Reflections on Remote Working in Challenging Times

As have many this week I have been working home for the majority of the week and in this strange and slightly terrifying world we now find ourselves in this looks like it will be the norm for the foreseeable future. I have always thought of myself as the Queen of working from home (self – appointed title!) and you can read about some of my thoughts about it on an old blog -  Avoiding the Pitfalls of Working From Home  and for me the past week has led to some reflection of what has worked well and what I might do differently in the coming weeks


  • Use the tools you have – One of the frustrations of working remotely is the lack of face to face contact which is even more challenging in our current circumstances. We have used Skype messaging and a WhatsApp group to chat – not only about work stuff but also how we are feeling about what is going on and share some funny stuff as well. The best thing about it is that there is no pressure to join in and it is a safe space to have conversations that we would normally have face to face. Even if it is about my using a packet to make spaghetti carbonara!




  • Make sure the tools work for your organisation One way or another this week I have been on the receiving end of lots of technology – some that worked really well, some that has worked less well and I intend to blog more about that in the coming weeks. A definition of the word facilitate is to make easy – no-one wants to spend the first 15 mins of an online conference emailing the other participants asking how they got in. It sets you up in the wrong frame of mind before you even start. Check before setting anything up – is it compatible, what are the potential issues and send out clear instructions to all. Best of all find some willing colleagues who have the time and space to practice with you.




  • Don’t forget to schedule to social stuff too – On a Friday we have coffee club and as part of our new routine we have no scheduled a Skype call where we share what we would normally share  - how has the week been, what are our challenges and what we are we doing for the weekend. @AndyLancasterUK shared something similar he is doing with his tea. Although we may not have progress to the dizzy heights on Countdown just making this space for a social chat in our busy days gives us a chance to have that human interaction. To get us started I am going to be sharing some useful questions that were shared on Linked In earlier this week Low Threat Questions for Remote Team Workers


  • Be aware of how your colleagues are really feeling - Earlier this week I read a particularly poignant Twitter post from @nataliemself about crying on a Zoom conference call this week. I suspect the coming week will be even more challenging for many people after a separated Mother’s Day and the fresh challenge of home schooling and working at the same time. Give people the space to be their whole selves and remember it is okay not to be okay. Send virtual hugs, offer a listening ear – whatever works best and be present for your colleagues,


  • Find a routine that works for you – Whatever it is – I like to get up, have a coffee, breakfast, do the ironing and feed the birds and then I log on. Quite often I work in the kitchen as this enables me to look at into the garden – although it can get quite lively out there


  • Remember it is okay to step away– Quite often when we are working from home, we think we need to be answering every email and responding to every Skype message straightaway. In the workplace we wouldn’t necessarily be doing that we would go and make a round of brews; we might be chatting about last night’s TV – the same rules apply at home. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure – life is already challenging enough at present let’s not add anything else into the mix


  • Find space for some learning – One of the things that has been so fab about the last week is the generosity of L&D colleagues to share their time and expertise for free. This week I have attended webinars on Digital Learning (as I know have many others) from @stellacollins @YourLPI @WorldofWork_IO and @DonaldHTaylor this week and I will be blogging about what I have learned soon. In the meantime, thank you to everyone involved – it was a great space to take a breath from the day job, pause and reflect – THANK YOU all.


  • Take some exercise – Again this is one of those whatever works for you things. I personally like a walk (remembering social distancing) and I live in an area which has the opportunity to do so given the current restrictions. In addition, I also have an exercise bike and one of my commitments for next week is to make time for this in my week. As the government have been saying this week exercise really supports mental well-being – and who doesn’t feel better after 30 mins of Spice Girls music! If you need some extra motivation why not support my former colleagues at Compton Care and support their Compton Care Virtual Challenge – I know this will help support an extraordinary organisation in what are extraordinary times. 


Whilst I am here I also wanted to give a massive shout out to those who are working in retail and healthcare at the moment – having worked in both I know how demanding recent events have made your work and you all have my utmost thanks and admiration for everything you are doing at the moment. 


Lastly – let’s all take care of each other and ourselves


Until next time - Helen

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