COVID-19 is literally transforming everything around – from celebrating birthdays to visiting museums, travelling virtually and having a cup of coffee with friends online. Has anyone (well except with Bill Gates) ever guessed something like this approaching, probably not!
But here we are with COVID-19 tremendously changing our workplace and there is nothing that we can do about it, except with acknowledging the seriousness of the situation and moving forward.
Hirebee.ai team has been working remotely for 3 weeks, my friends from different companies on the same mood, so I have been observing many companies we work with right from the start of #WFH movement and I want to share some of my thoughts on this.
- Compulsory remote working, is what I call our current situation. It differs a lot from what we used to have. A lot of tech companies claim to be fully comfortable with the current WFH mechanism, because they were ready, they have been practicing remote working for years, they were working with many remote teams all over the world, etc. But the current situation has psychological aspects as well. We cannot ignore this and we should not. Work from home situation we have now is not a choice, not a perk granted by cool tech companies, it is not voluntary, it is compulsory. Hence, to keep your teams together all of you need to work harder, collaborate more and not lose the big picture from your sight.
- Think of marathons and races, how they are different? Right, marathon is a long term thing, while the race is a shorter period in time, when you should put together all your energy for just one last effort and win it. To win a marathon, you need to be in good shape, you need to be trained and most importantly you need to have a winning strategy in place. The same applies to putting your team to work from home. Just like we plan our weekly, monthly or annual team activities to increase team productivity, motivation and spirit in “real” life, we need to have this in “virtual” life as well. We need to have a strategy on how to keep everything going, even if things continue getting really ugly outside. One of our tech companies is now organizing online yoga with a cool instructor, who conducts a daily 30 minute online yoga class for company employees.
- Well managed communication between employees will be vital to survive. Bothering about placing the right tech tools in place, is the 50% of success only, you need someone – an HR Manager, Employee Happiness Officer, Internal COMM’s or one of the management staff to take full responsibility of managing communications between your team. If you are familiar with project management, and happen to know PMBOK (www.pmi.org) standards, you will know that along with Schedule, Scope and Cost Management, there is a separate knowledge area called Communications. This is another example of showing the level of importance of good communication practices within your team.
- Consider using project management tools, like Trello and Asana for smaller teams (free versions available). Having proper PM practices is always a good idea. When you are a team of 8, all sitting in the same open space, can chat together any minute and discuss stuff with your team leader in person, you might give a second thought on migrating to Trello for instance. But if now your team members are working from home, constantly receiving different tasks with strict timelines, it will be a smart decision to get a PM tool, setting up of which will take a couple of minutes.
- Remember this is not the end and there is life after the ugly coronavirus. Be helpful to your teammates, if you are a people manager make sure to continue your one-to-one meetings, offer your support on tasks your colleagues cannot complete on time. Everything will get back to normal, even though at this point seems like we are far from that point ?
To sum up I want you to look at this situation positively as much as it is possible. Now you don’t spend time in traffic twice a day, you get to have lunch with your family, get more involved in their activities, be next to your kids when they need you (my 18 months old gives me a big smile each time I hug him after his afternoon nap).
The most important thing today, is to be safe and stay healthy, be motivated, continue to work, read and develop new skills. After all, it is up to us to decide how we want to exit coronavirus – with depression, several more pounds and bad memories, or physically fit, with an advanced online certificate from Coursera, and cool memories of playing board games with kids in the evenings.