For some of us working from home has become the new normal, but what have we learned along the way?
Here at Earthworm, this is our sixth week of working remotely and, I don’t know about you, but having found it strange at first, I’ve now settled into a somewhat-normal routine. In my ‘home’ time that means commuting to the spare room, daily exercise and, for my daughters at least, dance performances in the living room (trust me, no-one wants to see me pirouette). At work, we’ve also adopted new habits and processes. We were well set up for remote working before the lockdown but making it standard for everyone all at once was new.
As Senior Systems and Data Analyst, moving the company to a full-time long-distance team has been an important part of my job, and there are a few things that I’ve learned in the process:
Technology is a gift
I did know this already, but definitely have a renewed appreciation for it, for two reasons:
- The simple fact that it lets us keep doing our jobs. There’s a lot of not-so-simple work behind it and fixing things can be more complicated when you can’t just walk over to someone’s workstation, but maintaining effective systems is crucial. We were helped along by our set-up already being cloud-based, which let us get straight onto the question of ‘How do we carry on most effectively?’ rather than ‘How do we carry on at all?’.
- It allows you to keep regular communication going. This is vital from a business perspective but also from a ‘seeing another person’ perspective. Effective communication channels can make all the difference, for planning, keeping morale up and, most importantly, so our sport-loving colleagues can keep up the bike chat!
Routine is key
As someone who’s job revolves around process and systems, it won’t come as a surprise to you that I value structure and routine.
We’ve done our best to keep as much normality as possible, including our regular team meetings taking place as usual, not forgetting our virtual end-of-week beers.
So while some things in my work routine have stayed relatively normal (ignoring the location change), it’s been important to create the right environment when working from home. Some time in week two I landed on the perfect balance, trying to copy as many parts of my pre-lockdown day as possible – from breakfast through to my desk setup and exercise. One added bonus is the more time I have with my family now.
Another main change for me personally has been swapping out my bike rides to and from work for one longer cycle a day. While this switch has helped improve my fitness, it also gives me the headspace I need to look after my mental health. I’ve always appreciated this benefit of exercise and it’s so important in helping me transition from ‘office’ to ‘home’ each day.
And keeping up the exercise has been crucial. To quote Oxford United FC: “Stay active. The temptation is to do nothing, but Karl and the boys need you back raring to go when the season starts again.” As a big OUFC fan, I’ve been reading their articles throughout this period and have found it great to see their focus on keeping connected and looking after your mental wellbeing during this time. Which leads us into my next point…
You always need that human touch
Technology is brilliant and a lot of companies are relying on their systems more than ever, but it’s people that can make the real difference.
At Earthworm, the way we’ve eased into working from home has been down to the team’s flexible attitude just as much as our cloud-based systems. Also, the wider Earthworm community has always been extremely supportive, but it’s great to see this extend out on a bigger corporate scale too – you don’t have to look too hard to find examples of companies supporting one another where they can. Google, for example, have extended their GSuite options to include extra video conferencing functionality.
We’ve also had one colleague join the team during this period of lockdown. Onboarding her was relatively similar to normal, with a heavier reliance on screensharing. But where it was obviously important to get her set up on all of our systems, at the heart of her induction was connecting her to her new team and making her feel that all the support she might need is here for her – just a phone call or a screenshare away.
Senior Systems and Data Analyst