The Isolation Life

12 June 2020

As the office emptied at the end of the day on 23rd March, we were left wondering what was going to happen next. For a leader whose team share an office daily, the new lockdown rules presented a host of challenges and questions from “How can I lead effectively when my team are greeting each other with instant messages rather than handshakes?” to hosting meetings via Teams rather than face to face.

Clear goals needed to be established in order to manage workflow and communication was now key. While communication was and will always be essential, it’s become paramount when working remotely, not only in terms of documenting business decisions and workflow but also to reach out to the people you’re communicating with.

It’s easy to assume because you’re personally working in an environment which may be comfortable and enjoyable, for others it may be the complete opposite, so this has been permanently at the forefront of my mind. I’ve spent a lot of the time still in the office regardless, as I needed the transitional buffer between my home related identity and my work related identity.

During the working week, as one team we’re finding ways to stay in touch and boost morale. Stephen set up a Huntingdon team quiz which we all enjoyed, Claire’s cat even joined us. I created a Friday teams meeting at 4.30pm called the ‘Friday download’, which was a less structured team meeting with optional attendance, where we could share our weeks and touch base with each other.

While we’ve evolved with technology, we haven’t yet evolved socially or even neurologically. So much of our wellbeing and by extension what makes us productive, is predicated on physical proximity. One surprising casualty of social distancing is in fact laughter. Think about it, the majority of the time we’re laughing is with others, we’re 30 times more likely to laugh with others then to laugh alone. When was the last time you had a funny thought alone and laughed out loud? Compare that to how often you laugh with your friends or colleagues at something. The office banter is something I certainly missed. Stephen however, has certainly helped on that front and entertained us all and kept the laughter flowing even via the screen by his weekly outfits and background choices. I think I can vouch for the team when I say it gave us all a much needed boost.