If you’re similar to us at Technology for Accountants (T4A), you’ll be checking in with your fellow colleagues, friends and family on a regular basis at the moment. Once upon a time, this would be ‘the norm’ – an assumed part of your day – something you perhaps took for granted even? However now, in the new age of ‘Social Isolation’, we have to work at it and make it a top priority.
We also have to flex new muscles and work on things like workday ‘routine’; this was something we complained about in the good ol’ days but now we crave its regularity! Yes, it’s certainly a new world out there and we don’t necessarily have all the answers to it yet.
Below are some tips and tricks we’ve documented that we’d like to share with you, in the hope they may help you too. It’s not JUST about IT support and strategy with us (although, yes, it’s paramount to the success of the transition process) but also guiding you through this challenging period. Please read on further for some advice that may help you through this next stage:
- Provide useful information
One of the key things an employer can do is to provide useful information to its employees. This includes everything from clear guidance on what policies are in place whilst Coronavirus is active, changes that are happening across the business and resources to support employees through difficult times. This could be something as simple as providing a resource information page such as:
Make it clear how you’re planning to support employees across your company, so they don’t feel abandoned.
- Establish support networks
It’s very easy when working from home in isolation to feel like you haven’t got the support of the colleagues you once had – some people thrive off this interaction with their peers and rely on it as a means of socialising.
Sometimes a work friend is a key avenue of support and comfort for a particular individual. Companies should consider ways of creating support groups across teams, from home, (even if it’s something as simple as a weekly catch up video call).
Every company will be different, but it’s important to recognise individuals from all levels (business owners and management included) who may need additional guidance and support in these coming months. We need to be as inclusive and collaborative as possible.
One of the things Iain has done is a quick 5 min phone call at 7:30am with a few other IT business owners – part mental wellbeing, part how do we tackle certain challenges.
- Video conference calls are your friend
Whatsapp, Zoom, Microsoft Teams – there are a huge number of apps out there that provide options for multi-person video calling. It’s not the same as face-to-face collaboration however it is a way to feel connected and informed – it just takes a little bit of getting used to.
- Stay connected and in collaboration
Have you noticed a range of ‘new’ apps recently (as in you’ve never thought to use them before) like Houseparty? Similar to the last point, it’s important to our mental wellbeing to remember that we’re a part of a community and network. The common thread throughout all these pointers is to stay connected to your network as much as possible. Reach out both professionally and personally – you may not realise it but the person who you’re connecting with may need to feel included as much as you do.
There are memories from WWII about the regular ‘blackouts’ where families were literally forced inside into darkness for the safety of their township. There wasn’t an interactive world available to them then. Still they had to survive. We have the luxury to virtually integrate ourselves if necessary and now is NOT the time to be shy about it!
- Create a new routine
Strict routine is key. It’s so very easy for work and personal life to blend into one when you work remotely. Set yourself times to work (e.g. 9am-1pm and then 2pm-6pm, or whatever works for you). Stick to those as aggressively as you can and then use the time not working to do what you enjoy. It’s not that different from a ‘normal’ workday if you practise it enough.
Clearly, if you’re social distancing and self-isolating, the things you enjoy may not be as readily accessible at the moment, but try to find new ways to get in that all-important ‘me time’. Call a family member/friend. Read a book. Go for a walk. But do it all guilt free, away from dedicated work ‘time’.
- Create a ‘clear’ work environment
Wherever possible, it is highly recommended that you put in place a space to go and work, that’s separate as much as possible from your personal life. If you don’t have an office at home, try and set up a clear space at a table where you can work comfortably and go undisturbed. Finally, make a great cup of coffee and ‘nest’ into your new space.
- Get outside!
The general advice coming from the authorities at the moment is to distance yourself from people as much as possible and to stay away from groups of people. However, go for long walks, meditate, bike ride and simply give your eyes a rest from the computer screen. The world is still there; just keep looking outside for it when you can!
8. Limit ‘white noise’ apps
If you don’t need to listen to COVID-19 updates 24/7 – then simply don’t. Stay informed but only in your downtime and in a healthy way. This also goes for the ‘regular’ distraction methods such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. You’re in control of what you see and hear – now is the time to practise that self-discipline and practise it well.
- Lots more family time
Whilst always positive, like any good thing, it needs to be moderated.
Spouses will need to support one another informing their kids about what’s going on, as well as giving each other space when they each need it. Whether you are single or co-parenting, your familiar pattern will now be tested.
Working at the same time as parenting will challenge most households and establishing a clear routine for all members of the family is imperative to making a successful experience for everyone. Embrace it but set clear parameters.
- Be as flexible as possible
Employers, employees, family members, friends – these are really challenging times for everyone and it looks like we are going to have to change the way we live and interact for a significant period of time, as the Coronavirus crisis persists. While we hear about ‘social isolation’ on a daily basis, we must practise virtual connectivity and community collaboration at the same time. Workplaces are setting up employees at home, giving them some leeway to implement all the pointers above so they can maintain a high level of work productivity. We all must be flexible whilst we learn how to steer through these unchartered waters.
However, it could also lead to some of the most creative thinking we have seen in a very long time. The ‘square’ has imploded and we’re forced to think well outside the box to be successful professionals. The road so far has proved that companies are very resilient and it bodes well for the future.
As IT providers, we are here to discuss all types of communication ‘strategy’ – even outside the usual spectrum of simple technology. We believe the future has limitless potential and we are here to talk to you about it when you’re ready.