Our team has been working from home for two weeks now and I hate it! Not because sales are down, although they are, and not because I miss having a door I can close (with a 10 and 7-year-old also in the house I miss it desperately!) But mostly because I miss the energy of our team. We don’t always get along, sometimes we irritate and anger each other, but we do really good work together. We drive each other to excellence and share ideas and thoughts that make us all better. The challenge we are now facing is that natural energy that comes organically from our community when we are together feels lost now that we aren’t having lunch together, bumping into each other trying to get into the refrigerator or trying to get to the coffee pot before the last cup goes. How do we prepare ourselves for this?
Now don’t get me wrong, from a technical perspective I am extremely proud of our team. From a technical perspective, we were highly prepared for this Work from Home phase. We have been writing and polishing our Disaster Recovery Plan for over a year now, with a focus on having to work from home for a few days in the case of significant snowfall, so to translate that into COVID-19 social distancing was fairly easy. What has come harder, what we had not prepared for is “how do we maintain our productivity, our creativity and the magic that makes our teamwork?”
I must confess I feel like I should have been more mentally prepared for this as I spent close to 10 years working predominantly from home. So, I have spent some time this last week rethinking what I learned from all that time working from home and what allowed me to do it successfully? The one answer that keeps coming back to me is that I was really really intentional about almost everything and realizing the things I both need and want to happen the most rarely happen organically. Whether we like it or not, Work from Home is likely with us for a few more months. Today, I will share one of the ways I have learned to be intentional in a work from home environment, but I will share more in future posts!
Intentionally Reach Out
I just spent the last two hours on video meetings with peers. Not employees, not team members, not clients – PEERS. Guys who run business just like mine who I have over the last few years built up relationships with and regularly interact with. Let me tell you a secret, NO ONE will ever understand your business and what you as the owner go through physically, mentally, and emotionally like someone else who runs a business just like yours. I’ll let you in on another secret, no one can encourage you more and give more life back to you in a time like this than people who are facing exactly what you are facing. Find those relationships and intentionally pursue and develop them. I spent the last half hour helping another Managed Service Providers implement some new security software to improve the protection of their client base. I didn’t charge him a penny, but the energy I got from giving back is priceless. I feel somewhat invigorated and renewed! When I worked from home I had developed regular cadences of interactions with key team members, peers, and clients. With each I made sure I spent time not just talking about the task at hand, but how were they as a person, how is their business doing, how are their other projects going. We have the conversations naturally in person, we must be intentional about creating them when working remotely. Try it! It may feel awkward at first, but over time it will become life-giving.
I hope this helps and encourages you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me as well, I would love to hear from you!
Michael is the President and owner of tech42 LLC. He has more than 20 years of cross-discipline experience in the information technology industry, and has worked both as a network engineer and software developer. He is a passionate student of the interaction between technology and business and leveraging that knowledge to help tech42’s clients achieve both technology and business success.