Wed 01 / 04 / 20
One week in – The Chamber remote working experience so far
Like many of you, we’re adjusting to a new way of working at the Chamber. We’re all working from home and running the Chamber and our virtual learning and networking events from Brighton, Hove and even Suffolk!
Not only have we had to leave our office and say our goodbyes to each other but we’ve also made some changes to what we offer so that we can help members during this difficult time. It’s been a steep learning curve but one that has been helped by offers of support and opportunities to do things differently.
One week in we’ve had a chance to reflect on our experience. Here is what we’ve been up to, and what we’ve learnt, so far.
Bee Nicholls – Operations Manager
As a sociable introvert (but an introvert none the less), I haven’t found working from home so bad.
I have continued my normal routine of shower, clothes (no PJs over here) and breakfast at the usual time I'd get up for work and I have so far managed a quick bit of exercise in the house before logging on to my laptop at 9, which really helps me wake up. I am being stubbornly optimistic and doing whatever I can to stay positive, so for me that involves great music, lots of vegan snacks and a good lunch break in the sun.
I am very lucky to have a garden and it needs a good sorting out, so I will be out there working on it at the weekend to make it a nice haven for me and my housemates. I also love to paint, draw and sew, so I have a few projects on the go which I am dipping into in the evenings when I feel like it.
I am also making full use of my daily exercise allowance by catching the sunset at the racecourse behind my house!
My top tips for navigating this time:
- Limit exposure to the news - check in once a day at the most, there's no need to check in more often.
- Make sure you talk about stuff that isn't related to Covid-19. We will get through this and taking care of our mental health is imperative to that.
Laura – Events Manager
I spent my first week at home upskilling and getting to grips with Zoom – our chosen platform for this new world of video chat.
After identifying the right plan for our needs, I spent a lot of time playing around and learning what we could/couldn’t do as a host or attendee. The team were my guinea pigs and I learnt a lot. One prime example of what NOT to do is leave your your CEO in the virtual waiting room on a team video call!
I’ve also helped the team become (varying degrees of) Zoom wizards! We now have daily team chats and run several events on Zoom. Though there is definitely more that we can do and will be offering through the platform, I’m proud of what we have managed to achieve in our first week of home working, including setting up our Virtual Bite-sized Learning programme. See what we have coming up in April on our website.
Here are my top three Zooming tips:
- Don’t assume people know what they are doing / how to use it.
- If you are going to run a video chat with more then three people, have a trial run!
- Click around; Zoom has lots of gadgets and tools for you to use, from on-screen Thumbs up to letting people know you are on a tea break. The more you understand it, the more useful it will become.
Amy Lishman – Head of Member Engagement
It’s been frustrating not being out and about in Brighton, meeting people and making connections but I have still managed to connect with lots of members over the past week at the Virtual Meet-ups, on the phone, on skype. Keeping these connections and conversations going is incredibly helpful but also a brilliant boost for morale. I think being connected with others and keeping in touch has never been more important.
One of the highlights of my first week at home was daily lunch with my cat, Scampi, in the garden. He’s enjoying the company too. Thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) Scampi has made only one appearance on a video call so far…
The biggest challenge has been not being able to casually chat and joke with the team. But we have a great Whatsapp group and we’re trying to make our daily check-ins fun and light-hearted.
What I learnt this week:
- Boundaries are important – physical boundaries such as having a space to work that is separate to living space (if you can) and also creating mental barriers such as turning off notifications from your phone and doing exercise regularly and frequently to switch off.
- It’s good to set yourself up well for the day and also create a new routine. I have started doing something enjoyable and relaxing to start the day like have a cup of tea in the garden or read some of my book so that I create a boundary between home and work.
- Zoom calls are not the be all and end all! They work well, but if you’re not careful, they can monopolise your day and tire you out. To combat this fatigue I’ve created offline time for myself at various intervals in the day and also I’m picking up the phone. Phone calls are less tiring than intensely staring at a screen and just as good.
Sarah Springford – Chief Executive
I’ve been going on morning bike rides, which has been taking me back to the 70s! The empty streets and absence of bustling coffee shops on every corner remind me of a time before the word barista was even invented.
I came back from a holiday in the States two weeks ago (just in time) and went straight into making preparations for what was increasingly looking like an inevitable lockdown. Like many businesses, we needed to move our services entirely online and prepare to work remotely. As concerned as I am about the situation, it’s also an opportunity for us to learn to deliver our services in a different way and to offer new ways of engaging our members.
I really value being able to see and connect with the team in our daily catch-ups. I recommend making time for regular check-ins to help give your team a sense of belonging and feel part of something bigger.
Matilda Sjöberg – Membership & Marketing Executive
I managed to escape the city and am enjoying a rather idyllic lockdown in Suffolk. Being able to step outside for fresh air between tasks and meetings works wonders for re-charging, as does bouncing around on a pilates ball (which is why you may find me struggling to sit still in video calls…). Setting boundaries between work and home time has been the biggest challenge, as well as missing regular interactions with the team and members.
My WFH tips:
- Call and video chats don’t need to be formal. A quick 2 min video call with a colleague to soundcheck an idea or share some information, brings such a comforting sense of normality to my day. Thinking (and laughing) out loud, as I would in the office with the team, helps me feel sane too.
- Regular breaks between focus sessions are more important than ever. Leave your screen and workspace to stretch your legs, breathe and drink water. If you need help forcing this habit, Pomodoro timer (an old uni favourite) can really help.
- Have something to look forward to at the end of the day. Without the commute home, it’s easy to keep working or to leave your computer on and to not switch off. We’ve introduced a daily “happy hour” (not necessarily alcoholic) at 5.30, which helps me transition from work and be present at home.
So there you have it. Our experience and what we’ve learnt so far on this remote working journey. Does any of this resonate with you? You can share your own top tips for dealing with uncertainty and remote working on the Chamber Slack Channel. Contact Matilda to join.
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