In 2015 I relocated to the West of Ireland to my wife’s home village in Moycullen, Connemara Galway. I approached my employer (a global digital organisation) six months prior to moving, expecting that I would end up leaving to seek alternative employment. I was lucky and pleasantly surprised that my employer offered me the opportunity to work into a new office in Dublin Ireland and explore working from home.
Connect with your teams, people are social creatures, our talents mental wellbeing is paramount
As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,” John Robbins recounted in his marvelous book on health and longevity, “Healthy at 100.”
This major difference in survival occurred regardless of people’s age, gender, health practices or physical health status. In fact, the researchers found that “those with close social ties and unhealthful lifestyles (such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise) actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits,” Mr. Robbins wrote. However, he quickly added, “Needless to say, people with both healthful lifestyles and close social ties lived the longest of all.”
With Covid19 now making the headlines, social anxiety is being exacerbated through digital platforms.
“Remote First” for the win
Remote first doesn’t mean that we have an employee or two who works in some obscure part of the country. Remote first is about making an immersive experience for the whole team.
- Video conferencing by default: sometimes you need to be brave and turn on your web cam to start this off if you are new to this environment. You will quickly find people stumbling to follow suit. Web camera help us increase our connectivity and I’d find it impossible to not do this in most meetings now.
- Consider geographical distribution: are you working with colleagues in different locations, this is one thing. But different timezones means you need to consider everyones working day, there might only be a few hours of overlap in a working day. Inviting people to late night meetings without consideration of their location won’t go down well if it becomes the new norm.
- Discuss ways of working: different people have different needs, most of our team likes to pair programme and it’s a great way to mentor and learn if done correctly. I think it’s fine if some people prefer not to partake in this, though the team then needs to figure out how they can reach out to them more, so they don’t become disconnected.
- Be creative: I hit some VPN issues last week, it took my boss to point out that I can just turn the VPN off and still connect to Skype without having my bandwidth throttled. Explore new tools, there is a plethora of them out there.
- Make a list: I make a list every day, I’m not sure what it is, but it feels good to tick things off a list. Sometime I even cheat adding something tiny that I already know is basically done.
- Make sure you have a suitable space to work from… I’m sorry the kitchen table or couch doesn’t cut it and I’ve never done this. You need to be focused and disciplined to make this work. If you are lucky enough to have fibre, invest in fibre to the home, so no one can ever claim that you are being less productive by WFH.
- Don’t put off meetings: cancelling meetings because you are going to be in the office next week generally isn’t a great idea. I always try to think, what value am I going to add here. In general, if you don’t think you will add value to a meeting, don’t go.
Life Balance is Important
Try and keep to a routine, you may need to book a slot for lunch. I have at times found myself getting stuck to my mac. It takes more discipline to step away and take lunch or even better, why not exercise!?
You are only valuable to your employer if you are delivering value to their business. Make technology work for you. I’m really lucky to work with some of the top talent in my organisation and we are a remote first team. This means putting everyone on a level playing field.
With the outbreak of Covid19, employee’s are now falling into remote working without a proper setup. So we need to support our talent and we could change how we all work in the future.
Follow me on @belfast_nerd