How does a specialist team adapt to working from home in an exceptional situation?

The corona pandemic shattering the whole world forces everyone to face new situations. Even small everyday changes are hard to make in normal conditions as a person is capable of successfully making 1-3 changes at a time. We are now facing quite a challenge in a sudden and exceptional situation as we are required to change many things at once, and all of the changes cannot even be controlled by ourselves. However, we can significantly influence how we react on these changes.

In everyday life, the changes of the exceptional situation cause by the corona virus are impacting on many different levels. This writing concerns working from home with school aged children at home. The starting point is good as distance work is known from before, there are suitable tools available, and all communication connections are in order at home.

Changes from a team management point of view

For all business operations it is crucial to worry about cash flow. And to ensure it, it is important to primarily focus on finishing all unfinished projects before starting new ones. This could be a good way to operate even in the future since we need to intensify our work.

Instead of our weekly meeting, we have a short Teams meeting with the team every morning:

  • Everyone divides the project tasks into as small parts as possible in Teams
  • We go through the most important tasks of each day every morning
  • We discuss who needs whose help
  • It is essential to also discuss the priorities of different projects. An open conversation culture helps.
  • The next day, we shortly go through what we achieved on the previous day

Since we are not available to each other in the same way as in the office, we use the Teams chat during the day instead of emailing to comment on things. Using emojis makes the communication more unique.

The top 3 important things when working from home:

  • Remember to drink enough water. A glass of water on the table is a good reminder. Routines created in the office may be paused when the everyday office is now your own home.
  • The brain needs good quality nutrition, so remember to eat evenly throughout the day. Surely, when there are children around it is natural to stick to this as you take care of their food supply.
  • Have breaks and stretch your legs now and then. A few squats, shoulder rotations, and body bends forward are good for the blood circulation.

The top 3 traps when working from home:

  • Stick to the planned list of tasks even if your mind wanders to easier/quicker/nicer tasks.
  • Snacking may be tempting as all snack stashes and your own fridge are too easily available.
  • Even if the Teams chat is good, you can’t always react to the messages immediately if you are on a call with a customer, for instance. Note to self: remember to discuss the expectations of answering the chat with the team during the next morning meeting.

How does the distant workday of a specialist proceed with school aged children at home?

A normal workday from home can be done in piece as the children come home from school later in the afternoon. In this exceptional situation, the amount of interruptions at home is bigger as all family members are present. There are important messages from Wilma regarding school, the phone rings, both parents have their own video meetings going, one child needs help with logging into Google Meet, and another one doesn’t know what to do next.

  • We make an agreement with the children beforehand that the daily rhythm must be the same as during a normal school day. This also concerns recess. The children go to get some fresh air and discharge some energy. And I have to admit, it would probably have been good to join the children outside. Maybe I will have a ”recess” with the children tomorrow.
  • For me, stretching my legs between my work tasks, means checking on the children and their schoolwork.
  • Not many households have an optimally equipped workroom for every family member that guarantees uninterrupted concentration. Hence, each family member must ensure their own work piece. And when it comes to children, there is lots of training to do.

Hopefully the new routines have taken shape by 13.4.2020 and each and everyone has learnt something new about both themselves and the different operation models.

P.S. The wireless headset, mobile phone, and laptop are good to put on charge in the evening, so that they are ready for the next day.