The impact of the COVID-19 emergency represents a challenge for all organisations, leaders and employees. Our life inside and outside of work are merging and overlapping far beyond what many of us have experienced before.
Working from home, often in isolation, channelling all collaboration and communication activities into digital tools, can make us feel unprepared or worried. Remaining productive in the current circumstances boils down to three essential elements: we need to stay engaged, stay active, and stay connected.
1. Stay engaged
On a personal level, we need to establish strong foundations to work productively – physically and virtually. We need routine, a distinct workplace environment, and access to the required equipment and technology.
If possible, aim for a space with minimal distractions and disruptions; where your equipment and materials can remain undisturbed, even if you shift locations during the day. This can be challenging with others home as well during this time. Set boundaries or have clear intentions about work time and home time to avoid burnout or being “always on”.
2. Stay active
To maintain a healthy body and mind, we must be creative in ways to look after our fitness and wellbeing, while respecting social distancing constraints.
It may seem obvious, but it’s very easy to neglect your health in times of crisis, so the fundamentals are as important as ever. Make sure that you get enough sleep. Make sure you eat regularly and choose healthy food options. Remember to drink enough water throughout the day and move regularly. These self-care strategies, among others, are paramount to staying fully engaged and connected at work.
3. Stay connected
Among our teams, we need to embrace our new virtual working world. Collaborating and communicating online is now the norm, and there are tools and techniques to guide us. Running great virtual meetings is now a business priority. We all need to effectively engage our teams and stakeholders, as you would when running normal face-to-face meetings. To enhance the emotional intelligence available to us when online, we should use video whenever possible. And don’t be afraid to tackle tough issues. It may seem natural to wait to discuss tough issues until everyone is in person, but that may not be an option. So, don’t shy away from controversial topics.
We need to be aware of some additional behaviours that will enable us to run great virtual meetings. The name of the game is to overcommunicate – using all channels available to feel connected, while remaining efficient and productive with your available time. However, we can easily be guilty of clogging each other’s diaries with back-to-back meetings. Scheduling meetings for 25:5-minute cycles can free up time for breaks and preparation. However, before scheduling a meeting, you should ask yourself, “Is a meeting necessary?”; “Would an email suffice?”; or “Can I pick up the phone and call directly?”.
Working remotely also poses an opportunity to rethink how we measure productivity. As teams are not physically working together, we need to demonstrate the value we are adding in new and creative ways. By using a ‘Daily Value Log’, aligned with agile principles (a project management approach), we can show that working from home can enable us to be more productive. As with holding daily stand-ups when running an agile project, a Daily Value Log is split across three areas:
- What did you do today?
- What are you doing tomorrow?
- Do you have any blockers?
On a weekly basis, teams can consolidate their individual Daily Value Logs and show that we are able to add more value when working from home. No commuting, more flexible working hours and less down time allows many teams and individuals to be more productive.
When managing projects, collaborative workshops have been traditionally run in large meeting rooms, conference rooms, or external facilities. We still need to meet as project teams to align and agree when progressing to new project phases. There are several critical project and programme milestones, typically at the beginning or end of phases, that require the presence and input from stakeholders. These traditionally take place with face-to-face sessions, which are not currently possible.
However, collaborative online workshops can work as effectively as face-to-face workshops. Incorporating principles of agile and design thinking, projects and programmes can use collaborative technology to host workshops, align stakeholders and make decisions and still deliver outcomes and benefits.
As Head of EY wavespace™ Ireland, my team and I have been running interactive virtual sessions to bring together the right people from around the world. Talent in your organisation and across EY can convene virtually, using our proven approach for developing solutions, faster. Our wavespace team leverages the best technology collaboration tools, as well as the proven approach that accomplishes maximum results — in a virtual environment.
Eventually, we will be able to return to our physical office spaces. However, we will return as much stronger online citizens and more effective collaborators. This crisis is an opportunity for us to shake old habits and instil more productive behaviour patter.
To find out more about what we can do at wavespace™ Ireland, get in touch.