Physically distanced yet socially connected at work — how is this possible?
Are you working from home during this Covid-19 period? Do you find it challenging or unproductive at times? I totally understand — which is why I’ve compiled these challenges, tips to stay connected with your team, and learnings for sharing.
A month ago, Carousell’s CEO Siu Rui announced that for the safety and welfare of all staff in the Singapore office, everyone would be working from home indefinitely.
Way back in mid February, when I first heard about the plans of teams alternating between working from home and office due to the Covid-19 situation, the first thought that flashed across my mind — Aw man, this is going to be challenging! What more a full fledge work from home routine.
Indeed, it was challenging.
The cycle repeats itself…
I lugged home my desktop monitor to mirror what the setup was like in office to make myself my body and mind feel like I’m at office.
Every morning, I would wake up a tad later because I didn’t have to travel to office. I would then change out of my PJs (but not to formal work attire of course) to mimic the “every-morning-changing-clothes” routine I did when I went to work physically. Next, I would proceed with making myself a hot cup of milo to start off the day while standing at my kitchen window, admiring the view. Mmmm so good.
That sounds pretty okay still right? But I haven’t got started yet. Here’s a list of what I faced.
⏰ First wfh challenge: lunchtime. It went from “Where shall we go for lunch?” to “What should I cook or buy today?” Thinking about what to cook/eat with myself was tough. An extroverted self like me would love to spend time with different colleagues in the company and exploring new food options together. When it came to wfh moments, I struggled to bring myself out to buy takeout food or whip up food for just myself. Some days, I would give lunch a miss and munch on biscuits. Oops.
💼 Second wfh challenge: meetings. It went from “Which room is this meeting held at? Is it meeting room A or B?” to “I’m here (online)”. It was also tough trying to have my ears listen intently while my eyes switching from one Profile Picture to another on Google Hangouts. I guess most people are shy to turn on their cameras — I unknowingly became distracted. I turned to look for tips in our very own #wfh-protips Slack channel and tried to be more productive.
“After all, I was in the same physical space everyday.”
⌛ Third wfh challenge: knowing when to fully stop working. Oh, it’s 7pm already. It went from “Yay! Time to meet my friends!” to “Ops is it already 9pm?! I haven’t finish this…” Time passes by more quickly each day because the line between work and rest becomes blur. After all, I’m in the same physical space everyday. Wake up, work, eat, work, eat and sleep. I kind of lost track of time after awhile. As such, I had to put in a lot of more effort to stop doing work (or being online on Slack) and learn how to rest fully.
Looking back a month later — I’m glad that my team made constant effort to stay connected despite the physical distancing measures in place.
Make “work from home” work for you 🏠
Here are three simple ideas that you can bring back to your team!
1. Have weekly fun WFH short syncs
Thanks to my bosses, we arrange two fun syncs per week to share very random things — from how Circuit Breaker is affecting us, to our sleeping patterns, to our activities on weekends. These morning syncs help me feel less lonely even though I am alone physically. I’m thankful for these short moments of bare morning faces, wide smiles, and unkempt hairs.
2. Make time for fun huddles with your teammates
Some game ideas include: Scribbly.io or Codenames online. I introduced Scribbly to my team and we sure had loads of fun together laughing over very horrendous drawings or being in awe of our hidden artists. Agenda-less meeting was kind of a first for me. Cheers to Hangouts Grid view too!
Or… HouseParty-ing with colleagues 🥳
3. Join company-wide online bonding activities
As part of an initiative to encourage fitness in the company, Wellness Wednesdays was formed where we exercise together. I joined one of the HIIT Wellness Wednesday sessions and I was amazed at how everyone was attempting to keep fit together. It was kinda cute and heartwarming :”) Helping to flatten the curve doesn’t mean you’ve gotten fatten those curves! Shout out to People’s team for organising these activities.
Despite all the challenges with being physically distanced, this period of Circuit Breaker has taught me a few things summarised altogether:
“Don’t miss the window to make permanent changes in a temporary situation.”
- This is the best period to be the change you want to be and change the things that you want to see. There is no better period than this. Inspired by Pastor How from HOGC: “Don’t miss the window to make permanent changes in a temporary situation.” Word.
- You can be positive and find opportunities in a crisis. Your mind determines your actions. With a mind full of possibilities, it changes what we see and what we seek. There were so many initiatives that were sparked off due to this Covid-19 situation by the company. It’s inspiring to see everyone hustling doubly hard when the world seems to be slowing down.
- Loving, caring or looking out for one another shouldn’t be out of convenience. It requires a lot of effort to stay connected as a team and it doesn’t happen by mere chance. Making the team feel connected is a lot more intentional we think. When the Circuit Breaker is over, I hope that I will continue to put the same effort in staying connected to my teammates and cherish these memories together (especially those abroad).
Six more weeks to go and I’m certainly looking forward to the end of this! While we have somewhat lost our freedom this period and everything seems to hit rock bottom for us mentally, do know that there’s only one place left to go — up! Stay strong everyone and I encourage you to journey with me this period to make things work in our workplace. Fight on! This too shall pass.