As I write this, it is the beginning of April 2020 and I have been working from home for 2 weeks. We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and to me it really feels like something out of an apocalyptic movie! I do have to remind myself that things could be much worse, the world has seen more horror but for most of us it is, and hopefully always will be, the biggest shake up of our lives and honestly, it’s scary. It has forced companies to close and along with that many people are now out of work simply because it just isn’t safe for us to go about our usual business.
Here at Elixel Ltd we are very lucky that we can continue our jobs from home and as long as other businesses out there need digital solutions then we will be here to help.
Working from home has been a HUGE learning curve, so let me just tell you a little bit about my experience…...so far!
Here are the struggles I have identified in my situation:
- Finding a suitable place to set up my Mac….which by the way I have never used so that’s been a fun start to the new setup. I had it set up in 2 different places before I settled on where I am, on the kitchen island above the dishwasher! I am using my kitchen chair which I now see is SUPER uncomfortable and typing at an unnatural height. It will be so novel to get back to a normal desk and normal office chair, I will never take that for granted again.
- Staying focused and connected to the rest of the team when we are all in our respective homes.
- I have 2 children at home with me, both under the age of 4 as I write this. Having them around contributes to my struggle to focus as they don’t understand why they can’t have Mummy’s full attention like usual so when they need something I have to be available to them. Being home and not being able to dedicate 100% of my time to them on my working days makes me feel like I am neglecting them. I dislike the feeling that I’m not engaging their small minds with something educational, but at their ages I can’t set them a Maths or English task and expect them to get on with it by themselves. My eldest is due to start school in September so right now she doesn’t have a strict curriculum to follow like school age children but I want to make sure she will be ready to start, like she would have been if she were still attending nursery.
In regards to the work side of things, Elixel has been great and we are trying to keep everything as ‘normal’ as possible but how do we truly keep ourselves ‘sane’ in this crazy time? We have a couple of things we do here at Elixel that are helping me that could also be a saving grace for you and your teams.
Every Monday we would hold a ‘Stand Up’ meeting to discuss what each of us achieved the previous week, what we have planned for the upcoming week and what is holding us back in our tasks/jobs. It helps us identify who could be around to help us with our upcoming work load and makes everyone aware of what stumbling blocks we are experiencing so these can be eased. During isolation we are still doing this at the same time, on the same day, just via ‘Meet’ (https://meet.google.com/). We can enter either just via voice call or visually, but it really is keeping us all connected and involved in each other's work loads. I find these meetings are a fantastic starting point to the week generally as I work part time and it keeps me up to speed with what’s happening in the business. I can manage the office in a more effective way so I love the fact we are able to keep these going.
We also utilise ‘Meet’ to have a coffee break in the morning and afternoon, just for a natter. It’s not compulsory to attend, just like any catch up over a cup of tea in the office isn’t compulsory, but having that chat and a few minutes of downtime can make a real difference to your mood and motivation. That interaction during the day may not only improve how you work and focus but how you get through the day in general. Human connections are so important, especially now.
Connectivity and Communication
Slack (slack.com) is a tool we use to communicate even when we’re in the office and it’s awesome! This works great now we are working remotely too. We have a number of different channels going so that information gets posted and discussed in the appropriate place, but since being at home we have set up new channels, one in particular called #fitness. Here we challenge each other to complete certain exercises a day. It originally started with each of us on the channel doing 100 sit ups and 100 press ups daily, but over time we have adapted our own goals to fit into our day. We update each other throughout the course of the day and encourage each other to keep on going, just like we would if we were altogether in the office environment.
As we continue to work remotely I’m sure we will find more tools to continue to feel connected and to help with the smooth running of our business but having these tools already in place has been fantastic.
If you are struggling to ‘keep calm and carry on’ then don’t worry, you’re not alone. I would guess most of us have made the common misconception that those who work remotely usually are lucky to be able to do so but now many of us are in the same position we all realise how lonely it can be, especially when our time outdoors is limited. Just remember that the rest of the team you usually see are likely going through the same set of frustrations and emotions you are, so please reach out to one another. Being on ‘lockdown’ is isolating for everyone, even if like me you are in a house full of people 24/7!
Once this glitch in the system we call ‘The World’ has been rectified by the fantastic developers (doctors and scientists!) we will all have a greater appreciation for going to work and being with our colleagues and friends. Keep safe and know that if your business is still pushing forward and needing support with a digital product, get in touch...we’re here to help.