In Melbourne, lockdowns and work from home orders kept us out of the office for nearly two years. If you wanted to choose an ideal test environment for a remote working experiment, this would not have been it! I am sure that some days, just as for Alice in Wonderland, time really did run backwards.
Along the way though, I think we have learned something about how to do it better and a lot about ourselves. I'm sharing some thoughts with you here and would love to hear back in return how you’re all doing this.
I expect the ‘how are you?’ part of a work call to take longer now. I think we took to giving an honest answer to that one sometimes during lockdown and some of my work relationships are richer for it. Worth remembering that if someone is doing a spell of home quarantine, the work Teams call is as close to human contact as they might get.
To keep body and soul from crumbling, I find ways to think and work away from my screen. I have my yoga mat behind my desk, down dog can be quite good for intractable problems. Daily stand-up calls can be done while out on a walk (if the others are the right kind of people and you don’t need your camera on). A recent team strategy day in the park with picnic rugs and kid-sized white boards worked perfectly.
The feedback loop can be broken. I like working from home. My instructions come in scheduled Teams calls or neatly constructed emails and not some garbled hallway conversation. Who could possibly be unhappy with that? It took a while for me to understand the grief out there, for some, about the old ways of doing things that vanished overnight when we ran for home two years ago. I try harder now to understand and ask how I can make it easier.
The Dalai Lama says “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” These last two years have worn us all down and some days in an Omicron wave, kind feels like an unreasonable ask. Working from home, I think you get more space to choose your response, a moment to catch your first instinct and check if it’s the right one before you unleash it, perhaps unkindly. I’m using that advantage to aim for kind whenever possible, with “always” as a clear development need!
At the moment, I think the best way to be happy might be to lower expectations just a little. If a peaceful morning coffee with a side of Wordle is as good as it gets today, well OK. The big dreams might have to wait.