I’m writing this from sunny South Wales, in my mum and dad’s dining room having just come out of a period of self-isolation in London. Filled with crazy clocks and family photos, my desk area now is very different to tails.com HQ. Like many businesses, remote working started as a ‘trial-run’, and rapidly became the new reality. But, now in our third week, it's (by and large) working, this working from home.
But, in terms of the new look office life, what have we learnt so far?
- We CAN have a video conference for all 200 of us! And, also, we really want to. It's a major highlight in the week to see and hear our team and to feel connected
- I CAN hire people remotely! We’ve moved our recruitment process online which is pretty great news as I’m currently looking for two new team members to join me in product development!
- We all miss office chats and cuddles from the dogs but, we CAN have a social life: our CFO held a virtual pub quiz for 200 (employees and their families/housemates/partners alike) last friday night which was an - er - experience; we’ve got a tails.com lunchtime radio station twice a week for all the tunes and there are loads of smaller ‘drinks and chats’ happening over video calls
- We CAN get the home office set up right and it’s really important to do so - it's not great to be on a makeshift chair/desk setup full time. Logistically challenging but we shipped all the office equipment people needed directly to them at home.
- We CAN continue to support each other remotely. Nothing bonds a team like having to lean on each other in a time of stress. I am so grateful to have the tails team around me
Judging by the reaction from our office dogs to having their owners around 24/7, the dogs are the only winners of this situation. As always, Dylan, my Cavapoo, has been a steady companion (and co-worker) as I journeyed back to Wales to care for my mum and dad. And he’s moonlighted in most of my Zoom calls since…
I’m sure everyone has their own tips and tricks to working from home successfully. At such a time of uncertainty, I’m really grateful that tails have been able to switch the majority of teams to remote working - it means we can continue to support both our colleagues and our customers.
Here’s some things that I’ve been doing to make sure I’m staying motivated and productive:
- Regular breaks: physically moving away from my desk is key - I go and make a cup of tea or I do some stretching to ease tension
- Comms-free time throughout the day, turning off slack and email - they’re both important business tools but overuse can quickly become distracting. Turning them off for an hour or so let’s me focus on the job in hand
- Focusing on one thing at a time. I find that trying to do lots of things at once is stressful and unproductive. Finishing a task brings a sense of achievement and motivates me to move onto the next thing on my to-do list
- Non-work chat with colleagues. Seeing another human face for a conversation keeps me connected and leads to fewer feelings of isolation.
Overall it’s been very unsettling for us all but in many ways we’re lucky at tails.com - we’re comfortable with rapid change. And, the level of communication and support between colleagues and teams has been truly inspiring. The messages of relief and thanks we’re getting from our customers receiving their deliveries means the world to all of us. None of us know what the next few weeks hold for the UK but, I’m glad to be going through it with this team (and the dogs!).