Moving Forward

Adjusting to a Remote Reality

For many of us –waking up in a COVID-19 world is like something we’ve never experienced before. For some of us –it’s like a regular day at the office. While many of our friends and family members do not normally have the option to work from home (#wfh), for me personally, it’s something I’m used to doing most days I’m not heading to the airport. Wake up, put the coffee on, shower and get dressed (at least from the waist up) and go to work, a 10-step walk on most days.


So, what do you do when it feels like nothing has really changed?


Even though nothing has really changed in the way we start our day as distributed workers, it’s very possible that our environment has changed, and the people we typically work with are now living in a similar remote world. We have the opportunity to help others, while at the same time adapting ourselves.


First, STOP working the way you always do:
• Take breaks–As distributed #wfh team members we’re used to being “available” all the time. We need to take mental breaks to deal with our new co-workers (children, roommates, or partners), as well as just check in with ourselves. That may mean a walk or a nap you don’t normally take, watching cat videos, or whatever helps you as an individual. Even the type-As out there need to break things up. Tuesday’s lunch with my co-working buddy, my 13-year old daughter Kat, was pretty incredible.
• Speaking of your new co-workers –It’s probably a good idea to create a working agreement for your new office mates and your distributed team. Where will you each work, what time of day are you each most productive, will you ALWAYS eat lunch together? Think of this as your new 1st Team and remember the co-worker at your regular office that did that thing that really got on your nerves –that’s going to happen in your new office, too. 😊 However, you can actually ask your 6-year-old to chew more quietly while eating at his desk. And those co-workers who spend too much time goofing around –you need to come to agreeable working terms with them.My friend has a new co-worker that just isn’t getting the hint.
Tips from the pros:
We work with a provider of web-browsers and tools, with team members all over the world. On their first day every team member was officially working from home, theyheld an All Hands and encouraged their team members to bring their new office mates. The experience of seeing 500+ faces streaming over video for a vulnerable and honest conversation with their chairwoman was what we hope to find in a true servant leader.
Here’s another pro-tip from the same client -create your COVID-19 Plan together. If you already have a working agreement review it and make contingency plans for each role. Doing this before it’s necessary will help you feel more prepared.


Second, HELP those who don’t know how to or don’t have the option to work remote.
• Pay it forward –While most professional occupations can move to work from home, there are many occupations that just cannot. Food servers, beauticians, masseuse are just a few.
o Check in with your friends who may have lost their primary focus
o Spend money locally where you can
o Grab a virtual coffee with them –in the middle of the day


• Teach others–While we never thought simply “going to work” was something we could teach another person; it turns out we were wrong. As distributed workers, we have a skill set that’s prepared us, at least work wise, for dealing with this rapid adaption.
o Share wfh tips via social channels
o Reach out to new #remoteworkers to check in
o Don’t be too excited about being a “pro”


• Coach others-If you’ve had the benefit of working remotely before you may need to guide others in this transition and share your experiences. This may include:
o Helping them modify their existing team working agreement
o Encouraging video usage –even when it’s not a good hair day
Remember, the more things change the more they stay the same. Organizations still have business objectives. Customers still expect services to be provided. Some team members will still be workaholics. Some team members will need a nap in the middle of the day to deal with the deluge of information. We will continue to consistently need to communicate openly and with more clarity than ever –building new muscles as a #team.