What does your new normal look like?
So here we are, the majority of office workers now working from home or furloughed. What a strange, steep learning curve that this has been on us all at all levels. Managers having to lead a remote team that is going through the biggest change they’ve probably seen in a long time. Not only making sure that everyone is busy and up and running, but that they are mentally and physically well.
Managers everywhere are adapting to not seeing their team daily and scheduling regular calls and video conferences. Offering help, support and understanding when, understandably, their workforce is very shaky, scared, possibly distracted, worried or depressed. It’s a tough time for everyone and we must all remain human and kind and understand that no one would choose to undertake their work life, at home, with a 2-year-old!
So, what will be the lasting change for us after this sorry tale is all history? The learning curve we’ve experienced has brought to light many wonderful things about home working (toddler tantrums and constant eating aside), parents have been able to spend quality time with their children and eat breakfast together as a family. Using time previously spent commuting doing exercise or having family time.
While this has been an extraordinary time of adjustment for the whole country in both our work and home lives, we have the opportunity to keep the benefits of lockdown when we eventually go back to ‘business as usual’.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from the lockdown:
Working from home is not a skive
If we’re honest, when one of your team asks to WFH for a day a week, we would not expect their output to be nearly what it is when they are at the office. However, maybe now we have been proved wrong. Yes, working from home gives us a better work-life balance but this doesn’t meant productivity is any lower. Lets rid WFH of its reputation and open the option up to our workforce when we’re ‘back to normal’.
Flexible working works!
Flexible hours are still working hours. Again, flexi-working has a bit of a reputation, those on it are often thought of as lucky by those its not an option for. The parents working at home with children around, who now find themselves to be carer-teacher-feeder-entertainer on top of their 9-5, have surely proved that it doesn’t really matter WHEN you do the work, so long as its done. Conscientious workers will want to ensure they are being productive and achieving output.
Note of caution here: Managers should always keep an eye on those that are now wearing many hats, while the work needs to be done, the mental well-being of your team is more important. Look at what can be delegated, where the support is needed. Be understanding and sympathetic to their needs.
We CAN communicate effectively through video conferencing
We all know video conferencing has been around for yonks, but recently it has really come into its own. Hands up who wishes they’d bought Zoom shares 5 weeks ago… yep, me too.
The demand for video conferencing was unprecedented and many platforms had to adjust their offer to suit. In business, the continuation of client and team relationships has become reliant on this previously under used tool. Now that its usefulness and reliability has been proven, will it really be necessary to travel for 4 hours to a 1-hour meeting? Let’s hope not. Productivity will be further increased as there is now no need to wait for all participants to be in the same room, building or even country, hey presto, see you on the screen!
Companies have the potential to save money, resource, and crucially, time by adopting video conferencing as a preferred way of meeting.
Note: this is not to say all interaction should be done by camera, human interaction is important and needed by us social beasts. Use the tools available to you wisely and save the face-to-face for relationship building, networking and socialising.
Value each other
Being forced to separate from the people I spend most of my waking hours with has certainly given me a better perspective on the interactions I took for granted. Some of us are solitary beasts, some of us are ‘people people’.
I am a people person and I am missing my colleagues, learners, general hubbub of office life. For 22 years I’ve attended a workplace full of people who, in the majority, I like and look forward to seeing. Now we’re torn apart, no water cooler moments, no-one to run a query by, silent phones, and I miss them. Then there’s the family, my nephews are growing at a rate of knots, my parents are ageing, I’ve not hugged my friends for far too long. So, I’ll certainly be making more effort to spend time with, hug, laugh, cry, share, eat with my loved ones when this is all ‘back to normal’.
The Environment Benefits
From paperless offices to the Himalayas, we’re seeing things we previously thought impossible. It only took the world to grind to a halt for the Himalayas to be visible from India, the Venetian canals to run clear with dolphins swimming, deer and monkeys entering Japanese and Thai cities and goats venturing into Llandudno.
Could the Holy Grail, the paperless office, also become a reality. We’ve stopped printing and we’re coping. When working in the office its so easy to hit print which we’re now seeing is unnecessary. And those if you that print your emails, you can stop. Let’s make the change and go paperless.
You’ve adjusted, you’re managing, you’re doing your best. We must not forget this. In a year we’ll look back and say ‘did that ACTUALLY happen!?’