Welcome to the remote working world. Welcome to my world. As a self-employed consultant I have spent the last five years spending the majority of my time working from home. The current situation is therefore business as usual for me. I manage my time as need be, based on client calls and deliverables, as well as my own preferences. I have been using Zoom for years and have run many virtual workshops through it, or other tools. My cat Ninja has also joined many of my calls, and she has even had a project named after her as a result of her “participation” during a call.
It seems however that not everyone is coping as well with remote working. I have seen some of my existing clients getting overwhelmed with back to back Skype calls. A friend at a big pharma also commented how he is getting tons of ad hoc last minute meetings appearing in his calendar. Part of this is driven (in his opinion) by people just being incredibly badly organised and inefficient. Part of it may also be that people can no longer just pop by someone’s desk.
Caring for small children may indeed make working from home more challenging. For the rest it is just a matter of practice. Careful planning is a good first step. I favour doing a daily post-it list at the start of the day (after my morning YouTube yoga session). There are also tons of digital tools, like Teams or Monday, that can help. Getting into a routine is important for some (I personally favour a more fluid and agile approach). I also write to-dos and lists during the day, and then send things in a single email, rather than each time something pops up firing off a million single point emails. Critical IMHO though is lots of tea and short breaks.
I have also seen posts about people asking if it is a bad thing if children or pets suddenly appear on video calls. The fear is that people will appear unprofessional if it becomes apparent that they are actually human beings with family or pets. What total poppycock! My experience totally counters this. In fact I have found Ninja’s participation has sometimes helped build relationships remotely. I have had a number of calls with people I have never met and the minute a pet appears it breaks down a lot of the social distance that a virtual meeting can impose.
In fact one of the things I love about working from home is having my pets around me. If I am having a stressful day they always manage to make me smile and reduce my stress levels. Maybe a learning from all this remote working is that we should see more pets in offices?
I think another learning must be that we can – and should – do more home working and virtual meetings. Part of my current contract involved running a series of large workshops as part of the roll out for a new Multichannel Engagement process I’ve developed for my client. This has now had to be turned into a virtual roll out. Instead of now flying people in for these large workshops, run over a couple of days, we are now spreading the roll out over weeks. Instead of group workshops we are running large presentation calls, and then supporting brand teams to work in small virtual “pods” to complete each module. This is supported by an online community and online resources.
What strikes me about this approach is how sustainable and economical it is. We can now reach the entire organisation (anyone can join the calls and access the online resources). We no longer have to pay for travel, accommodation and a venue. Teams can be more flexible in fitting the work in around other activities, rather than taking a couple of full days out of busy schedules. People can work from anywhere to complete the tasks. Our carbon footprint is dramatically reduced as well. It is a win win and I am sure this process will now be implemented for other activities. It will also become the new norm for annual MCE planning – I do not envisage the company reverting to face to face workshops for this next year.
If this sounds like something your team or company might also benefit from get in touch. I continue to work as normal through this situation, with the loyal support of Ninja of course.