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Day 3 – Working from home in lockdown

The challenge

How do you keep your team engaged and in the loop when they are all working remotely – The answer: Hold daily water cooler sessions!

So for me, this is day 3 working from home. I have an office at home and have, for as long as I can remember always had the ability to work from home. This though, this is different. My whole team are also working from home. The office is closed and the lights are switched off. If I’m honest, the office looked a bit sad when I left 3 days ago but then I realised that the investment in technology we have made over the last few years has really paid off.

Julia has taken her desk phone home which means inbound calls on our main number are being answered even though nobody is in the office. Craig and his support team have also taken their desk phones home. Julia, along with Heidi & Jen are able to put calls straight through to support and because our email and line of business applications are all cloud based, our whole team is now based at home and able to function just as though they are in the office. The service delivery team are continuing to roll out projects remotely.

I say function… we have come across a few teething problems. Firstly, collaboration when your colleague is sat next to you is easy. When they are 40 miles away, not so easy. You have to think things through a little differently. It is not necessarily a bad thing as you document things better. Stuff you might have just said in passing now needs an email. No more complicated, just different.

And then there is the loneliness. The debate around the virtual water cooler the other day was “what do we do at the weekend” if work has invaded our homes and we are social distancing ourselves at the weekend. This used to be a long dog walk or a visit to the pub. For the time being though, these will have to wait. I suspect once I have washed the car, cut the grass, helped start a 1000 piece jigsaw and got way too involved in a Lego project, that I will have to find something else to do on Saturday afternoon…

The virtual water cooler is good though. I have encouraged my team to all join a Microsoft Teams meeting at 5pm after the answerphone kicks in. 2 rules: 1 that we can  but don’t really need to talk shop. It’s OK to have a conversation about what is for tea tonight as well as what challenges you may have had during the day. We have had some really interesting conversations. And rule number 2 is the one that has been brilliant. We have to pick a theme for the meeting. Monday was outrageous shirt day, Tuesday was Geek’s with Wednesday being film characters day. Today (Thursday) being bad hat day. The pictures are hilarious and properly sets us up for the right kind of meeting. I think Friday might just be my favourite though as everyone has to turn up as if we are going to a virtual pub, including drink. Just as if we were all heading to the pub after work on a Friday.

If you want to know how Microsoft Teams can help you collaborate with your clients and internal teams, follow the links at the bottom to get in touch.

Steve