I wrote an article on why remote work does not function for parents with young kids at home while schools and day-care are closed. I mentioned that some people (many of my friends, including myself) were close to a mental break down. Well, that mental brake-down was getting close, thank god lockdown is easing up and we can start slowly moving to the new normal.
Some people have been able to make the best of the lockdown and started activities that they did not have time before. Others have experienced it as extremely exhaustive time trying to juggle with kids and the uncertainty regarding their financial security. The outbreak accelerated digitalisation of businesses out of necessity. People had expectations that now, when we have time at our hands, we will become super creative and productive. However, for innovation to happen, people need to be in a low-stress state. The current situation, where you have a terrible conscious of not being able to do your job 100% and not having enough time for your kid(s), is exhausting and not stress-free.
Gathering the feedback and reflecting on my own experience, remote work functions when you have the following:
· Clear objectives and KPIs for the collaboration and timeline for the KPIs.
· Excellent communication between the team members. Rules of communication, and a way to get hold of each other when needed on a short notice using phone calls, instant messaging (WhatsApp, telegram) or team communication tools (slack).
· Right tools for collaboration. The minimum is a stable internet connection, a proper microphone and video conferencing. Video calls work for the regular weekly and monthly updates since it allows people to see each other and communicate efficiently. Ability to use collaborative tools such as miro can make brainstorming, planning and decision making fun and efficient.
· We are all human. Don’t forget the importance of taking the time in the beginning or end of calls to check on people and talk about off-topics. To build a relationship and during times of limited social contacts, it is important to show interest and care about team members.
Social isolation has had an enormous impact on our personal lives. Last week my son asked me when are we going to have our next cocktail event? He said he misses the buzz in our house. My son is seven years old but used to the fact that his parents invite people home. There is a lot of talks, networking, good food, wine and brainstorming of new business ideas. He did mention that he was not that fond of having to present himself to the guests, although after our discussion he agreed that it is easier for people to communicate with him if they knew his name. He knows from previous training and conversations in the school that he is not allowed to talk to strangers, i.e. people he does not know unless his parents are present. “Naturally”, he said, “I need to be polite and greet people entering our home, but that is enough.” The next generation starts early, thanks to the schools virtual teaching methods, learning the importance of manners in online communication.
The lockdown has limited our social interaction with people, and even I, an introvert, am missing people. Mostly I miss the routine and the social infrastructure. I desperately miss the school, the babysitter and being able to organise my life productively. I do not want to feel guilty of taking my time to write my book and build my startup on top of the everyday stuff that we do. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary actions, that is why my solution is to work at nights or very early in the morning. It’s a better option than not doing it at all.
Stay safe, stay curious.