It’s weeks like these, when the world is forced to show its most flexible side in the battle against the coronavirus, that we need each other. Not physically, but online. The world of work is undeniably affected by the measures that have been taken to overcome the health thread of COVID-19. Except for those in vital professions, such as the doctors and nurses we so desperately need, we are collectively urged to work from home. And we, the ones able to do our jobs from home, owe it to them, the ones carrying the weight of this crisis, to do our absolute best at keeping each other safe, the spirit high and the economy from crumbling.
The home office
For some, working from home does not deviate from their norm, for others, however, it is a major change in mindset and approach. Yet even though workers can’t be in the same room together, they can support, motivate, inspire and share ideas with each other. Through online channels, keeping in contact and making sure every team member is feeling comfortable in this temporary home-bound role is stimulated. But communicating from a distance often proves to be an entirely different working experience. How do you remain a team when each member works in isolation?
We believe the strengths of good people reach far beyond the physical; even when face-to-face communication is off limits, good people find ways to stay motivated and keep doing what they’re good at — just a little differently. This is not the effort of a dozen individuals trying to work as a team, it’s the effort of a team in which every member individually takes their responsibility and functions as a crucial node in the scattered network.
The first hours of your work-from-home trial are likely to be odd, uncomfortable even. The line between work and private life is blurred, demanding a great deal of your sense of responsibility. But it also asks a lot of your self protection; because this line is now blurred, you are at risk of never ‘switching off’ from work. When all team members work from home, it’s likely that each of you adheres to a different work schedule. Some might be up and running by 8 am while others prefer to start at 10 am and work into the evening. To make sure these diverging schedules don’t intervene with your workflow or private life, set some rules for communication and respect them.
Supporting colleagues in making the best of this situation requires respect for their time, and yours; don’t plan online calls at the edges of the day, instead, make sure they fall somewhere within the range of 10 am and 4 pm. This way, every team member has a chance to schedule their work in a way that fits their life, without any negative consequences for other members of the team that follow an entirely different order of things.
When you suspect one of your colleagues to be struggling with this novel strategy, offer help and advice. How do you make it work? Your insight and honesty about your own experiences may very well encourage others to find a way that works for them. The same applies to you, of course. When you feel like you lack focus or miss required information to do your work properly, ask your team members for help. Good communication always contributes to a strong remote team.
When you decide to make use of online tools or platforms to keep the communication within your team going, make sure your choices are in line with your company’s policies. To prevent company data from being stored in the wrong places, as well as making sure the tool is safe to use and well-encrypted, always consult the IT department and your direct manager before you start using a new online communication tool.
Flexibility and patience
Every business is affected by the current developments and the successive safety measures. Governments are in no way able to immediately cover the problems that occur due to a stagnating economy. Besides, their focus must be divided between the health of their citizens and the fiscal well-being of their countries: no easy task. Even though your efforts to contribute to these objectives might feel insignificant, you have a job at a company that needs you, consequently contributing to keeping the scale from tipping. As an active member of the labor market, your best bet is to keep yourself motivated and take on the extra responsibilities that come your way, at least for the time being.
“You can’t change the situation, so why not accept it and take responsibily for the things you can do?”
This requires flexibility. Your tasks and experience will probably change as meetings become video calls, as your desk becomes your dining table and as your two-screen workstation becomes your small-screen laptop. But it’s temporary, and by accepting these relatively minor adjustments, you allow your business to shift its focus elsewhere and find ways to try and keep the economy stable while the government is occupied with keeping its residents safe and healthy and supporting businesses at the brink of bankruptcy.
Given the suddenty of the crisis, there are few concrete estimates that give an indication of its duration. As an employee, you might therefore be working from home for a couple of weeks. Instead of dreading the weeks and counting the hours, you can help each other out to get through the days. Patience goes a long way in this case; you can’t change the situation, so why not accept it and take responsibility for the things you can do? You may even find that working from home is beneficial to your productivity and is something to keep into account for the future.
Carry the burden together
Whatever way you approach this situation, we’re in this together. There are thousands of people in vital professions that are currently running inhuman shifts. You may feel as if your efforts are wildly insignificant, yet one employee accepting the changes without complaint is one employee less to worry about, leaving room for new strategies to overcome this crisis, together.