It’s a fact: coronavirus is transforming our everyday workplaces.
Organizations are being forced to shut down most of their public operations all over the world, leaving offices empty and smart work (from home) crucial. This means that thousands if not millions of people are taking refuge at home as necessary precautions. If on average 3.7 million employees already work from home at least half the time, what is it like now with a pandemic on the loose?
The truth is that the number of cases is multiplying exponentially, countries like Italy and Spain are augmenting their numbers by the thousands, daily. This means coming together, globally, to help lower the risk of further spreading the virus by staying home, safe and sound with our families.
The coronavirus has kickstarted an anxious trial run of a workplace dynamic that hasn’t been done before— even for companies in the tech sector. What we will learn in the next few months will be coming from unchartered territory, so here is where it all begins.
Many concerns are on the table right now. We are all wondering how productivity will be impacted by smart work. Or what the best way is to keep up communication between team members when everyone is working remotely. Office banter and bad jokes? These are only a few of the many challenges that organizations are both questioning and anticipating for.
However, think about how the workplace landscape has changed already this past decade— way before coronavirus. Remote work might not be the ideal environment for all, but the mundane 9-5 cubicle work life is behind us; the transformation has already begun.
This period of working from home is nudging us to re-evaluate many things, and one of those things is how we work. It’s time to get creative and re-determine what our workdays should look like.
This is especially true for organizations in the tech sector; big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are increasingly asking employees from around the globe to work from home. Google, for example, asked all of its employees to work from home through April 10th. Although these companies are mostly digital, some important transitions will have to take place. This is equally an effort as it may be for non-tech establishments.
Despite this anxious trial run, it is truly possible to work effectively in quarantine. Let us provide you with a few solutions to help maintain your productivity from home.
1: Use Technology As Your Armrest
Softwares such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are the new portals to your colleagues. Don’t limit yourself to messages and emails, verbal communication is still fundamental. Conversational elements such as eye contact are very important to communication, especially when delegating tasks.
Zoom is a video communication and conferencing software. Their motto is, “one consistent enterprise experience.” Companies around the globe are implementing this tool into their business models. The CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, says that the coronavirus outbreak will “change the landscape” of work and communication. He’s right, and his services are the first in line to compliment this transitioning landscape. In fact, Zoom stock is up more than 42% since late January.
Zoom’s features include:
- Meetings: online meetings, training & technical support
- Video Webinars: Marketing events & town hall meetings
- Conference rooms: build collaboration-enabled conference rooms
- Phone system: the next generation enterprise phone system
- Business IM: cross-platform messaging & file sharing
These features will help your organization thrive from home by maintaining effortless communication in the digital realm. An emphasis on communication is essential, without it your business growth will suffer. These different software platforms are your friends and consider them the newest addition to your team!
2: Create An At-Home Office
This is the ultimate test of navigating a work-life balance.
Your couch is not your office; separate business from pleasure. Create a division line from work time and leisure time by designating a table in your space. Practice this whether that be making your office a living room table or an actual desk.
This is both physiological and practical in terms of productivity. Separating your spaces will help you compartmentalize and internalize your purpose of the day— professionally.
This is especially difficult to do now more than ever considering you are most likely sharing your space. Maybe your home is busy; your partner is home, family members, or children. Or perhaps you’re alone with no one to hold you accountable for staying on track and doing your work. Regardless of your situation at home, you are left trying to make your space multi-purpose out of your own will and self-discipline.
Don’t forget to respect your work hours! Similarly, don’t forget to be available to your team as much as if you were in-person with them.
3: Schedule Stand-Ups and Stand-Downs
This is an activity that you and your team should practice at the beginning and end of every workday.
Stand-ups and stand-downs should be quick, approximately 15 minutes long, depending on the size of your team. Management teams use this strategy to emphasize tasks and make sure that all expectations are aligned. It’s also helpful in order to keep track of who is doing what.
During these stand-ups and stand-downs, each team member highlights the 3 most important tasks of their day. As mentioned earlier, this is a good exercise for management teams but also for the team in general. These micro meetings help determine each other’s tasks in order to set the tone for the rest of the day.
4: Encourage Office Banter & Coffee Breaks
You will miss the bad jokes, the office banter over coffee, and even some of the boring corporate talk in the hallways.
Google conducted a research project with Bill Duane about “psychological safety” as an important quality for online communication. Duane, someone who now works remotely as a corporate consultant, argues elements like office banter are what drive the most creativity and productivity in an office environment.
What does this mean? Encourage non-work related conversations here and there. There are several ways to implement this, take a coffee break via Zoom with your colleague. Or perhaps create a #random channel on Slack where you and your colleagues can carry on with some banter. Here’s another suggestion: if your office normally gets drinks on Fridays, continue to do so but on a video call!
Don’t be mistaken, these efforts are not time wasted; they will help your overall morale and productivity in the long run.
5: Analyze & Re-Evaluate Meeting Times
The truth is that the average executive spends 23 hours a week in meetings. Most executives work for an average of 45 years of their life. This means that 22 of those years are actively spent in a conference room. What does that mean?
It means that we spend around half of our work-life in a meeting. Analyze and learn from this:
Remove any unnecessary meetings and instead come up with new projects and collaboration improvements. While communication is essential to remote work, take into account how difficult it may transition into this new dynamic. Meetings every hour may disrupt someone’s productivity flow and leave them with a lot of segmented focus time. Interruptions like these might make it difficult to jump back into tasks and maintain concentration for some.
All in all, we’re about to find out which meetings could’ve been emails after all!
6: Practice Togetherness
We cannot forget to practice compassion and to watch out for each other. These are times filled with a lot of uncertainty and uneasiness. If you feel willing and able, be the shoulder to cry on for fellow colleagues— metaphorically.
In general, daily calls with the whole team are also a good practice to integrate. An example of this would be implementing stand-up and stand-down meetings.
In addition to that, managing teams should try to implement 1:1 weekly meetings with each individual team member. These 1:1 meetings are 30 minute-long conversations once a week that is dedicated to speaking about feelings and not necessarily for touching upon work-related topics. These meetings are really good to simply check in on people and to extend a helping hand if need be.
Additionally, some companies are having e-fun together. Teams are starting to participate in group activities together such as mini trivia quizzes and online video games. Perhaps replace your coffee break one day to participate in a game with your colleagues. After all, games encourage teamwork!
From our team to yours…
This is a time of trial and error as well as growth for many organizations. The Creative Clicks team has been carefully monitoring instructions from the World Health Organization and quickly accommodating to all of the policies. Many of the measurements outlined previously are those already practiced by us here at Creative Clicks. As of now, we have temporarily closed all of our offices; the safety and well being of our team and clients have always been at the top of our priorities.
Our HR and managing departments are in constant communication with each other trying to facilitate our team’s remote work. Practices and activities, such as stand-ups and stand-downs via Zoom, are constantly being tested.
This outbreak is helping us re-evaluate many aspects of our work. We are reengineering how we work on a daily basis remotely. It’s time to get creative and re-determine what our workdays should look like. That is exactly what we are doing here at Creative Clicks. As long as we practice emphasis on communication and togetherness, developments and strategies to work most efficiently from home will follow soon after. We’re on a mission to practice resilience, which is about creating a whole new work culture.
At Creative Clicks, we always strive to lead by example!