Working from home – My takeout
Like many of us, the idea of working from home seemed like it was going to be something unique and special. A ‘luxury’ that most of us had never thought possible. The ability to regroup for the 3 weeks of lockdown, focusing on those parts of our lives that seemed to have been diluted in our pre-lockdown lives. That may have been the case initially, but here we are approaching Day 92 and the rose-tinted spectacles have melted away to make way for Zoom!
After that dramatic introduction, I am good with working remotely. It is awesome to be with my family full time (a luxury that I have not had in 11 years) and a massive relief to climb off the hamster wheel of always rushing. I think we underestimated just how frantic our lives have been prior to the lockdown and have masked the impact of that with even more franticness in the past.
I have found that we have been a lot closer as a team (ironically!) and the deliberate interventions we have put in place have really worked out well. I know that when things eventually get back to ‘normal’, we will carry on with some of the interventions like our ‘Daily Check In’ as it really aligns the team and is awesome to have a virtual huddle before we climb into the trenches.
The caveat is however, that we climbed off the hamster wheel and have climbed onto the Zoom/Teams wheel. With so little to do outside of work due to the restrictions, we have been consumed by this ‘new way or working’. I do worry that we are burning ourselves out and need to take deliberate steps to protect our energy and health.
I do believe that we will come out of this stronger, more resilient, and closer as a team. It is in times like this that person’s true colours are revealed and I am impressed on a daily basis by how our team has coped during these extremely trying times. #DLAROCKS
I have noticed three things about working in times of lockdown which have really surprised me: Firstly, I think our team of thirteen people is actually more closely knit than ever before! We talk together every morning in a team catch-up, and there are numerous other discussions going on throughout the day which somehow create a tighter bond than when we were all working from the same office. The second observation has been with regard to family – I have 8 and 9 year-old boys who I would have thought would simply not understand that because I was home they could not call on me at any time. The reality is that they have been so capable of understanding that I am “at work at home” and completely get it when I say I have a meeting now so I need some quiet and privacy. The third reality that has really surprised me is how hard we all work! Of course in times like this we are all hustling… and on top of that there is no breathing space between meetings, so one tends to set up meetings back to back with little time to breathe in-between.
It can be stated for the record that I have categorically not enjoyed the pandemic-imposed lockdown. A Leo being stuck at home for weeks is akin to a lion being stuck in an excessively small cage (Tiger King springs to mind from the recesses of weeks 1 and 2), ferocious pacing and roars included. The doom and gloom has only been exacerbated by how much I am missing being in the office with our team. The daily check-ins as well as the Friday afternoon drinks are the Zoom and Teams-calls that make this weird new reality bearable and will be a feature that continues going forward. It baffles the mind when listening to 702 on my portable home radio, the number of days that have passed. This Friday will be DLA DRINKS DAY 99. A landmark occasion for sure.
Lockdown has not been all bad, however. The team is closer than ever before, with stories of cat kills and roommate troubles giving us a daily insight into our colleagues’ lives. The lack of traffic, working in the sun or by the fire, winter cold fronts depending, lunch with my children and my dogs at my feet are surely positives to be acknowledged. Not to mention the newfound skills of sourdough baking and Netflix binge watching.
However, I refuse to accept this as my new normal and look forward to battling the Sandton traffic, Mugg and Bean coffee in hand to see all the faces at 114 West Street as soon as possible
During the lockdown employers, have now found innovative ways to allow their employees to work from home. Through this novel reality we are now seeing, lecturers, gym trainers, music teachers, virtual DJs and many more working from home and using some remarkable systems that allow us to interact with clients and colleagues.
For myself this meant rethinking firstly, where I would like to work and how I would like to work from home, seeing as though my entire family would also require their own workspace. In addition, working from home meant finding a rhythm, a good routine and this also meant that my budget & way of life would change. Saving on transport, peri-peri Nando’s lunch that kept me going, gym fees and a 3 hours plus daily commute in traffic from Midrand to Sandton – this meant flipping through radio stations, eating, applying makeup or catching up on personal phone calls and exciting podcasts.
My tips for remaining productive during this time consists of:
- Maintain a suitable work routine & communicate this with your team (8-5/9-6) whatever you may prefer.
- Set clear boundaries with friend and family, this will limit needless interruptions.
- Working from home is not a holiday and checking-ins are essential remember – it’s your job.
- Social distancing does not mean we can’t have face to face conversations via a device – which means that video calls will co-workers are essential from time to time. This helps maintain openness and a clear line of communication.
- Most importantly – eat well, exercise regularly, have fun on the weekends connecting with family and friends this has kept me going – take time to disconnect & avoid burn-out.
“Working from home has been a blessing in many ways, like avoiding Fourways traffic and gaining approximately 10 hours a week. This equates to roughly 140 hours since Deal Leaders implemented the work from home policy.
With this being said, the lockdown and isolation presented challenges when it comes to going about your normal life. It feels strange not having face to face interactions with my colleagues and limiting direct interaction with people. I find that this really takes a toll on you.
I shaved my head twice since lockdown started and would like to believe that my reasons were different from Britney Spears’ motivations back in 2007.
Taking all things into consideration I still enjoy the autonomy while my dogs believe that the new “Work From Home” approach is the best thing that ever happened.”
