Career path, New stuff

Working from home – the new norm?

By now, if none of you reading this has still not felt the effect of the covid-19 pandemic directly or indirectly – please I want your life NOW. You must not be living with us on earth or better still, your senses and life pattern is wired to another time zone away from the rest of us. Coming to think of it, do we have cases in either The North or South Poles ? I need to check on it.

At the moment, those who were used to waking up an leaving the house ( I no longer say “the comfort of your house” since by now we are defining what comfort is in our home !!!. We would then get into some form of transport routine and say .. “am off to work. ”  Some of us here were so air borne that they were strangers to their neighborhoods. People had no idea who you and I are and by now they are already looking at you strangely. We were busy busy bodies, in the corporate world deadlines to beat, people to meat, deals to close and yes, a celebratory catch drink a the end of the successful day – okay this could also be a time to reflect on the same day before saying to your buddies “am off to go home, see ya tomorrow.” Totally high flying in the working world and adorned in designer suits and wearing similar scents to make a statement of who we are in the market place.  There seemed a reason to sleep so we can wake up and freshen up to go somewhere ie WORK.

Then come March 2020 and all this seemed to have taken a turn and one is told – DO NOT COME to work. Initially it was as simple as that – JUST DO NOT.  Then as time went on, for those who knew that life must go on and have been resilient, they switched the tune to WE ARE WORKING FROM HOME (WFH) . What a transition – there was not induction or orientation to this but – just go home and work from there. Hold on, so one is waking up to do work how? What about my clothes, shoes, scents and did I mention make up that puts ones image similar to that of an international magazine cover. What do you that we are no longer leaving the house to go to work? Am supposed to work how?

This is indeed a new concept that we all need to come into terms with regardless of where we are working.  However, let it also be known that NOT all jobs can be done from home. Yes, it is very true. Think about the receptionist or the tea staff or even the housekeeping team in the office. How do they work for the company from home? Do they now loose their jobs, is there something left for them to do.

During the onset of the corona virus, many computer companies received massive orders especially for laptops from companies. The internet service providers are now cashing in major due to the fact that henceforth, they are the conduit to get work done. I cannot forget to mention the virtual meeting applications that were only used when it was absolutely necessary and it still felt that the meeting was not complete. But now, let us be honest these application owners are cat walking themselves to the bank due to their increase in demand. Okay let us stop being humble about it, they are minting millions from the extra ordinary demand for the use of these applications. This is the one time that the IT departments in many organizations have managed to shine beyond expectations. We now find that we ALL and I mean ALL have to have some basic IT skills to navigate the ‘new norm” as it is being called.

As we grapple to find our way around this new maze, let us look at some of the tips to ensure we are on top of this new game.

  1. Have the appropriate working environment. This means, you have stable internet connectivity, a place to actually sit and work – a healthy posture while working is off course recommended.  The head phones or is the camera working well lest you are not visible during meetings and people think you are playing truant even while at home. The computer in use will need to be viewed as company property so that you are not sharing with the rest of the family. Please remember, there is no “real privacy” when you are handling company property. And if you have children who are computer savvy, your IT team will just send an email and ask – “what sites are you exactly visiting?” or worse, the kids will bypass existing firewall and the rest is disciplinary.
  2. Ensure you have a proper work plan. Trust me on this one, I know that being home can be a task on its own. If you are female like I am, the usual house chores will still need to be done since the house managers many no longer be affordable. The kids will also need to be attended to – ie settle them down to keep them busy. The usual things to do list must still be used to get the work done and done in good time.
  3. Schedule work breaks as part of the above plan. Personally I have found that being in the office has better breaks than being at home. When at home, things just flow and flow and by the time one takes a break its way past normal working hours – especially if the people in the house are not bothering you as such. Or it can be the reverse, the breaks maybe too long and one gets lost in the situation of “I need a break. ”
  4. Ensure accountability of work done is still maintained. These would be things like reports to be sent to supervisors for review. We note that just because one is at home, it done not mean that performance management measures forgotten. As a good employee, it is expected that by the time you were being sent home or thereafter, a practical performance monitoring system was put in place and you are well versed to work with it.
  5. Plan for a time were the team can still meet virtually. This is one bit of the WFH element has made us loose the human touch of work. We are so behind the screens that we may forget how it is to smile or wink at that cute colleague over at the coffee machine ( and this is not harassment so please do not get me wrong! Or even exchange a professional hug and or a high 5 when they deal goes through – then toasting with mugs of hot cocoa  ( unless that cheeky one has laced theirs with some hotter drink ( wink wink) . Get into a habit of having virtual catch up sessions as a team that works together. Just hook up to chat online and enjoy your drinks and biting’s too. One of my future articles will be the down side of WFH – because this is not entirely a walk in the park. This is where you can be in your pajamas and enjoy being on a screen J. Laughter is such a great thing to practice especially this time when indeed there seems not much to laugh about (sigh).
  6. Something very interesting may actually happen. You may not want to go back to work in the office set up. There may come a time when you will be demanded to go back to actuall office set up – hopefully when it is deemed ‘safe’ to do so. And this is a whole new ball game for your employer. What measures have you taken to prove that working from home still makes you a valuable employee? Sadly, we still have a few employers who still believe that they MUST see staff on a desk that was paid for by the company. They still want the physical human connection with their staff and yet, it is not as viable any more. I can tell you now, you will be the determinant of this particular element of this new norm.

Even as we are getting used to this, we also need to understand that this was already happening to very many companies all over the world. You could be one of them eg, those who have online content writing – most really do WFH. I know teachers in the western world who have been doing this for a very long time and still get results for their hard work.

This therefore means, that we should begin to embrace our ‘new norm’  as the change the whole world has been plunged into.  Truth be told, we know all too well that things will never be the same again. And even after the vaccine is out and we all get body jabbed in places that are normally covered, things will be different. Even if we go get back to the physical office, we will have had the experience of working from home and can tell what works well for us.

Heraclitus once said “The only constant in life is change”

 Am I really ready for it? Do I have a choice?

 

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