is the pillar that supports a successful day. It is also increasingly harder to do well in an environment laden with distractions. For some, the office was a reprieve from all things that command our attention at home.
Regardless, being at home (coffee shops are no longer an option for the foreseeable future, unfortunately) allows you the flexibility to take care of personal life items that may have otherwise been neglected.
This is, of course, a double-edged sword. Client commitments have not changed, or relaxed, and now you have other personal things that must be done.
Consider the following to enhance your time management abilities while working from home:
Maintain a Consistent Work Schedule
This may mean establishing a more flexible schedule that is a better balance for your personal life and responsibilities outside of work. Work with your manager and your team to find what will work best.
Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
Having a dedicated space can both train your brain and your new “coworkers” that your space is a place for focus and work. Both help limit distractions and interruptions.
Schedule Breaks (and keep them!)
It is natural and healthy to take breaks throughout the day. It can be harder to do that when outside of the office. Dedicate some time, block off your calendar, and make sure you use it.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
It is easy to roll out of bed right into your first meeting/task for the day. Capitalize on saving your commute with a solid morning routine, eat well, and exercise.
There are many more strategies, so discover what works best for you. It’s time to find your work-life balance anew.
With a mini-computer in our hands and its pervasive buzz demanding attention, our responsiveness is better than ever.
However, now that the precedent has been set, we have expectations around prompt communication and responding to questions. We have lost the ability to swivel in our chairs to ask or field a quick question, but we need to do our best to still enable rapid response.
A quick reply to a question or new task to let others know, “Hey, I got your question/request. Will work on it now/or have it completed by this time” goes a long way in demonstrating responsiveness.
Also, keep an eye on your notification settings for Slack and other applications. If you toggle them off for some focused work time, make sure you re-enable them.
Teams can also look at increasing their number of daily touchpoints, establishing dedicated channels for updates on everyone’s availability, fully utilizing current tools like Slack, and implementing new tools for their teams.
Some teams have set up Discord servers for quick voice chats/screen sharing and specific topic chat channels. All of these can go a long way in making our teams feel more cohesive and connected.
With the closing of professional and family services, schools, community organizations, and support groups, individuals and families must adjust to a new normal. For caregivers, that means balancing full-time work, those we care for, and home life simultaneously. As an organization, we know that it will affect our items above, Time Management and Responsiveness.
We cannot control all circumstances that affect us now or those that will affect us in the future, but we can affect how we respond to them. As an example, graciously offer a brief break on a conference call when an inevitable kid interruption occurs, instead of having the person feel like they stopped the conversation.
We should also aim to keep meetings firmly on task and as short as possible to make the most of available time.
Support is closely tied with Understanding. Different circumstances will require different responses. At projekt202, for instance, we aim to continue supporting the needs of our employees as we all find our new normal.
In addition, we remember those outside our company who have greater needs than our own. Monetary donations and food drops can be done with limited or no human contact, keeping everyone safe. Many community organizations need our help, so please share and support them.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we are a team. Zoom, Slack, and Discord are great resources for text, voice, and video messaging to help us stay connected.
Project teams are evolving and putting tools in place to assist with collaboration and maintaining the rapid-response culture we have grown accustomed to.
Video conferences are embraced in our remote environment and should be encouraged going forward. It helps us feel connected when we see each other’s faces, and it provides a bit more motivation and accountability to keep up with daily routine. Especially on client calls, video conferencing is more personal and passively incorporates support and understanding in our work.
Even though we don’t see each other in-person, staying connected has never been easier. I am looking forward to the innovations that will result from this shift in the way we work.
We have been empowered to find creative solutions and communicate openly regarding remote work. We will continue to strive toward meeting and exceeding expectations, while building upon the client trust we have all worked hard to cultivate.