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Working in different places and how to adjust

With so many people now working from home, how are you getting on? As a massive experiment, it’s blown up all the previous obstacles and concerns about home-working: the worries that people won’t work or things will fall apart.

If work can be done remotely, any glitches are just a matter of making adjustments: equipment, infrastructure, routines, self-discipline, communication and so on.

This is about a change of venue for your people. If you have problems with work and financing, you might find this Quick Guide advice about furloughs and the Government 80% pay scheme helpful: https://www.quickhr.biz/a-quick-guide-to-furloughs/.

If you’re working as usual but in different places now, one big risk is that you and your people all work in their own bubbles and your team becomes a number of little silos who aren’t communicating with each other, causing misunderstandings and delays. If you’re the boss, make sure you change and improve your communications, even if how you do it now is a big learning curve for you.

So take stock: what’s working and what’s gone wrong or isn’t ideal so far? Review, tweak things, then repeat. If there have been glitches – things slipping through cracks or failures in communication – then get ahead now, so you can fix or improve things for next week. We might be working at home for a while, after all.

A gazillion people (not exact numbers) have suddenly found video chatting software incredibly useful and much better than phone calls and email. For a start, you can have virtual meetings and actually see each other, which is incredibly beneficial for us as human beings and especially if people are starting to feel isolated.

If you’re using video for calls with your friends and relatives but not your colleagues or customers, then why? It doesn’t matter if you use Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or any other software – just start somewhere and see how it goes. Personally, I love Zoom.

Here’s a couple of suggestions:

  • Step up communication with people and especially face-to-face: people are feeling anxious and some might be finding things very tough. Talk to them. Ask how they’re getting on. Just like you would if you were sitting together in an office.
  • Ask for their ideas: each person’s finding out what working at home’s like. They might have great ideas to improve things that would be helpful for your whole team.
  • If they are working parents or carers who are finding it tricky to juggle work and home-schooling, you might find these options to change working patterns helpful: https://www.quickhr.biz/options-for-parents-and-carers/
  • Be patient: don’t jump the gun. All our usual routines have changed and it’ll take a while for this to feel normal.
  • Please remember to be sensitive. You’re talking to people in their own homes and you don’t know what it’s like living there. Not everybody has a secure and happy home environment, for a start. If that’s a concern, find a way to arrange to speak in confidence at a safe time for them and maybe by messaging instead, so they cannot be overheard.

On that final point: people are predicting increases in domestic violence. If you know anyone who doesn’t feel safe, encourage them to talk to people friends, relatives or anyone else, including charities like Rise in Brighton http://www.riseuk.org.uk/ or Safe in Sussex http://www.safeinsussex.co.uk/ or Refuge’s free 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247 http://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/.

Looking ahead, working with people in different venues might become the new normal. If people are showing they can work at home successfully, it’s hard to see why the bosses who were wary of allowing this at all (we’ve all met them) won’t be at least a little bit more open to this continuing, even on an occasional basis.

The same goes for meetings: we might not have to travel so much for a meeting miles away when we can suggest holding it by video conferencing. If it’s working now, why jump on a train to London or wherever in the future when you can use Zoom or Skype?



By Brian



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