Three things I’m actually enjoying about working at home
It is only early days for me in my full-time work from home regime, but there are some things I’m greatly enjoying. The first is not having to do early morning sport runs, breakfast in the car, followed by a school run. All of which, to be honest, set the tone for each working day: ‘running’. Our days usually also end with more school/sporting runs followed by a rushed dinner, work/homework, 30-minute flop in front of the telly and a rush of to an early bedtime so we can do it all again tomorrow. Oh, and we also work a full day in-between, and in all the spare time I have, I’m studying. (I’m sure many relate with their own version of this crazy, busy-ness). So, this government/self-imposed stay-at-home has forced a much slower start and overall pace to our days – which frankly, I am loving. I also find it delicious that I can stay up ‘late’ (late for me is 10.30 pm) and it doesn’t completely destroy my energy for the next day.
The second thing I am enjoying is some truly connected time with my husband and daughter. OK, yes, it is early days and let’s be real, not all of the time is happy, peaceful and loving, but yesterday, for example, I ate lunch sitting at the dining room table with my 15-year-old daughter, no devices in sight, and we laughed together, (or maybe she laughed at me, can’t remember), but it was nice! And my husband and I walk our dog together each morning, (socially distancing from others of course – that is, WE are socially distancing from others – our dog is not so good at that yet). I do like being able to hold my husband’s hand on a walk and be reminded why I married him!
The third thing I am enjoying is the creative ways many of us are maintaining a connection with each other. I came into this week with great trepidation, for example, about how I was going to run a full-day leadership development program for fourteen women, using Zoom. So how DID I do that: simple, not alone. I had tremendous support from my Xplore team-mates, (literally texting me talking my anxiety down), and our incredible producer, Sophie, online with me for the whole session. I came to really appreciate a word that I have kind of hated over the last two years: agile. It’s such a darn weasel word and many corps just use it in slack shorthand to mean efficient or flexible, but this week we have been really agile. Whether it be our building of online sessions; what we’ve actually done online ‘in the moment’, or all of the behind the scenes briefing, debriefing, revising, remodelling. We have made quick decisions – some great, some not so much – as we’ve gone along, to make the best possible experience we can for our clients. Our focus has been on keeping our groups feeling heard, supported and importantly, connected. For example, we made a call to cut sessions to half-day, rather than have people online all day, and do shorter sessions, more frequently. The feedback we have received is incredibly positive and people want more! One participant, who had been working from home for three weeks, told us that it was the best day she had had since her self-isolation. Although it was online and we would all have preferred to be in a room together, face to face, we made it work – technical glitches and all – and almost everyone commented on how surprised they were by the level of the connectedness to each other they actually felt.
In a zoom coaching session, a client told me about her team’s weekly online lunch together with cameras on, away from their desks and no work talk allowed. Another client told me about how they are using different mediums for different purposes in their team, for example, WhatsApp to send around cheery messages, but Microsoft Team or Zoom for work-related discussion. People are being creative and considered about how they connect.
To sum up this week for me, it’s been a true reinforcement of the need, power of and the tonic that is connection. At home, there’s the face-to-face with my husband, daughter and dog, but also daily online connection with my family – Dad, sister, nephew – and my friends. Tomorrow night, we are having a Corona-aoke party online with some of my closest friends who live interstate – I cannot wait! At ‘work’ (from home), my husband and I have put clear boundaries around which parts of the house are ‘for work’ and which parts are ‘family/leisure’. I am connecting in with clients and colleagues daily – face to face and via the usual email, phone and message. I am an extravert, so lack of face to face will be tough for me. Our team is also having an online Easter Hat Parade for an upcoming team meeting.
I know this is not everyone’s experience of this week. For those of us who do still have work and an income – even if it is reduced – it’s a time to really feel grateful for that. However, it is a scary and devastating time for many who are losing jobs or running businesses that may no longer be here when this all ends – and let’s face it, we really don’t know when that will be, because NO-ONE knows when that will be, (unless you’re Donald Trump – who says everything will be fine by Easter – with absolutely no scientific advice or evidence to back that).
For now, I am convinced that wherever we are at in this, and for however long this goes on, we will only get through this if we stay connected and focus on maintaining – and maybe even building – our family, social and work relationships.