Corona Virus has disrupted the lives of millions around the globe. As a first response, many employers including Upsuite have simply asked their employees to work from home. At Upsuite, we hope we can provide work from home tips to companies and teams that are trying to manage during this pandemic, and advice on coworking offices when you are ready to return to the office in the future.
First, you should know that prior to the Corona Virus, Upsuite was predominantly a work from home culture. 60% of our staff is full-time work from home, and the employees who do not work from home full time still work from home one or two days a week. When not at home, our staff is in one of the 2.200 coworking spaces provided by our Operator Partners.
We Thought We Had Work From Home Down.
We were sure that we had the work from home thing down. Many of us have fully fitted home offices. We use Zoom. We use the Google Suite. We use Slack. We are almost completely digital. All of our important documents were based in our home offices. You name it, we have it. We have staff and contractors across three continents and six countries. We got this.
We Quickly Realized We Were Not Prepared for the Next 30 to 85 Days.
Though we are prepared for working from home one or two days a week, and for half of our staff to work from home full time, this is a different time. After completing our own Work From Home Readiness Checklist, we found four opportunities, that have turned into our latest Four Work from Home Tips:
- Support each other to maintain a healthy routine during work from home.
- Small adjustments to our work from home environments can make extended work from home possible.
- Management has an important role in setting norms around the boundaries between work and life.
- Actively caring for each other makes all the difference for relationships between our staff, customers, and partners.
Think your company’s nailed Work From Home?
Tip 1: Support Each Other to Maintain a Healthy Work From Home Routine.
We’ve all done it during work from home days – delayed a shower, not done our hair, decided not to shave, worn sweats. This works perfectly well when working from home one or two days a week. But after three days straight? That is where things start to get weird. WE start to get weird.
So what can we do as coworkers to support each other?
- Use video communications for internal meetings. Though your team will push back, video pushes us to get ready for the day.
- Talk about your experiences! Share just how far you have let yourselves go, and just how you got yourselves back. We are all in this together. And share how it feels to be back to normal. I’ve never appreciated getting fully dressed so much.
- Tell (nice, only semi-judgemental) stories about others! We have all seen people on walks, at the grocery store, or video calls who are bringing out clothes that they would not otherwise have done at any other time in history.
Tip 2: Small Adjustments to Our Work From Home Environments Can Make Extended Work from Home Possible.
Going into this period, we all felt that we could handle working from home. After all, we had all done it. Quickly, here is what we found – we hadn’t given our environment that much thought. After all, it was temporary. For example:
- Some of us only had a second monitor at the office.
- Some of us had no real desk at home.
- Many of us sat at the kitchen table on a dining chair.
- Few of us had lighting that would sustain our energy for eight hours a day.
- Some of us didn’t have the basic power and connectivity we needed to support video.
Are any of these massive changes? No, in fact, our team could improve them week one. But they had not thought about doing so until we talked about it.
Tip 3: Management Has an Important Role in Setting Boundaries Between Work From Home and Life From Home.
During normal operations, management has a relatively small role in helping employees manage their work-life balance. Generally set office hours, ask the team about their workload regularly. I personally have been doing that for the last 22 years as a leader.
What about asking employees if they have stopped at a healthy time, and started at a healthy time? And what about asking employees if they have been outside, at all? Or exercised? Or seen friends?
In a normal office environment, these questions would seem intrusive, potentially too personal, or at a minimum awkward. During this time, from what I can tell, these questions have taken an entirely different meaning: Caring.
By caring, we leaders give teams the permission to set boundaries. Upsuite is a growing, scrappy startup, and previously these boundaries have been hard to set. In today’s Corona Virus Work From Home World, our team has taken them to heart, reporting back that they are taking better care of themselves.
Tip 4: Actively caring for each other makes all the difference for relationships between our staff, customers, and partners.
If this time has taught us anything, it is that we have permission to openly care about each other. Care about each other’s health. Care about each other’s relationships. Care about each others’ spirits.
We’ve also seen our customers and partners struggle, lose staff, lose locations, lose their goals and hopes. I would argue that during these times, we have the permission – and the obligation – to care for the people we do business with as well.
So I would ask:
What can we accomplish if we are free to care for each other?
And, after learning this now, it makes perfect sense that none of this should be limited to Working From Home, or managing through a pandemic. These things all make sense over the long term, and at Upsuite we will take them all forward – even making fun of people on video conference.
We hope that you will share your stories with us on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/company/upsuite/
We also wrote a previous post called “Work From Home Tips: Is Your Company Ready for Extended Work From Home Due to Corona Virus?” You can read that here.