Three, four weeks ago the idea of skipping the morning commute, having an hour or two extra in bed each morning and being able to work in your PJ’s all day might have sounded like a dream come true.
However, it’s a rare that reality will ever live up to the dream.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) or as we prefer to call it here at cloudThing… a pain in everyone’s ‘ahem’, has well and truly got everyone in its grip.
It’s likely if you’re reading this then you’re either self-isolating, working from home or both.
Working from home (or WFH for easier use), as fun as it sounds to start with, brings its own challenges.
If you’re not used to WFH then it’s very easy to start to feel isolated. It's very easy to develop cabin fever.
Work might not seem so urgent anymore, you lose touch with colleagues and all sense of collaboration just goes out the window.
That’s bad for your staff, it’s bad for you and it’s bad for business.
It doesn’t have to be like that though…
If you’re going to make sure everyone still feels part of a team during the coronavirus crisis then they’re going to need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively.
There won’t be any quick chats whilst making a cuppa in the canteen or popping by someone’s desk to ask a quick question.
But those kinds of interactions are vital for a business to run smoothly and for everyone to feel part of a team so they need to be replicated with technology.
cloudThing have been using Microsoft Teams for awhile now and we’re big fans.
Staff can message each other directly, groups can be set up for specific chat topics (whether that be by department, project or something else) and it allows for video conferencing… Don’t underestimate the importance of those face to face calls in making people feel included!
If you need any advice on Microsoft Teams or the licenses involved then get in touch, cloudThing will be happy to help.
But whatever platform you pick, Skype, Zoom or something else, it’s important your staff can still feel connected and technology is the simplest way of doing it whilst everyone’s isolating.
You may (and we say may) be tempted to try and quash any needless ‘chit chat’ over a collaboration app like Microsoft Teams.
It’s important you fight that urge though.
Staff talk to each other. They always have and always will.
Whether it be to the person next to them, bumping into someone from a different department in a corridor or gossiping around the coffee machine; people like to talk and doing so makes everyone feel more connected as a team.
Those natural interactions won’t happen anymore with everyone stuck at home unless it’s via video or text-based apps.
Whilst this may seem more visible to you written down, it’s only replacing a perfectly normal phenomenon that’s always occurred in your business.
If you’re looking to engender a sense of camaraderie whilst everyone’s stuck at home don’t crack down on this… in fact try to encourage it as workers who feel isolated will be a lot less productive.
Ah, a Friday night drink down the pub with colleagues before you go home, what could be better?
Well it’s not likely to happen now with everyone working from home and all the pubs shut down… or is it?
It’s vital for business continuity in these troubled times to project an air of normality and the best way to do that externally is to encourage it internally.
So on a Friday night after work set up a conference call with all your staff. Encourage everyone to go get a drink of their choice and just let everyone chat.
You’ll be amazed how positive everyone comes away feeling!
Set up some challenges for your teams whilst they’re working from home to let them compete with other members of staff… and no, we don’t mean extra sales targets!
Whether it’s a Mario Kart league everyone can play online and compete in or a challenge as to who can run the furthest on their lunch break, using the Strava app to track it; nothing brings people together quite as much as a bit of friendly competition!
This doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds.
One of the first things cloudThing did when the UK went into full on lockdown mode was set up a shared Spotify playlist that everyone in our UK and Indian offices could contribute too.
The idea was everyone listening to the same music at home would feel a bit more connected but take it from us, it’s much more fun guessing who’s added what song, with the ensuing banter that invariably leads to…
On a more serious note, this is an important one.
It’s entirely possible your staff will be more productive at home, with additional time saved on commuting but it can also be a double-edged sword.
With a laptop set up at home it’s far too tempting to get carried away and sit at it all day and that’s not great for your staff.
Make sure you block out an hour daily in everyone’s diaries for lunch and make sure they take it. Encourage them to get up and move around, do something else with their family… anything away from the laptop.
They’ll come back feeling a lot more refreshed and productive!
What’s more fun than a pub quiz?
And it’s so easy to set up beforehand!
Downloading the questions/answers from somewhere should be the easiest bit.
Then all you need to is set up some blank answer sheets on an app like Microsoft Forms for everyone to fill in, set up a conference call and have one person read out the question whilst a second marks the forms as they’re completed round by round.
A nice, simple bit of fun to bring everyone together.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to work?
You log in, make a cup of tea then say hi to everyone and see what they did last night don’t you?
That doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to change.
Set up a conference call each morning with your immediate team. You can almost use it as a scrum call if you want, teeing up what everyone’s priorities are for the day.
On the same token give your team a call just before they leave.
That face time is invaluable in creating a sense of team.
cloudThing are an AGILE technol;ogy developer so a lot of this is second nature to us. As you can tell from teh article though... we like to chat! If your organisation is struggling with the transition to a working from home modal then feel free to get in touch, we'd be happy to offer help where we can.