Let Project Slippers Commence

One of my major clients has initiated their emergency plan due to Corona virus / COVID-19. Teams are being separated and people are being encouraged to work from home where possible, to minimise the impact of any outbreak.

It means a good portion of my working week for the foreseeable future will be spent in my home office. So, let Project Slippers commence! No more make-up, heels and business suit for me for a couple of weeks. Bring on the slippers!

Working from home isn't a new phenomenon, and indeed, I have personally been working from home and managing remote teams since the early 2000s (when being on the internet rendered your house phone unusable for calls!)

However, for some, working remotely and separately from colleagues, is new and unsettling.

Over the last few days, there has been a flurry of advice and top tips about how to "survive" enforced isolation; either as a result of showing signs of symptoms, or in the case of my client, as a best practice preventative measure.

But trust me, remote working should be embraced. No traffic to contend with, no queue for the coffee machine, and no heels, hair and make-up!

So, here are my top tips on how to embrace remote working...

1) Routine - get up at a fixed time, shower, get dressed (it doesn't have to be a business suit, a tracksuit is perfectly acceptable!). DO NOT sit at your laptop in your pyjamas; a shower and a different set of clothes will get you in the right mindset.

2) Space - not everyone has the luxury of an office, but a separate workspace is essential. It doesn't have to be a whole room, it can be the dining room table; just clear a space and set yourself up with an area to work in that does not involve balancing the laptop on your lap in front of the TV!

3) Talk - Unlike in the early 2000s, we are blessed with (mainly) fast broadband, and tools such as Teams, Skype and WhatsApp, that enable us to keep connected digitally. We are never too far away from an email, a text message, a WhatsApp or a Microsoft Teams meeting, but let's not forget the power of speech. Pick up the phone and call colleagues if you have a question. And let's not forget the power of a natter!

4) Clarity - Leaders and Managers MUST be clear on tasks, expectations, and objectives. Alongside this, employees MUST communicate clearly about their deliverables, and escalate PROMPTLY if they need support. Don't underestimate the loss of the over-the-desk catch-ups that aren't possible when working remotely.

5) Stop - People often think that those who work at home will spend the morning in their pyjamas watching daytime TV. Indeed, there are no doubt people who do this (maybe those without clear objectives - see point 4 above!), but many will find it difficult to stop. Without the interruption of people walking past your desk for a natter, or the wandering to the coffee machine mid morning, it's easy to find yourself welded to your laptop, tap-tapping your way through your to do list. This may be great for productivity, but it's no good for your health or wellbeing, so don't forget to stop and take a break. The beauty of working from home is you can combine said break with a household chore; put the washing on, hang the washing out. Yes, you are allowed to do things like that! After all, how much productive time do you think is wasted in the average office, queuing for a coffee, or chatting to colleagues in the corridor! It's all about the outcomes and getting your outputs delivered on time (back to point 4 above). As I always say to my remote teams, providing you're contactable during core working hours, and get your outputs delivered on time, I don't care how you spend your day. Do the washing, chop the vegetables for dinner, or unload the dishwasher; just answer your phone if I call, answer your emails promptly, and achieve your objectives. :-)

No-one know what the next few weeks will hold with respect to COVID-19, but one thing is certain; we have to make the best of it because we can't change it.

And to my current remote team....speak to you soon!