First week working from home – Our Views
Our director's views on working from home
As a business owner, this is a worrying time – but there is hope. Everything I thought I knew about business and marketing has been shifted completely off kilter. Traditional marketing tactics are becoming obsolete, brand messaging is changing, the way businesses communicate has been flipped on its head and now, more than ever, businesses are being scrutinised based on how they are choosing to react to this crisis.
Ordinarily, we have a very close-knit team – spending more time with each other than we often do with our own families. As such, it’s really important to me to know how my staff are getting on and whilst in some respects, my hands are firmly tied behind my back, I feel now more than ever, it’s important we work as a team to get through this. I have and will continue to do everything I can to support my colleagues, our partners, our contractors and of course our customers.
In the spirit of this, and now Square Media draw a close to the end of our first full week as a ‘remote working organisation’, I asked my team to share their thoughts and views. I hope you will find it as interesting, amusing and helpful as I did – we’re all ultimately in the same boat – working together to find a way through.
What have I learned this week? A LOT. But here are 5 stand-out points.
1) The phrase “People do Business with People” has never been truer. Whilst difficult decisions are being made by almost all businesses, wherever possible I have found businesses are expressing a stark level of understanding and integrity. There are of course rogues out there seeking to capitalize and profit from this crisis, but the overwhelming sense is that businesses are doing what they can to support each other. I feel humbled to work with the clients that we do, and I feel empowered to help them weather the storm.
2) Remote working is really not that bad. Yes, there have been some challenges along the way, but in all cases, a solution has been found. The team, the knowledge, the experience and in our (fortunate) case the ability to work is unchanged.
3) People can be more organised and communicate BETTER by working from home. This was something I didn’t expect. As a business owner I was incredibly nervous about shifting our entire operation from a physical office to isolation; with everybody working from their lounges, bedrooms, conservatories and (on these sunny days) their gardens. But wow. There are huge benefits – not least because we are forced to have more structure in our lives; daily catch-ups, weekly 1-to-1’s, and instant updates. I do believe that the current crisis will result in more social acceptance that working from home can and does work for some businesses, and I expect that this might be a permanent shift.
4) Focus, focus, focus. The inevitable consequence of remote working is that you are, after all, in the comfort of your own home. The place you typically escape from the outside world, have your creature comforts and try (in my case) to switch off. But focus has been the key. My team have set up a separate space in their homes just for work, I have encouraged background music playing to give a sense of normality and I have asked my team to be strict with taking breaks and walking away from their desks. All these things have given me and my team structure and have allowed for increased focus and productivity.
5) Life will, eventually, return to normal – but it will never be the same. Eventually, whether it be weeks or months, this crisis will pass. Businesses will in large part return to their bricks and mortar offices, the flow of money will pick up (at speed) and life will return to ‘normality’. But there will be change.
No longer can we be blissfully ignorant that the ‘doomsday’ scenarios will never happen – they can, and they will.
No longer can we take for granted the country we live in, the power of the state and the tenacity of our businesses.
And, no longer can we take for granted the people we work with.
Everybody will ultimately be held to account and remembered for the way they acted during this crisis. I want my team, our brand and our company to be remembered in a positive light – for doing our bit and helping clients (at our own cost if necessary) pull through this. We will not be seeking to profiteer but to provide quality services at a reasonable cost, that help businesses grow, survive the crisis and thrive thereafter.
In that spirit, I remain contactable come hook or by crook, should you wish to have a chat. Whether it be about your business or not, whether it be just for some free advice or a proposal, or whether it be to learn more about how we could support you at this time… I’m all ears, confined to my house and ready to listen.
Some of the team's views:
The first thing you notice is the peace, that background noise which you would normally switch off on a daily basis is now no longer needed. That 5-second conversation you have with your neighbour to find the status of a project now needs to be thought out more. Instead becomes a bullet point of questions so it saves having to contact them again. This might be the first and last conversation you have that day. Which highlights the situation we are in when you sit and pause for a moment. Work itself hasn’t changed, as individuals, we’re all beavering away doing what we do best.
Imagine a world where your work commute is the length of your hallway, all the snack and food you could want are just an arms throw away, well that is the reality of life at the moment. The inability to turn around and fire a question off has become an evident strain & it seems easier than ever before to feel out of the loop of conversation. However, it must be noted of the positives of working from home:
- You are truly independent. For myself this is a major thing, It’s much more than just the benefit of getting to work in your pyjamas. Working from home means you learn to rely on self-motivation & focus
- You can get more done: As weird as it sounds, being shut off from everything provides a calmer workspace to get the work done more productively.
I think what I have learnt over the last week is that whilst I, like many others, can’t wait for normality to return, I see no reason why working from home isn’t something that can be instilled as an option to more businesses!
Overall, my first full week of working from home has been great. Aside from not having any office neighbours and it being a lot quieter; working from home has been much the same for me, thanks to the daily catch ups we have in the morning and the instant communication channels we have in place, making it really easy to communicate and catch up with each other.
- Music choice is wholly your own
- My schedule is still the same and I’m still working on the things I enjoy
- It brings your pet to work day – every day
- Lack of general chit chat
Whilst I am no stranger to remote working or online collaboration, I have found this week to be pretty challenging, given that I have three small children also having to stay homebound – 5, 4 and a 17-month-old respectively.
I think the biggest lesson from this current situation we are all facing is learning how to adapt away from the office for a significant period. I have missed the office banter although Slack has helped as an alternative option.
If anything positive can be taken from this whole situation, I would say that I am feeling the energy of resilience within the team to help each other and our clients and other businesses through this. I’ve been in contact with other people across different countries and timezones recently and it’s great to hear how others are attempting to work around the current situation.
Another positive to take from this is being able to see your kids smiles on their faces that you miss when you are stuck in an office all day, but the flip side of that is putting up with more crying!
Overall, it’s great that we can have this flexibility and we should be thankful that we are in a better situation than a lot of others who are unable to work from home but can’t wait to get back to some sort of normality once we all get through this together!