Thinking

Working from home: thriving or surviving?

For many, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home was a “treat”.

For many, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home was a “treat”. A rarity that you looked forward to, a chance to really “get your head down” and focus on a long list of tasks. You often felt a bit guilty logging-on in casual clothes and controlling your own productivity. Now we’ve been “gifted” with a chance to do this on a daily basis. Yet, coupled with global lockdown, instead of appreciating this as a “gift’, most of us  are struggling to work out how to work in these strange & “unprecedented” times (the buzzword of the hour).

I have noticed that everyone around me is reacting differently - yet I can broadly categorise into two schools of thought: those who are “thriving” and those who are surviving”.

The individuals who are “thriving” in isolation are taking this opportunity as a chance to really knuckle down and focus on self-improvement. They are learning new skills, taking on new projects or finishing the novel they have been writing (did you know apparently Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst isolating from the Bubonic plague?). However, there are also others, those who are focused on simply “surviving” this crisis, and it is this bucket of individuals that I find myself in. Let me explain what this means, as I appreciate this sounds a bit morbid. It means accepting that this is a very strange scenario we find ourselves in and focusing on removing the pressure to do anything more than take each day as it comes. I am told by my more ‘driven’ friends that their new goals help them maintain focus and positivity, yet I find myself more content by not pushing myself to over-work and by appreciating video games/reading as an acceptable outlet (If I wasn’t pressuring myself to do this over a month ago, why should I now?).

After contemplating and reflecting on whether one of these responses is ‘better’ than the other, I’ve ultimately come to the realisation that there is no “right way” to be reacting to the situation. We all need to be appreciative of everyone's individual circumstances and experiences. At Clarasys, we are working hard to support both parties, through the following initiatives and ways of working:

  • Learning opportunities - We may or may not have coined the term “Coronaskill”, where people are using their time for self-development. Colleagues are sharing stories of what they are using this additional time at home - even if it’s not directly work related. It helps us stay connected, keep our minds healthy - so it is interesting to see who is beginning to code, studying user experience, or learning to juggle. I personally feel happy that, knowing should my situation change, there is a good set of resources for self improvement available.
  • Trust - As we have all now moved to working from home, I see a lot of companies starting to implement almost “big brother” style measures. I’ve heard horror stories of micromanagement - checking in every few hours to demonstrate what you have accomplished in the past period. We have taken a simple approach to this. At Clarasys, we didn’t micromanage before the lockdown, so we are not going to do it now. Personally, I am finding this the most important. Having always felt marginally guilty working from home, I am appreciative that I can continue to deliver a high quality of work at my own pace. Besides, those of us pining for the productivity they had in the office are ignoring those “water-cooler” moments which we let distract ourselves.
  • Flexibility - Working parents are one of the hardest hit groups in this crisis. Juggling childcare, teaching & work cannot be easy, so Clarasys is doing its best to accommodate this. We have set up chat groups for them, as well as allowing flexible hours to help them be a parent first, and a Clarasys employee second. As nothing more than a pet owner myself, I appreciate seeing colleagues manage their day around their commitments and others working to accommodate them so effortlessly.

In summary, no one really knows how to react in this situation and everyone at Clarasys has recognised this. I feel very grateful that, even though remote, we have done our best to make it feel like nothing has really changed within Clarasys and, if anything, our company values have been tested and proven stronger than ever.

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