As many of us are learning, working full-time from home is possible and can be a positive experience. Along with many companies Bedrock took the decision to close its offices the Friday before Boris announced the new ‘lockdown’ rules on 23 March. We wanted to make sure the whole team was safe at home with their families once it became clear a lockdown was going to be imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
One hundred days later social distancing is now part of our everyday vocabulary and working from home has become the new normal. The coronavirus outbreak is the most dramatic disruption to office working culture in my lifetime. We are being forced to embrace remote working and the digital technology that supports it. Many companies have been forced to test their ability to work from home with little or no chance for a ‘dummy run’. Thankfully for Bedrock our IT systems have stood up to the challenge.
During my working life there has always been a fear of the disruption that working from home might cause, effectively slowing its adoption in the workplace as a matter of course. Some businesses have been resistant to even a single team member working from home for the day and now we are now coming to terms with having the entire team working from home indefinitely.
We have lost the immediacy of face-to-face communications. Conversations that should take seconds have been stretched out over minutes on email, but we are coping. My own productivity suffered at the start of this process – concentrating amid the ‘new’ distractions was tough. That was possibly due to the fact that I had just moved house so there were lots of jobs to do.
Having the work phone ringing in what was effectively my dining room was slightly odd at the start but we are finding ways to make working remotely as a team efficient. We are learning. There will always be hiccups and barriers to smooth remote working, and times when technology lets you down (internet speeds, difficulties downloading large files, remote server access issues and the joy of frozen video calls) but actually there are some positives. Maybe this situation will force innovation and improvement to the tech we use. We have been forced to try things that we haven’t tried before because we didn’t think they’d work for us, however they do.
Our team meetings now happen every day at 10am with no major issues, other than the embarrassment of delivery drivers always seeming to arrive during our calls. The initial ‘wear a hat’ instruction has now lapsed (most of us ran out of hats after week one, colleagues with children had the unfair advantage of dressing up boxes). We have seen the faces of our clients that are 100’s of miles away more often than before we went into lockdown – video conferencing is becoming normal. We like it. Our clients like it.
I asked the team what they had learnt so far and what were the positives to come out of this situation – this is what they said.
- ‘if you have young kids be flexible with your working hours’ – too true. I am encouraging flexibility, in a way that made me slightly nervous before this situation was forced upon us.
- ‘if possible, create a dedicated office space that you don’t use for anything else’ – It is good to maintain a separation between work and home.
- ‘use your previous commuting time to exercise as an office job can become even more sedentary when working from home’ – agreed. And we’re all much closer to the fridge at home!
- ‘don’t take the tech for granted’ – definitely not, home wifi is not always as good as the office network.
- ‘remember, not all clients use the internet at home or use emails as comfortably as we do’ – We’ve made sure we have good old-fashioned stationery and stamps to hand as posting a letter may be the quickest way to reach a client.
- ‘stay friendly with your IT team’ – couldn’t agree more. Our IT team are based in the office just above ours, so we are very lucky to have got to know them prior to lockdown. They have been great while we have been working at home.
Once the world returns to a form of normality, remote working will no longer be unusual. Hopefully, when the Coronavirus outbreak recedes and many of us return to work-from-office, bosses will no longer be able to say that working from home doesn’t work, that it’s too complex, or that employees will take advantage and do less work. Looking to the future here at Bedrock we are certainly keen to embrace new ways of working that will be to the benefit of our clients and our team members.
Do get in touch and we can arrange to meet up over a zoom call for a coffee and chat.