With the world in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic many employees are being encouraged to work from home to help curb the spread of the virus within the community.
If you’re a small business owner working from home you are probably a pro at this already! But for those teams used to working together in offices how will this sudden change to working from home actually work? In order for employees to continue their daily jobs equipment may need to be provided, productivity apps and software chosen and installed as well as ground rules and expectations outlined for all.
Over the next fortnight the Mums & Co team will be piloting working from home. We are a team of six working a variety of full and part-time hours. Everyday we will share our experience of WFH as a team, the highs, the lows and the discoveries we make a long the way.
Hopefully our experiences will help you and your team transition smoothly to WFH if needed.
It’s so nice not having to do the daily commute into the office! Sitting at the laptop screen with a hot fresh coffee at 9 am without having had to deal with all the other morning commuters on public transport is professional bliss.
At 9:15 am we start the day with a daily ‘stand-up’ meeting. This is our daily touch base where we let the team know what the plan is for the day and if there are any issues that need resolving to achieve these tasks. It’s early and speedy, we each get 2 minutes before moving on to the day's work.
One of the brilliant perks of working from home is of course being able to wear stretchy pants and ugg boots - so much more comfortable than office attire. On a serious note though, having 3 hours of uninterrupted time to plan and finish a major proposal was a definite pro.
This WFH regime will take a little getting used to as there are distractions galore such as washing, the dishwasher, checking the fridge (multiple times) as well as the general news feed, but it will all just take some getting used to!
“No commute time. New 'Daily Stand Up' meeting format to keep the team focused and communicate blockers kept me focused and informed on my work too. Stocked up with 1kg of fresh coffee beans and picked up a new coffee plunger. Slack enabling a new form of communication with a task force we've established.”
“Saved almost 3 hours - 2 hours commute ; got 30 more mins sleep in the morning :) ; saved 30 mins of prep time in the evening.”
“Will need to keep an eye on taking breaks / proper times to step away from work. Kept 3y.o home to minimise contact with his grandparent carers. During my first 30 min conference call he managed to request food, different forms of entertainment, that I listen to him please, and a bandaid. “
“I think I might put on a few kilos munching stuff all day long :("
“Keeping track of time. Using an app like Toggl is helping to keep track of hours.”
Day two of our new work arrangement. We started the day with a laser focused Stand Up Meeting setting the day's goals. Each of us had two minutes to cover our goals for the day and outline any blockages that we may need assistance from other team members to achieve these goals. We’ve discovered that we need a couple of minutes of general catch up time before we jump into the serious ‘work stuff’ just to have a chat and find out what’s happened in each other’s lives… e.g. today we discovered that most of our pets have middle names (who would’ve thought!)
As a team we’ve jumped on Slack and Trello to help us work really efficiently as a team during this time.
“Proud my team are genuinely understanding of pressures and considerations of WFHWITHKIDS. No judgement. But conscious that we keep things professional. Love that we've brainstormed an amazing resource for parents for activities to keep kids entertained at home.”
“No commuting is amazing.”
“The webinar banter before a stand up is awesome! Team is now laser focus on deliverables and success. My 130pm-245pm zone is POWERFUL “
“Still setting up at home with the right equipment. Kids are noisy - will have to source some noise-cancelling headphones. “
“Hearing all the drama going on the other side of the door with a toddler and preschooler at home is distracting.”
“Wifi went down twice today (due to the sudden overload I guess) - makes me realise how much reliant we all are on the internet”
Day three with the full team working from home. We all seem to be getting into a nice rhythm - starting the day with our stand up meeting on Google Hangouts and moving on with our tasks throughout the day.
Things we have learned over the last few days include good conference call etiquette, following this guide helps us be as efficient as possible and keep the communication lines open:
“Teamed up with another family #WFHWITHKIDS and took turns supervising 2 year old and 3 year old between 3 adults. It was like a tag team conference call. Worked surprisingly well and enjoyed the adult interaction. Would be good to trial this concept with the team.”
“Getting so much focused time to really concentrate on tasks.”
“I got to step into a role of scrum master that I wouldn't have otherwise - fantastic learning opportunity. Fantastic digital serendipity and awesome for networking, funnily enough! Saving heaps of time not commuting to work (some of us are using this for professional development, I'm enjoying the networking)”.
“Calls that I think will take 15 minutes are talking 30 minutes. This will calm down but I'm feeling a bit behind today.”
“It's hard to host a webinar when the toddler (supervised by another adult) slams the piano lid shut on their fingers.”
Day four of our work from home pilot. The team is really getting into the swing of work from home life. We have realised that it is so important to have a routine to help set work/home life boundaries and to keep the mind focussed.
"Participated in a zoom conference with 25 people today and it ran really smoothly. Discovered a neat option with the 'break out' function - you can break out into smaller teams during the call and then re-group."
" Getting puppy love from the girls AND pats on MY head from my partner when sick is a huge WIN. And still got a lot ticked off all from the comfort of my couch."
"Amazing day, so focused thanks to creating a plan and priorities for working and learning from home with a potential Mums & Co daily calendar template. I've managed to clean the house, go for a walk, swim in the ocean, be successful and focused at work."
"Using the saved up commute time for professional development !!"
"Feeling a little smothered by COVID-19. Definitely feeling weighted and depleted. Had to step back and take my own advice. Remember what I can control and let go of what I cannot. Have stopped researching myself into anxiety."
"Such an energiser bunny today will probably fall in a heap tonight! Also the intensity of COVID-19 has made me very focused might be OTT for some!"
"None, I can get used to this WFH life."
"Feeling a little cabin feverish - need to get out of the house and stretch my legs!"
Day five of our work from home pilot. The team has made it through the first week with everyone working from home. One thing that a number of us have found challenging this week is managing to get a full days work done with kids at home as well. Some team members had children at home due to social distancing from elderly family members who normally provide childcare. Other team members had kids at home that were unable to attend childcare due to illness. So we had a little chat and started brainstorming our ideas on how to keep kids entertained whilst at home.
"First full week working from home. Overall, been super productive!"
"Had a beautiful morning with the dogs at the beach, picked up my fresh fruit and veg :) Feeling rejuvenated and ready to roll."
"Finding the amount of time that the kids spent on the iPad this week was a marked increase than our usual. Conscious of being present."
Week two of the Mums & Co team working from home. Last week the team loved avoiding the daily commute and have been using the extra time fruitfully to do some extra training and exercise. One of the challenges we have faced is the social isolation caused by being at home on your own. This week some of us have had our partners also joining us working from home, which is great for a little adult conversation over a cuppa.
There are a number of ways teams can help combat social isolation working from home. Our team has set up chat channels on Slack which are non work-related, as well as our daily video conferencing on Google Hang Outs and Zoom.
"Lunch freshly made by Husband (who is also now working from home)."
"Partner made me lunch and took care of me in between work & sobs ahh..."
"Today was hard for me to keep motivated as personal issues had me emotional all day. Looking forward to a big sleep, am emotionally drained."