Two new things we have learnt about remote working

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We’ve been digital nomads for decades, but the past couple of months has escalated our combined experience exponentially.  It would be great to hear from you about what you’ve learnt, but here are two things that we’ve discovered working with a range of our clients.  

People may be spending too much time on online conferencing!

There seems to be a new overload for many people.  It’s always been too much email, but now people are talking about too much conferencing.  It’s eating into peoples work time and adding to the probability of stretching the working day at either or both ends.  Sensible teams are agreeing limits for themselves, but others are drowning in them.  

Digging a little deeper, it seems that poor conferencing behaviour is slowing things down.  Like allowing a few to dominate, limiting the collaboration rather than helping it.  We are recommending that online conferencing needs ‘super good’ facilitation skills, they also seem to benefit significantly from an independent chairperson.  

It’s too easy for a chair who has a stake in the outcome, to bias the conference rather than focusing on inclusion and collaboration.  We are hearing a lot of people airing this type of frustration.  Quieter people are metaphorically being pushed to the back of the room.  

A single place of work is helping people cope with the division of life. 

On a more positive note, some best practice is emerging in regard to remote worker wellbeing.  Many of us are used to and comfortable with the division of work and home, that of course has been utterly destroyed in recent weeks!  Normally we might expect to have the commute as a cool down period, our unwind that helps us transverse these two worlds that we inhabit.  Now, we might be working one minute and then find ourselves dealing with a domestic crisis the next!  This is stressful and most of the time pretty uncomfortable.  It can easily lead to a range of frustrations, disappointments, embarrassments and more.  

So what can we do about it?  Well, one emerging practice that can help is the creation of a single place of work in the home.  Now don’t get this out of proportion, this doesn’t need a  £15k cabin in the garden.  It can in fact be the corner of the kitchen table, but the point is, it’s always that corner.  We create a place that is work and treat it as if it’s only work.  When you sit there you are in work mode, therefore to deal with anything other than work you step away from that place.  

It seems that adopters of this practice are finding it easier to segregate work and home.  It’s no less dynamic; you might be working away one minute and then need to deal with a domestic crisis the next, but the point is, you literally get up and step away from the corner of the kitchen table to deal with the domestic.  You and others in the property increasingly understand the division, and it helps the mind to cope with the interchange between these two worlds.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain