Working from home (WFH) is a new reality for a majority including me. I’ve been working from home for the past four weeks, give or take. The extra time at home combined with a limit on social interaction has given me plenty of time to muse. It has also been a time of reflection and recognition. I’ve put together five of my takeaways in this article.
Interestingly I’ve observed the impact of social distancing in people who otherwise prefer staying home over meeting others. Given enough time, both introverts and extroverts crave social interaction and the company of others — albeit in different dynamics and numbers.
I’ve noticed my introverted friends who are struggling with the lack of socialising. I’ve been video chatting and playing online Scrabble with a very close friend who is not the biggest fan of socialising. A month into staying home, we’re now more in touch than we ever were — and we used to be housemates in Cardiff!
I’ve also received more SOS messages from friends and family who are struggling with their mental health as they stare down the nose of a seemingly never ending lockdown in their countries. Thoughts of panic filter in and out their minds as they contemplate social isolation even as the virus spreads at a frightening rate and countries extend their versions of lockdown.
Following from point one, never has the importance of communication been more emphasised. Working from home has made me over communicate. I spend a lot more time on Slack, phone/ Whatsapp calls, Zoom meetings and even send more emails to ensure there is no miscommunication resulting from the lack of face-time. I used to dislike using video during conference calls but I’m all for it these days. Seeing the face of the person on the other end makes such a difference in our connection and conversation.
We now have daily meetings with video on for my team to catch-up with each other, and to flag any challenges they face either work-wise or personally as each of us adjusts to working remotely. I’m also doing far more 1-on-1 calls with my teams and clients to tackle the lack of in-person communications and any resulting miscommunication. It also helps with the challenge of “out of sight, out of mind”.
We even had a couple of virtual hangouts with team members across Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The joy of seeing faces, other than of those at home, is unparalleled.
Internal communication is another aspect that has been highlighted by the remote working situation. We live in an era where people are the biggest assets for most companies and businesses. Sadly, very few companies get it right in taking care of their people, and the current situation has certainly made the distinction.
It is heartening to see clients asking us for internal communications guidance in their efforts to keep staff informed through various platforms. This is quite a departure from the days of an occasional memo being circulated.
It makes me proud that REDHILL has taken all measures to keep our global teams safe and comfortable. HR has played a huge part in making this happen, keeping on top of the fast-changing situation in different countries, taking timely decisions and, most importantly, communicating to the REDHILL family frequently and clearly. A huge shoutout to Ann Marie and Niharica for working relentlessly to ensure our welfare.
We are so lucky to have such a strong technological infrastructure to tide us through this unprecedented situation. None of the above points would be possible without technology. Countries and companies that have lagged in digital transformation are now feeling the pinch. Many are scrambling to equip themselves with the necessary technology to enable the largest work from home experiment the world over. Companies, majority of them start-ups and SMEs, are rising to the challenge. The industry disruption that was being frowned upon is now being welcomed with open and eager arms.
The rampant use and reliance on technology brings with it issues of cyber security. Zoom-bombing and increased system hacks are two such examples. It is a good reminder that as technology evolves, we need to always ensure security evolves to keep up with it. Cyber threats are not a matter of if, they are a matter of when, as we embrace technology in all aspects of our lives.
We are in a new decade, living in the best of the technological and research age. Yet we find ourselves in the throes of a pandemic. A pandemic that has brought our lives to a halt, regardless of religion, social class, education, wealth or geographic location. It’s a stark reminder that we are all the same at the core of it.
Personally, this experience has renewed a sense of gratitude for me. Never before has my privilege been so apparent as I sit in my air-conditioned room in a country where the WiFi never disappoints, typing my thoughts on a laptop while enjoying the warmth of my dog curled up against me. I am so grateful for all that I have even as the world is turned on its head –family, friends, a dog, a job I love, a wonderful team, food on the table, music, books, movies and so much more that I take for granted.