Rebecca Mapp | Office Operations Manager | Worktribe

In this blog, Rebecca from Worktribe shares her own experience of the ups and down of the last nine months, and distills a couple of simple but useful tips from seasoned home-office workers in her team.

When the first wave of news of the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there was an initial sense of cautious optimism, the feeling that it just might not happen to us in the UK. However, as the virus rapidly began to spread across Europe, like any organisation, our priority became to protect our staff and our clients. We took a pre-emptive decision to send all our staff to work from home on the 12th of March and to move all client meetings online. This was followed, a week later by the government announcement of a UK-wide lockdown.

We were highly fortunate that as a cloud-based SaaS provider, we could move seamlessly to working from home, with very little disturbance to business as usual.

The WFH honeymoon

The initial first few weeks of working from home felt somewhat like ‘survival mode’ and the novelty and flexibility of working from home felt fresh and exciting (and the extra 30 minute morning lie-in didn’t hurt either!)

I was enjoying the quiet space to think and plan and I felt more productive than ever. I established a new routine of getting up at a certain time and running at lunch, and using my free time to return to my creative roots (anyone for badly-done macrame?). I also started a Friday team Slack quiz at work to help lift people’s spirits and help everyone to feel more connected

However, a few months later, when the novelty of home working had worn off, the reality of the personal impact of working from home and the seemingly never-ending nature of the pandemic became more confronting.

Darker days…

As the bright days of summer passed and devolved into darker and longer days, the opportunities to get outside seemed to diminish, along with the feeling of separation between work and home.

I began to miss having my colleagues around me. As a close knit team, there was a lot to love about being in the office; going for lunch together, the sense of belonging and the opportunities for collaboration and creativity.

The pandemic also had a big impact on my role as pre-covid, I was heavily involved in event organisation, booking staff travel and managing the office, all of which had been paused due to the pandemic.

Although I still had plenty to keep me occupied and was being well supported by my manager, I began to feel disconnected. My weekly motivation to keep others afloat became more difficult when I, myself, was feeling so isolated.

Finding acceptance

The turning point came when I accepted that the pandemic wasn’t going to go away any time soon and I realised that in order to adapt, I was going to have to overcome the sense that this state of remote working was temporary, and build a routine that worked for me.

I decided to ask some of our team members (who have been working remotely long before the pandemic) if they had any tips, so here they are.

Tips for remote working from the team:

1. Start every day with a to-do list

Having a to-do list and splitting the tasks up throughout the day helps Mat (Implementation Consultant) ensure his day is varied.

“It helps me break the day up, and ticking things off a list is also a simple way of getting a sense of achievement.”

2. Make time for water cooler moments

Dom (Head of Implementation at Worktribe) says it’s important to make time for the ‘water cooler’ moments.

“When you’re working remotely, it’s so easy to focus on work and have meetings where you just talk work, then you leave the meetings and do more work. That gives no time to get to know people or to find out something really useful (like you would at the water cooler in an office). So do call someone just to see how they are. Do take the time before or after a meet to see how someone is.”

3. Give yourself permission to be rubbish some days

This one comes from Lucy (Head of Marketing).

“Ok, I might have stolen this one from Hugh Jones and his excellent session at AUA Autumn Conference this year, but it really resonated with me. Life can be complicated and stressful, especially during a pandemic. I’m sure most of us have experienced the feeling of guilt at the end of what we’ve judged as a rather unproductive day at some point because we haven’t been “busy” all day. And some of us might have worked late one evening just to make ourselves feel better. But it is important to not beat ourselves up about this, and realise that some days are going to be more productive than others.”

4. Set an alarm at 5pm

Our Account Manager Jon swears by his daily 5pm alarm, which helps him create a sense of separation between work and home.

“It is important to set clear boundaries between work and home life, otherwise your family eats without you and are in bed asleep by the time you close your laptop. Also, you’re unlikely to “clear off all of your emails” during the extra time, they’ll still be waiting, like an expectant dog waiting for its walk, when you log on the following morning. Just greet them with a fresh head. Sometimes there will be deadlines to hit and working a little later is ok – but make these times the exception rather than the rule”

5. Talk about how you are feeling (or ask others!)

And finally, a tip from me: Working as a qualified counsellor in the evenings, I’m aware of the significant impact something like a pandemic has on mental health. The uncertainty, the job losses and financial problems, and of course the loss of loved ones, are just some of the difficult things that people are faced with.

If you are feeling lost, down or worried, then just make sure you talk to someone – whether it be a friend, family member or co-worker, doctor or counsellor. You are not alone and there are plenty of people who are ready to listen.

And if you are doing ok, why not simply ask someone else how they are feeling?

Worktribe kindly sponsored the AUA Autumn Conference 2020.

With over 180,000 users at leading universities across the UK, Worktribe is the ultimate platform for research and curriculum management. Worktribe’s evolving, cloud-based software transforms higher education administration through better collaboration, more efficiency and more transparency. It’s intuitive, secure and easy to integrate.

Join the 38 universities who stand by Workribe’s approach of “configuration not customisation” and work together to make sure that your software empowers higher education teams now, and in the future. You can find more information about the organisation on the Worktribe website.