Updated: Oct 29, 2020
In a recent quick survey, it was identified that whilst for some homeworking was a great opportunity to spend more quality time with family, the reality was longer hours, more perceived pressure to be on call all hours of the day and a loss of informal interaction with work colleagues! Here are some simple fixes you can implement.
It was a steep learning curve for the team to be working from home all of a sudden. A new way of working. Exciting and a welcome respite for those who didn't have a long daily commute for the foreseeable future. More time at home and no early mornings and late getting home.
After, for many, 7 months of working from home and with no prospect of a return to the office in the near to mid-term fatigue is setting in. There are many causes and here are a few that have been discussed recently by teams and some easy solutions to put in place:
Missing the office chats and banter with their colleagues:
At the office working hours have morphed into all day from 8am to 6pm
Meetings are no longer during core work hours, but at any time during the day
Colleagues felt they had to prove that they where working hard at home by being on call 24/7
These are the top 4, which caused the most stress for the team, not only did these impact them, 2-4 impacted their family and other commitments too:
1: Missing the Office Chats and Banter with their Colleagues:
There where two key aspects to this:
The social side of being at work
The informal communication about what's going on.
The Social and Communication side is really important as information is shared even when having lunch or making a drink, often known as Water Cooler Chat. For most of us it is the way we pick up what's happening in the business and also within other teams, and for some and especially those how are more outgoing and for those readers who know of Disc or Insights, Influencers / Sunshine Yellows it is part of who they are.
Think about how you may in the business create social spaces for the teams online?
One great idea that people tended to really like, was to chat a chat with a colleague about something that others in the business would not know about them, This enables chats to be had around other things that formal meetings. Interestingly even those who tended to be a bit more reserved loved this one.
The old pub quiz is off the cards, but a quiz night online is not. There are loads of questions online and the team can either work in groups to submit the answers or get together online as a virtual pub quiz.
2: At the Office Working Hours have morphed into all day from 8am to 6pm
This is a very big challenge for many of the team as they all tended to feel the impact of this in some shape or another:
When commuting into the office, everyone had their routine, some where early starters, early finishers, others later starters and later finishers. At 8am some of the team would be at their desks and they would be away by 4pm. This was the norm. However now working from home meant that they would be at their desks at 8am and still there at 6pm. This was down to points 3 and importantly 4
The challenges for the team members was that their hours often would work around family commitments, whether it be the school run nor even for one colleague, they had to check on an elderly family member or other commitments. The pressure of having extended days was not a simple don't do these hours, it was because the nature of the working day had so dramatically changed, but no one had really looked at the new rules for home-working.
3: Meetings are no longer during core work hours, but at any time during the day
This caused problems for many not only because it forced them to change external routines to be present or if they couldn't would miss key information or not participate.
In reality no one had deliberately changed the meeting routine, but is was assumed that as colleagues where all at home, then they could attend and no one had actually. The bigger challenge was when the meetings where being lead by a senior colleague and the attendees felt they had to attend. One instance was when a key head of department regularly ran meeting between the hours of 12noon to 2pm, which meant lunch was out for most, worse still one colleague had the family at home and had to make lunch for them and ensure they all ate. Why did he run meetings over these times? He worked early hours and had a big remit, but had to leave the office at 4pm. So he never thought about what was happening in others homes, more about what used to happen in the office, when it would be a working lunch!!!
Two very welcome fixes:
Core hours for meetings that allowed downtime and away from desk time for all the team during the day.
All colleagues would put their own core hours on all emails as part of their autosignature, so if they worked between 7.30am and 4pm everyone knew this.
In addition to this, all diaries reflected both these changes, so colleagues could return to a better balanced working day
4: Colleagues felt they had to prove that they where working hard at home by being on call 24/7
This fed from points 2 and 3 and with the fixes in place, yes a learning curve for all to get used to, respecting each others time, need for breaks and downtime went a long way to sorted point 4.
Additional tweaks and changes will be inevitable, and at the time of writing this, it was announced that Deloitte was closing offices and issuing those teams with new home-working contracts. A new way of working is upon us and it is here to stay for many, we just need to work on the new rules of how we all work within this new way.