In The Trenches

Let’s not get complacent

Published on June 30, 2020 Back to blog

Working from home/anywhere for the last three months has certainly had its benefits. The 1-minute morning commute. The daily dinners with the family. And, of course, the business boxer-briefs. 

In many ways, we’ve all demonstrated our resiliency and ability to adapt to new environments. However, it’s certainly not perfect. And, with pre-COVID office-life unlikely returning anywhere in the near future (if ever), we must continue to adapt and improve. Otherwise, we may fall victim to complacency, negatively impact our productivity and, worst of all, burn ourselves out. 

So today, I share some thoughts and insights from the last few months, and ask for your ideas on how we can evolve. 

1. Google Docs cannot replace true collaboration – While Google Docs and other team-sharing tools are great for multi-person contribution, they cannot replace real collaboration. Real collaboration requires strong discussion, engagement, listening and debate. If in-person meetings aren’t possible, consider setting up white boards or viewing shared documents during Zoom calls for more impactful engagement. (I’d love to hear other recommendations and suggestions for effective online collaboration.)

2. The office isn’t the only place to meet – Clearly, there are many challenges with meeting in person or getting to our offices. But, just as many of us are finding ways to meet up with friends and family (it’s OK to admit it), we can find ways to do the same with our core colleagues – especially as the weather works in our favor. Socially-distant coffees, walks and park/backyard gatherings all can work.

3. The phone still works – For some reason, the moment we started working from home, every conversation became a video one. And, while it is nice to see people’s faces (and kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, dogs, kids and backyards), it can also be exhausting. A friend recently told me that having your body in one physical location (home) and mind in another one (video call) has been scientifically proven to cause exhaustion. Try the phone every once in a while (also, see #2). 

4. Breaks are required – Recently, I’ve started noticing how much I miss the afternoon commute home, the walks/drives/train rides to meetings, the walks to lunch, etc. Back-to-back Zoom calls barely leave time for a bathroom break, never mind clearing your head and stretching your legs. Consider scheduling :20 or :45 minute meetings (with :10 or :15 breaks between), schedule a walk/exercise during the day, eat breakfast/lunch in a different room, etc. And, take some time off. Working from home is anything but a vacation.

5. It’s OK to mix it up a bit – I’ve found it helpful to mix things up a bit to keep things interesting. Try a different room, work outside, sit at the other side of the desk/kitchen table, adjust your work hours (if possible), etc. While routine is certainly nice (and, for some, needed), it can also get a bit monotonous.

These are just a few of my thoughts on how we can improve our happiness and productivity in this new world. I’d love to hear yours as well. Please share them with me here.

As always, thanks for reading! 

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners