COVID-19 has temporarily changed our working lives and routines. Most of us left the office a little less than two weeks ago and moved our workplace to our own homes ready to start at 8am the next morning. And with very little disruption thanks to the digital world we live in now.
And in less than two weeks we have all had to learn a whole new vocabulary and world with terms such as “self isolation”, “social distancing“ and “the curve”. As well as having to change our normal days beyond recognition, both in and out of work mode. Life is clearly very very different right now to how it has ever been before.
I used to work from home a couple of times a month and found it great to be able to get my head down, inspect my division, and think about our strategy without interruptions. However, some people love working from home. I am not one of those people...
Recruitment is a social job. We meet a wide range of clients and candidates and try and match them together. It’s also a tough job at times. When you need the support of those around you to get you the tough times... I love the buzz of the office and the energy of those around me. And I miss it, a lot.
Here is how I'm changing my working routine to adjust to working from home:
1. I keep the tv/radio on quietly in the background. Not loud enough to distract me, but loud enough not to be lost in silence when I am not talking on the phone or interviewing online. It’s clearly not the same as working with over 50 friends and colleagues but it does help me.
2. To keep our strong team spirit, I build in regular phone and video calls with my colleagues throughout the day. Just to share news and check in with how we are all feeling. We also do this to try to have some fun, recreate the buzz of the office, and encourage normal social interactions. I have a virtual lunch with my teams at least a few times a week, and last week I joined a clients virtual pub quiz (sorry my general knowledge was so bad...). On a Friday, we have a team collective "cheers", where we all get a glass of wine or beer from the fridge at the same time, accompanied by a weekly update from our MD. It’s a reminder that we are still a team - both the charities division I head up and the wider team at Pro.
3. I try and dress for the office. Whatever your normal dress code for the office, try to recreate at home. We have regular meetings online via Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and MSmeet with external clients and suppliers. And we still have an image to portray. Also, just by putting on my work clothes, it’s a clear sign to me and those around me that I am at work. It just changes my mindset to a work one and helps my productivity throughout the working day.
4. Have tea/coffee breaks, go out for your exercise once a day, and take regular breaks from your laptop throughout the day. It sounds obvious, but taking lunch away from my workstation really helps me, as well as having set clear times when I work, and when it’s "my" time. I focus on the day-to-day only. None of us can be sure about what other changes will be happening in a weeks time, a months time, or 6 months time. So, I try and focus on what I can control right now by setting myself daily targets, rather than worrying about what is going to happen next week or next month.
5. My only C-19 news is Boris's evening updates! It’s a routine and whilst I want to know what the latest news is, I don’t want to be consumed by it throughout the day. So Boris is my daily update on COVID-19, and I try not to read or listen to anything else about it during the day or evening. Life is so different and scary at the moment, so I try and keep myself up to date with what I need to know without it consuming my whole day and life.
Who knows how long this is going to go on for? When the peak will be reached? And if the world of work will ever go back to how it was before this? But most of us will still have our health. And most of us will have adapted very quickly and in our own unique ways, just showing how resilient and strong we all really are. When we come through this, life will be very different for a long time in many ways. I still feel a little shell shocked, I must admit. But, we have seen both the worst and best of human behaviour in the last few weeks - mostly the best. And that also keeps me going.
Stay safe all.