Working remotely laptop

After the Easter session – where we played Easter Egg Bingo and had some fun on Good Friday morning – the group returned to focus on a range of issues that aimed to uncover some collective experiences about changed perspectives on remote working.

What was revealed and re-emphasised from many dimensions – was the recognition that what we were all experiencing is NOT remote working as the term was used before people were directed to work from home. The experience varied greatly and was impacted by elements like:

  • The level of restrictions being imposed by the lockdown (different countries, different cities),
  • How long people had been in lockdown,
  • The others sharing their home space (from children, to pets, to partners, to flat mates),
  • Parents as teachers while children are home from school,
  • Previous remote working experience,
  • Home working environment (such as bandwidth, shared spaces and devices),
  • Issues with mental health management (who should assist with stress and anxiety) and , and
  • Too many unnecessary video or teleconference meetings.

The underpinning element we kept returning to, was that remote working under lockdown restrictions required so much more flexibility than simply not working in the office. The typical responses from many articles and “how to guides” currently flooding everything we read online would say, set a routine, schedule activities, create lists, exercise, eat well, get sleep and on and on… But, that can all fall to pieces when you add the multi-dimensional effect of families and competing demands for your attention, quiet spaces for video calls, bandwidth, and juggling roles – worker, manager, parent, teacher, partner, friend, dog walker and so on.

The discussion reviewed the concept of designing a set of guidelines should lockdowns of some sort are required in the future. As an example, we looked at the Constellation Research 2020 Post-pandemic Playbook, but quickly focused on what we felt were the core issues: People (and not so much Process). Two attributes we identified as critical capabilities: flexibility and resilience.

Both flexibility and resilience can be challenging to teach or train. The general feeling within the group was these sort of capabilities came with experience. So are the current conditions we’re all experiencing the right conditions to build these capabilities? Or will this require interventions to de-brief and create shared meanings – these could lead to new workplace cultures, more empathy based ways of working?

The role of leadership was introduced as we discussed the skills required of leaders during these times. Leadership in times of crisis was a critical element of how effectively teams were able to work together – yet, as the group includes a number of leaders, their perspectives added insights into how they’re coping and navigating the challenges. No surprises that many people feel unprepared to manage the emotional stress and anxiety of their colleagues and teams – most people were not hired to be organisational psychologists – yet the overarching theme was the need to be more focused on being available to guide and support, overriding the need to be task focused. These are not times to be trying to enforce workplace processes and outputs.

There’s a feeling that we have a lot to learn about how we prepare to both return to work – whatever shape that’s going to take in the short term – and prepare for future disruptions to “business as usual”.

This week we’re going to reflect on what we’ve learnt so far from these new ways of working. What do we want to make sure we don’t keep doing, and what new practices do we want to introduce when start returning to offices.

Join us to contribute to the conversations and share you experiences – RSVP here!

Stay safe – stay home!


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