We would all agree we are living in uncertain times. The COVID-19 coronavirus is changing the world of work. The way we play. The way we live. On Tuesday, I hosted a radio show that was also unprecedented. It wasn’t about connected technology. It was about staying healthy during this time of uncertainty and as we all work remotely.
The greatest takeaway from the show was that everyone needs to first and foremost keep safe. Many Intel executives shared their wisdom about how they work remotely and are trying to use a lot more collaboration tools and over communicating to keep employees engaged. But perhaps even more importantly to be kind to others and show a different side of their lives and humanity. And sometimes that means being as creative as hosting social events such as virtual happy hours, cooking classes, sharing pictures, and whatever else might come to mind.
Many people are making the transition and trying to understand what working remotely means. So I thought the best thing to do is to take the time to define some things.
First and foremost, working from home and remote workers are two very different things.
Remote working is simply, doing this, all the time. It requires a different set of abilities, resources, and skills. It also requires a self-starter attitude with good time management skills. Recent numbers show that before COVID-19, roughly 62% of employees worked remotely, at least part of the time.
On the flipside, working from home is different. It is temporary. Some team members have a desk and a workspace provided by the company. There might be a number of different reasons you stay home; to get things done because you want less interruptions, or, because you are quarantined or a stay-in-play order as a result of COVID-19, which has been put in place for Illinois, New York, California, and other new orders in 14 states. It represents a change from your normal routine. It can be effective once in a while, but you still have the framework of the office.
So now that we have made that distinction, let’s get to some sage advice.
Beverly Rider, chief commercial officer, Hitachi Global Digital Holdings, says her team is working through its “temporary quarantines.” She says her team is working from home, which has presented everyone with new and interesting challenges. After several week’s her team has come up with top 10 pointers for working from home, even a red, yellow, and green sticker system to know about a meeting, and reward systems to encourage cooperation with children. If you want to hear her 10 pointers, listen to the radio show.
Kathleen Mitford, chief strategy officer at PTC, has done many things to work with her team to improve collaboration, but perhaps more importantly, she has improved collaboration, by giving her team a chance to connect by setting up a “Coffee with Kathleen” on Monday/Tuesday mornings and she has “Virtual Strategy Socials” on Thursday afternoons. She explained that she chooses a topic for each virtual event and one of here employees gets chosen as the speaker—talking about topics such as beating the boredom, their favorite hobbies, and sharing cocktail recipes. The main goal is to keep the connection with colleagues making the discussion light and fun, easing the tension and hopefully the distraction from the world around them if only for a brief moment.
Here are some other tips I collected during my week-long research:
- First, get dressed and act like you are going to work, make your cup of tea or coffee and breakfast before the day begins.
- Next, replicate the office environment as much as possible. This will help you feel more like work and less like it’s a break away.
- Limit distractions. No TV, no news, no Netflix on in the background.
- Do take breaks though, and limit those breaks to only 15 minutes.
- Set up twice-day conference calls with your teams to stay connected and informed.
- Try not to work on the weekends. Separate the work from home.
- Try to have a five-minute recharge from it all and sneak away for some quiet time from family; just for yourself.
- End the day at the same time every day. It can’t be all work.
Finally, I have thoughts from one more individual.
Perhaps more importantly this time is all about celebrating the small wins: find joy wherever possible!
To recap, to say these last few weeks have been stressful and surprising would be an understatement. As we have all heard, or read, the COVID-19 virus has forced us all to navigate through vast unchartered territories, both personally and professionally.
The good news, we are all rising to all the challenges on all fronts. Now as we continue our journeys. We all recognize more is yet to come, but even more kindness will also emerge as well. Continue to show your strength whenever possible. And please continue to share with me those many positive experiences you are witnessing as I will continue to share them with all of you in this column and on my radio show.
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