It’s been almost six weeks now since the majority of Irish workers first had to base themselves at home because of the Covid-19 crisis. The move has been essential to help 'flatten the curve' of the pandemic and it's a regime that we at StoryLab, like so many other businesses, have done our best to follow!
We know remote working is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are born to work from home but for many workers it’s been a huge adjustment and they miss the contact with colleagues. However, just because you’re not doing business face-to-face doesn’t mean you’re cut off from your colleagues and clients. With the right tools and sticking to a routine, you can effectively navigate the challenges of working remotely.
While the physical StoryLab office is empty, our team is busy working just as hard from home. Here’s a few things we can share about the journey so far.
Before Covid-19, I worked from home one day a week so I thought I was used to it, however, working permanently from home has given me a different perspective. I used to put off scheduling intensive work calls or holding video meetings as I was worried about phone and broadband coverage or interruptions from little ones after the school run was done. Now, I am much more relaxed even if I don’t have the perfect conditions to do work. Everyone else is in the same boat so they know there will be interruptions and I think this tolerance will remain long after Covid-19 has gone.
After years of working ineffectively at home, the lockdown has forced me to shape a much better routine and I have found I have been quite productive with work and focused on getting through it. Even though our team members work very well independently on their own, the video team call really helps to keep us gelled together and gives a sense of purpose, cutting out the sense of drift that remote working can engender.
Before the pandemic, I would walk to and from work each day. Since we’ve been working from home, I’ve realised how much I rely on those short bits of exercise to get me into work mode. So I stick to that routine and get a 30-minute walk in before I sit down at the computer. As soon as I’m finished for the day, I “leave” work by getting another stroll. I do miss the office banter but I stay connected with my colleagues by having a quick “coffee break” call, once or twice a week, to chat about a project we’re sharing and just check in with each other.
Without our usual early start and creche drop-off, my two-year old has started going to bed a little later than usual, which makes working from home easier as she now naps for three hours every afternoon. To keep her entertained for the rest of the working day, I’ve set up a mini desk with lots of colours, pencils, paper and even a broken laptop, so she can copy mummy and practice her writing skills. While, I miss seeing my lovely team mates in person, video-calls and instant messages are a great alternative and help with brain-storming and collaboration. And lunch breaks in the garden with my ‘mini co-worker’ are an added benefit.
I ran my own design business for six years so I am pretty used to working from home and know the importance of having a solid routine. In saying that, I do miss the daily interaction with the rest of the team as it is key when we are working on projects together. Phone calls and video conference meetings help but nothing compares to face to face chats about how a job is progressing and what needs to be done. It is a very weird time and I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what was on the horizon but all we can do is adapt and keep things going.