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Strike a balance

Written by Cheryl & Simon

How companies have to adapt?

Coronavirus, or this strain called Covid-19 has pretty much turned the world upside down, it’s put a massive strain on our health service, grounded the travel and tourism industry, canceled major sporting events, I can’t get to a punch line without it interrupting. It’s changing everything around how we live, work and play. Life has had to change for so many people around the world. At the same time, we are all having to adapt together!

In this new world order, we are all having to adapt to remote working and this has changed people’s perception of “working from home” and yes it is in air quotes! It’s always been a topic for discussion around how productive people really are when they work remotely. I have worked in many organisations that have tried to discourage working from home as I suspect that they also questioned productivity and commitment whilst working remotely. On the other hand, I have also worked with some forward-thinking companies that have encouraged working from home. So I have to ask myself self how will this change the future of remote working when really we don’t have a choice in the current environment? Is this the new normal? Will we ever have the much-coveted ‘work-life balance’?

Here at Polystream, we’ve always been mindful about how everyone lives, works and plays and one of the values of the company is trust, we trust and we encourage remote working, to strive towards a better work-life balance. I’ve always enjoyed being around people and working directly with my team and peers and the option to WFH is brilliant when you need it, as sometimes life throws a curveball at you, is a brilliant one. However, with this new curveball, or rather, the global pandemic, we’re all having to adapt. For some, working remotely and or being a manager of remote teams or being remote as a manager isn’t something that many would have done for a sustained period of time. For some, this will be completely new and certainly requires some extra thought around how we all Live, Work and Play.  For someone who likes to be around people and enjoys being in the office, it is quite hard to be remote 100% of the time. I love to bounce ideas around the team and although it’s not impossible working with the team that are all remote it can deflate that enthusiasm a little. We need to think differently and accept the challenges that lay ahead of us, embracing this new way of working.

We have been sharing ideas with our Polystream colleagues on how to make the most of working from home and wanted to share some of our ideas.

The trick to working remotely

  • Start the day right! One thing that shouldn’t change is getting ready for work. Get up when your alarm goes off and get ready to go to work, sitting in your Pj’s all day might be ok for the odd day here and there, we’ve all done it, but this is not a permanent thing. 
  • Set a commute to work, even if you have to walk around the block it helps you get in the mindset of going to work. We take pictures of our commutes to work and share them in a slack channel to encourage others.
  • Embrace the perks of working remotely, you can nip out for a coffee, or be a little more flexible with your time. I especially enjoy working from home to spend more time with these two my puppies Loki and Belle!
  • Set some Boundaries; where you work, when you work.
  • Take regular breaks. Try to exercise, if that is a walk outside with the dog or some home exercise regime it all counts.
  • Over-communicate, as you work remotely and can’t have conversations face to face like we used to ensure that you keep people updated on what you are doing. There is no such thing as too much communication.
  • Invest in reliable technology and SaaS tools to enable you to connect and carry on working as if you were back in the office, enterprise collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams and zoom are great for this.
  • Lean on your community, speak to others about how you are feeling, it’s ok to need help and need the support of your peers.
  • Figure out your working style, this will be different for everyone. Some people like to chat on video calls and others like to be left to their own devices, work out what works for you.
  • Know when to “log off” ensure you lose your machine and shut down for the day and have the disconnect between working and your personal life.

Keeping the team engaged

We have a daily company stand up to connect and utilizing the power of SaaS video calls we can all join like although it does look like a scene from the Brady Bunch! It’s important to keep as much normality as possible and keep the communication in the company open. I look forward to the meetings and catching up with everyone.

I love the fact we have a daily competition to see who can have the best background during the call. It is a bit of fun and banter that you would miss out on not being in one place in person, you need to keep it light-hearted. We have had someone actually dress in a tuxedo and his backdrop of a Casino was very convincing!

Setting up a chair for each day to keep the call on track has hugely helped, as a large call can so easily go off-topic and we have a safe word to call out if we find the conversation derailing.

Using Saas tools to enable day to day activities to remote teams

We all still have jobs to do and we would usually be huddled around a whiteboard to carry out our sprint retros, so now we rely on Miro boards to perform the sprint reviews. It’s great as everyone can contribute to the board from home.

The power of these tools makes this possible today as I could never have imagined this 10 years ago!

The use of technology as an enabler is key to the success of working remotely and collaboration. I am using my background with enterprise collaboration to help the teams to work closely and encourage them to still connect via video call or Slack channel and work as if they were still in the same room.

There is no reason to stop your business due to the outbreak, there are so many tools to enable the team to carry on regardless. We all just need to be cognisant of the current threat from the outbreak and how this will affect people. We have offered our support to our employees and their families and we are grateful for the full support of our CEO, Bruce Grove to be able to do this!

In uncertain times we need to be patient with each other and the processes you put in place, it’s new for everyone, so don’t expect to get it right first time

This article first appeared on LinkedIn

Strike a balance

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