At the start of 2020, I watched a short video about “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” and started to ponder about what my life would look like as well as how I would feel if I slowed down and was less busy. Little did I know that in the next few weeks that followed, I would be forced to re-evaluate my priorities and slow down – Thanks COVID-19.
Working from home has in many ways been a great experience. I have time to cook meals from scratch instead of relying on take out, I spend more time with my husband and have read more books in an effort to cut down my screen time. From a work perspective, our team has grown closer and we have become more intentional in our efforts and communication. We have also benefited from the creative ideas that team members have had because they are no longer in a hurry – rushing or traveling from meeting to meeting.
However, to quote Marian Wright Edelman “In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad” and I feel like the technology (mixed with the lack of social activities) that brings us together has also altered our relationship to time making us busier and resulting in the hurry we previously experienced taking on a new form.
Working from home has been a blend of good days and long stressful tiring days. These days have included many comic relief moments like being entertained by the passionate singing of the “ABC’s” sung by a colleague’s daughter. I have days where I miss going to the office – separating work and home life but I also have days where I would not mind working from home to be the new normal.
As the days pass (some at an incredible speed) I feel a greater need to be mindful of keeping a healthy routine and to be cautious I don’t get caught up in the new form of hurry.
Working from home – My takeout
“May you live in interesting times” is a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in “uninteresting times” of peace and tranquillity than in “interesting” ones, which are usually times of trouble.
However, personally I must say that the ‘silver lining’ to this dark cloud has far overshadowed the negatives. Not spending two hours on the road daily to get to work and back being one of the biggest upsides. Getting hold of clients and having a meaningful conversation now seems the norm, back in the day you had to traverse the gauntlet of secretary, PA and hopefully get through to the client if he/she is not caught up in revolving wheel of meeting after meeting.
I suppose the way technology was evolving, working from home was always an inevitable possibility. We were just pushed in that direction a lot faster than expected.
My colleagues like to joke that I live in a commune. And with 5 guys all living together, and often 3 or 4 significant others opting to spend lockdown with their partners, the place could feel like a madhouse fairly rapidly. Not that I think I am alone in this one, and certainly not the worst off. I could have a new born baby, and a two year old, to contend with. But we quickly made it work, after brief fights over internet usage (I do wonder how much work my housemates actually achieve when they also need to be downloading entire seasons of Billions to the computers) and one broken window from a lunchtime courtyard soccer tournament, we settled into a rhythm as I imagine the rest of the country also has. We figured out that a lot of time and money is wasted traveling, there is suddenly so much more time in the day and working in your pajamas, wrapped in a blanket with a heater nearby makes weathering out the Johannesburg cold just a little easier.
Working from Home
Although I have worked from home, either full-time or part-time for the last 16 years, the Covid 19 circumstances have been somewhat different.
The convenience of time saved on commuting, is a major plus for me, eliminating the stress of the early morning rush.
The flexibility of being able to accommodate work and family commitments and not having to sacrifice one for the other has been invaluable.
Having one’s office in the home space does require a certain amount of discipline in creating a healthy balance between private and work life. Planning and organising of both ends of the scale cannot be underestimated.
While a vast majority of the work can be done remotely, there are some benefits of face-to-face communication which are lost.
Working in separate environments has required an enormous amount of blind faith, but has built an element of trust and good relationships in the Team.
Working from home – My takeout
Losers quit when they fail, and winners fail until they succeed!
Being thrown into the deep end of working from home at first seemed like it would fail. However, I am privileged to be part of a winning team!
Working from home has been a blessing in disguise. This has allowed relationships to become stronger with family members. Having our daily check-ins has allowed us as a team to speak to each other more and again has allowed us to become closer and more open with each other.
For someone that makes use of the Gautrain, the shlep of rushing to catch the train and on some days being packed like sardines in the train is something that I do not miss.
Apart from strengthening relationships, working from home has increased productivity as we have that extra time in the comfort of our homes to be more focused.
DLA has proven that no matter the circumstance or situation we are winners and have succeeded in working from home during this trying and testing times.
Embracing the change
In February-20, work life as we know it, was turned on its head with employees of businesses around the globe told to stay home. Working life has been forced to adapt to a new – permanent – way of doing things. This has presented both challenges and opportunities for employers and employees alike. For employees, these challenges and opportunities relate primarily to productivity and in my experience, the opportunities outweigh the challenges.
Opportunity knocks at 6am every morning, with working from home allowing alarms to be set up to an hour later than before. No early morning traffic means a proper breakfast and sitting down to first meetings with hot coffee in hand. This first meeting is also more pleasant without the pre-meeting stress of non-functioning robots, potholes, distracted drivers and morning radio ads.
The day is more productive with online meetings negating the need for travel and enabling more “face” time with clients. Getting hold of the correct person has never been easier, with no non-human switchboards or suspicious PA’s blocking contact.
Embrace this change, use this time wisely to focus on and craft your skills and reputation. Don’t slack on communication with colleagues and clients, avoid the mindless scrolling through social media feeds, take online courses and upskill yourself for the coming environment, spend time with family and friends, all from the comfort of your own PJ’s.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Sir Winston Churchill