Some of us have challenges with working from home as it is nearly impossible to avoid parts of home life getting in the way of working a normal day. Children, pets, deliveries and more become unavoidable distractions. Even being in close proximity to the fridge to enjoy regular snacks and the lure of the TV in the background (I for one am guilty of this!) is difficult, which may mean we need to start earlier or work later to allow for these unavoidable interruptions and focus time on our work.
Our mindset has had to shift to adapt to a new normal, and some of us don’t particularly like change, especially when it is a forced change when there was nothing wrong with the style and process that was in place before.
For over 20 years I have travelled into Central London and I had a regular routine. My usual coffee and chat with the barista at the local train station. The talk by the water cooler, the spontaneous Eureka moments by my colleagues that we celebrate, the birthday cupcakes, the after-work drinks where we can bond and share stories which create a unity between colleagues. Overnight, it all pretty much STOPPED!
Like many people, the first few months I thought it would all blow over and we will be back in the swing of things again. Zoom and similar platforms took over as the only way to see family, friends and work colleagues. Zoom quizzes replaced going out, which was fun! However, time went on and we approached the 3rd month. I enjoyed more family time and the weather was extremely good, which was a nice welcome as I continued working from the kitchen table snacking on my Jaffa cakes in the hopes that we all return into the big city lights very soon. Then the 5th month came, and it hit me hard that we may not go back to how things were. Offices started to close, hiring decreased, redundancies kicked in and for me, it was a little doom and gloom. With over 20 years of building a career on meeting people, I was out of what I enjoyed for over 6 months. I missed the old ways!
My home has always been a place I can kick back and chill when Dad's home it’s fun time and now I find myself having to force my mindset to shift and realise it doubles up as my office. I realised that a new norm needs to be found, as this is here to stay and running businesses within central city locations means we are having to adapt.
How can anyone plan for the “next” normal from a personal and business perspective?
Some tech companies are all set for the 'next' normal and what it means for their business, while others are still trying to figure it out. It could simply be knowing how to organise the workforce, whether a hybrid approach, all back in an office or working from home exclusively. The hours and days of work may have even changed. I have heard so many different solutions being discussed and implemented.
One thing I can be certain of is that having clear communication with your team is a must. Ask their opinion and listen to their concerns, even if ultimately the final decision will fall into the boss’s lap. You may be surprised and hear of new suggestions you did not think possible from different parts of your workforce, as the developers.
By sharing ideas and plans for the next phase of your business, even if it’s just short term plans, will reassure the team to have an agreed structure in place. A team who feels trusted and empowered in their roles creates a better environment and avoids uncertainty.
The lockdown has given people the platform to reassess their skills and take on new responsibilities. I believe having a routine and process is fundamentally key to creating a winning formula. My advice is to assess the skills you currently have available to you and see how you can utilise these further.
All the best,
Managing Director, Marcus Donald