Running Projects from Home – The New Normal

For many of us, being flexible at work and working from home was an occasional luxury. But since the 23rd of March, for so many people, its become the new normal.

Making this change is a process that may be difficult for those not used to prolonged periods of time away from the office.

Over the course of the lockdown, I have been attending weekly Zoom meetings with PMO Flashmob WFH. The meetings usually have a theme not specific to the lockdown. However, the opening minutes allow participants to discuss experiences of working from home and the challenges they face.

Communication with the Team Remains the Key Challenge

Now that we are in a situation where we are having to rely on online or virtual tools to communicate we are realising how important those little moments of chat around the office really are.

They allow us to keep the team motivated, understand and track performance and make sure the safety and wellbeing of the team remain positive.

So how are others dealing with these issues?

Run Virtual Meetings

Trying to communicate clearly with colleagues and team members over email or messaging alone can be difficult. So, getting together in virtual meetings, whilst potentially challenging in its own way, can certainly be beneficial. It allows multiple people to sit in together and take part as well as providing that much needed social interaction with others.

The main tool I’ve seen being used for this is Zoom. The main selling points of which are the ability to share screens and audio, have the choice of multiple views, live poll, and use annotation for virtual whiteboards. The screen sharing function is the big draw as it also allows you to run other pieces of meeting software to share with those taking part.

Other solutions are available including products such as Microsoft Teams and Miro. Both of these offer you a more in-depth interactive experience and allow you to use whiteboards, sticky notes, mind maps, and more. If you want to see a full demo of these tools then check out Ken Burrell’s video from the WFH sessions.

Don’t Do Too Many Meetings

It’s natural to want to do more meetings than usual to make sure you’re keeping up to date with everyone. However, it is also important to make sure not to overwhelm colleagues with too many meetings.

One of the lockdown stories I have heard is that their boss calls so many meetings they don’t have time to do their actual work. Which of course needs to be the priority.

Finding the line between too many and too few meetings is key.

Not all Communication Needs to be Formal

The communication we have with the rest of the workplace needs to be a mixture of both formal and informal. If the only time we are talking to our colleagues is for work, then we lose out on those important little water-cooler moments, where we used to discuss such things as sport!

So, what are organisations doing to keep the social balance?

Here are some of the best ways I have heard so far:

  • Work Radio Stations.
  • Breakfast Meetings.
  • Virtual Kitchen – Informal group chats that are always open to drop into.
  • Social activities mixed in with meetings e.g. quizzes.

Trying to maintain these social interactions in the workplace can seem like a lot of effort but I think that we are not as conscious about these moments when we are in the office.

These small interactions make a big difference are important in maintaining the wellbeing of your team.

What is your organisation doing to stay connected? Let us know in the comments.

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