Working remotely

Working Remotely – reframing reality

As more workplaces adopt remote working practices or will be required to by government restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, we will be challenged to sustain morale and maintain efficiency.

This will not be an easy time – working effectively from home strategies will be demanding. One of the most challenging aspects will be creating a sense of community to avoid the isolation.

A current study from the UK (across 700,000 workers) provide some insight into the difficulties ahead. The study (from Leesman) outlines some of the risks:

  • A reduction in sense of community,
  • Lack of social interaction,
  • Reduced knowledge transfer,
  • Harder to learn from others,
  • And loss of informal collaboration.

At Ripple Effect Group, we’re a team of remote workers (and have been since the early 2000s), we have experienced the difficult and inspiring moments. But this time, it will be different. This is something more that includes levels of anxiety, concern for others, and people unfamiliar with being physically dislocated from colleagues.

As a resident in Barcelona, Spain, we have entered a period of full lockdown, or confinement. We’re not allowed to leave our places of residence unless we’re going to the supermarket, pharmacy or medical services. Everyone is working from home, except for those in essential services. This is not just working remotely, this is now expecting people to work in environments that are typically set up for other uses. Not everyone will have a home office or study – or if they do, they may need to share it with others. And if you have children, schools are closed, adding another layer of distraction. Not to mention dogs who are restricted to short local walks!!

But there are some moments of inspiration. We are already experiencing the community spirit through a variety of social network initiatives – from the hashtag #yomequedoencasa (I’m staying at home) started with sport stars explaining the importance of staying at home, but now picked up by retail and everyone sharing what they’re doing at home – through to the 8pm balcony flash mob-style celebration of medical and health workers on the front line performed every night. (And it’s getting louder and more vibrant every night).

Australia is yet to experience these types of conditions, and I hope it won’t be necessary – however, we can all learn a lot about maintaining how we connect and support our work colleagues and clients while we attempt to continue business as usual.

But there’s also some fun times to explore our ways of communicating – this is where our ability to innovate comes to the fore. Already there’s some great tips of how to keep fit, how to keep children entertained, how to connect with relatives, establish routines, how to dress for “work” – and the list goes on.

Our contribution to supporting our clients and others who would like to participate, is a series of people-focused remote working strategies. But most importantly we are intending to create a global community that supports each other through these times – however long that is going to be.

To kickstart our initiatives we’re launching a series of coffee meetups via Zoom (see details below), and we’re going to distribute regular blog updates with tips, playbooks and advice from our global network of specialists. We’re also putting together a series of mini sessions for professional development that focus on facilitation (remotely), community management, designing activities to sustain engagement and morale, and building digital capabilities.

Join our Remote Working Meetup group here.

But most importantly – stay safe, stay home – and don’t touch your face….


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