Balancing Life Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak
The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting all of us in different ways and everybody’s personal situation is different. However, the one commonality is that many of us have had to adapt our way of working to suit the needs of both our personal lives and the demands of our jobs; whether we’re key workers on the front line, home working full time or just popping into work with reduced hours.
In this article, we speak to people across our group of businesses to find out how they worked before the pandemic, how they have had to adapt their way of working and the impact it’s having on their day-to-day.
Jason Downes – Managing Director at Modality
“In the space we work in, it’s no surprise that I have for many years worked and led businesses who operate successfully with a high degree of flexibility and remote working. But wow, 100% forced to work from home is a big shift!
“Since we all started working from home, we’ve been extremely busy helping businesses get increased value from their Microsoft solutions, with Microsoft Teams, in particular, accelerating at an incredible pace. We are full-on and I’m very proud of how productive our teams are. The pace and quality of work being produced is exceptional.
“It’s refreshing to see our employees maintaining good communication with each other too - people have introduced virtual team beers and virtual coffee mornings etc, as well as continuing to share good news and useful tips via Yammer. In addition, our customer engagement has been excellent, again using Teams. By now, we’re all well practised at providing presentations, demonstrations and onboarding via our technology rather than in-person.
“Thinking about how my day-to-day has changed, I’m always an early riser so I tend to do some work from 5 am until my baby boy wakes (1 year) at around 6.30 am. I then give him his bottle before his two sisters (6 & 4) come down soon after. Once they’ve had breakfast, it’s a quick hello to my wife before I take the short walk into my garden to my converted office that’s part of our garage.
“I do try (but sadly often fail) to help with homeschooling for a short period during mid-morning, as homeschooling is full-on in our house. I block this time out in my diary to let others know that I’m not available, then it’s back to work before a quick lunch with the family. After this, I’ll jump back onto calls, ideally finishing to help out with bath and bedtime, followed by a quick bite to eat and then some more work which often involves calls with our international colleagues and customers.
“Throughout the pandemic thus far, I’ve incorporated much more flexibility into my working day with earlier starts and later finishes to ensure I play an active role whilst the children are also in lockdown.”
Charlie Tobulevicius – Marketing Executive at Nasstar
“Before Coronavirus, I was working in the office full time with occasional work from home days. However, I’m also 6 months pregnant and so when pregnant women were declared as high risk in March, the decision was made that I would work from home indefinitely.
“I am very lucky in that I’ve had a low-risk pregnancy thus far and it has not had a huge impact on my working life, but with Covid-19 thrown into the mix, I am having to adapt my activities slightly. In terms of working, I’m trying to maintain as much routine as I can by getting up at my usual time, getting dressed and making sure I’m at my dining-room desk by 9 am. My desk isn’t the standing desk I had in the office so I’m having to get up and move around a little more often, but that’s not a huge problem, in fact, it’s probably a good thing!
“Change has also happened outside of work; I only leave the house for a walk with the dog and the pregnancy Pilates class I attended once a week is now being held virtually over Zoom. My pregnancy isn’t quite how I pictured it; not being able to mooch around the shops for cute baby items or make sure we get the nursery colours just right isn’t ideal but it’s a needs must situation that we’ve had to adapt to. Thank goodness for online shopping!
“I feel like Coronavirus is going to show organisations that working from home is a great solution for the modern workplace and since we all have the technology to implement it at our disposal, why not carry it on after the pandemic is over?”
Alison French - HR Manager at Modality
“My role was primarily office-based before the pandemic started, with plenty of interaction with my colleagues in the office, however, I did have the benefit of being able to work from home if needed. In ordinary circumstances, I like to meet new starters face-to-face for their inductions and enjoy the atmosphere of being in the office.
“My “new office” is my dining room table with one instead of 2 monitors and a dining room chair which isn’t designed for all-day sitting but encourages me to get up and move from time to time. In the office I’m not a keen user of video calls, however, to keep in touch with people, I have embraced using video. I’ve conducted a couple of remote HR inductions and I’m more likely to call people rather than message just to keep a ‘human’ connection with people.
“I am more fortunate than many of my colleagues who are trying to juggle working with homeschooling their children; mine are grown up so I am not facing that challenge thankfully! I know some people are flexing their hours to accommodate children at home, but I’m maintaining my normal working hours and trying to avoid the new office environment (AKA the dining room) after hours. If I don’t, there is a temptation to not ‘switch off and be constantly online. I think I am equally as productive at home as I have access to all systems that I need; my workload has been constantly high and essentially, life is continuing just in a slightly changed world to which we’re all adapting. In a bid to keep in contact with people at the office, I’ve set up a virtual coffee morning each day which have been great; there are only 2 rules - no work chat and no coronavirus chat, which effectively means we have been talking about food, drink and what to watch on TV!”
Jonathon Poole – Head of Account Management at Nasstar
“Pre Covid-19, my general working week had a lot of variety. My week consisted of an average of 2-3 days travelling to see customers or different members of my team, with 1 or 2 days at home and 1 or 2 days in the office. I would spend anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours travelling each way.
“Under lockdown, there is definitely a change in my routine and my day is now full of video calls with my team and customers. I’m having more regular calls with each team member, sometimes 1-2 times a day, to check in on the progress of deals or initiatives to help support our customers. From a customer perspective, I’m having more video calls to progress key initiatives. This has resulted in more frequent and focused engagement and stronger relationships.
“I’m finding that the key to balancing my day-to-day is ensuring that I keep as ‘normal’ a routine as possible. I still get up and take the dog for a walk, before coming home for a HIIT workout to keep up the motivation, which then translates into productivity. With the ‘additional time’ I now have without travelling, I’m able to have a more even spread when it comes to managing my team and working with customers on strategic engagements for requirements that have evolved due to Coronavirus, or on future requirements that have come to light due to the business changes, they expect post-pandemic. The lack of travel also offers me more flexibility to manage the work/life balance as my wife and I juggle ‘homeschooling 2 young children, whilst both working full time.”
Zale Wood – Head of Corporate Sales at Nasstar
“I look after the internal sales team at Nasstar, with myself and 5 out of the 6 internal account managers working out of our Derby office. Before the Coronavirus outbreak, the team’s collective role had been focussed around being desk-based so that they were always on hand to take customer calls and pick up emails, as opposed to being out on the road.
“With the pandemic, me and the whole team are now working from home which has been a big change from the norm. To keep structure, each morning we have a virtual meeting and a wider sales video call which we call ‘FIKA’ (a 15-minute chat at 9 am) to ensure all staff are communicating with one another. We’re working exactly as we were in the office, being on-hand for customers, calling out to customers and continuing with our usual meetings over Microsoft Teams.
“The impact of this change has definitely not been a hindrance to the day-to-day operations. If anything, it’s helped me and the team to speak to other areas of the business more – I don’t seem to come off the phone all day! I never really worked from home prior to Covid-19, however, when normality hits us again, I think I’ll definitely take the opportunity to work from home more often!”
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused great loss, sadness, and fear for many reasons, but what is clear is that we’re all in this together (abiding by the 2 metres social distancing!) Everyone in our business has had to adapt in one way or another, and as an organisation, we have become more flexible to accommodate this. We have pulled together and are communicating and checking in on each other more than ever.
Covid-19 will fundamentally change the way people live, work, and communicate moving forward. We’ll go and see our relatives regularly, play in the garden with the kids more often or even just stop and breathe and appreciate what we have. If a global pandemic can teach us anything, it is that we are capable of significant change - and that’s not always a bad thing.