Corona surprised us all and sent us all to the home office together. Even companies and bosses who “work remotely” with labels like “unthinkable” or “unproductive” are now forced to send their employees home. And even worse: they have to work from home themselves. Ironically, the massive restrictions in public life and our radius of movement go hand in hand with new freedoms in everyday working life. Now, as TCJG consultants, we are more often on the move remotely. With customers, on train trips or actually from the kitchen table at home… For us this situation is not so new and unfamiliar. Of course, the time variable of not going to the office not only on a daily basis, but for weeks on end, gave the situation a new dimension. This calls for new rules for cooperation. After all, we are a team and not lone fighters.
#1 the infrastructure
Thanks to our digital expertise and our willingness to experiment with new trends and tools, we had the decisive advantage of a functioning infrastructure. Everyone is equipped with smartphones and laptops. Via cloud systems, Microsoft teams or even the familiar VPN connection, all documents, links and contacts are available at all times. Prerequisite number 1 in the form of hardware and software was already there.
#2 new game rules
As organizational consultants in an agile environment, we have been working with agile meeting formats such as “dailys” or “Scrum meetings” for a long time. Nevertheless, the new spatial distance also creates a need for more structure. We have therefore split up our weekly Monday meeting. Five “Morning dailys”, a virtual check-in and a short final meeting, a check-out give our days a framework. This almost gives a new meaning to the agile word “re-framing”… The following morning procedure has proven to be very nice and personal for our small team: First a short, personal check-in without “professional context”. How am I doing today? What moves or occupies me? What am I looking forward to? Sometimes this is longer, sometimes shorter. Of course, “Corona” was also a topic. At this point it doesn’t matter to go beyond the scope of a 15min- SCRUM meeting. When the need is there. It makes everyone feel emotionally closer to each other. It is a small consolation for the private talks that are usually held over lunch or in the coffee kitchen. This is followed by an outlook on the day’s tasks of each individual. Here also fast possible co-ordination need becomes clear, meetings are immediately specified. We use “individual maps” for our tasks and projects. These are small digital cards that can be easily created in Trello or Microsoft Planner. This way, everyone knows who is working on which tasks. Responsibilities and dependencies are transparent. Even the individual small work steps and timings can be mapped easily and quickly. Our daily closing meetings then follow the Scrum principle. They are crisp and last a maximum of 15 minutes. Nevertheless they are important. All team members maintain a common level of knowledge. This allows us to react flexibly and quickly to changes that occur hourly, especially in these times.
#3 new freedoms
My Learning Number 1 in the home office: Every newly won freedom goes hand in hand with an increase in personal responsibility. Self-reflection, control, and management up to the supreme discipline of self-management are different competencies that build on each other. This is also what our participants of an online learning journey are currently learning at a customer. I, too, have noticed how important structure and self-knowledge are, especially in the home office. I can design some parameters completely freely. For example: what tasks do I set for the morning? Which ones in the afternoon? Other parameters are fixed and give structure to my day. Team calls, webinars or even breaks like lunch are among them. Of course, I’m in the luxury position of only being able to take care of myself. I am not disturbed by children or husbands. A nice example is the viral BBC News Live Interview. In the live interview with a professor in the home office, first both children and then the wife burst. All parents have a need for new home office rules for family members in these times to avoid such scenes. However, I find the private component very charming, which cannot be separated at all from the professional. After all, we are all daughters, sons, parents, partners. And I’ve always wanted to know what’s in my colleagues’ kitchen cupboards and how they are furnished.
#4 new learning
A nice new habit we have come up with at TCJG in our home office. And I really hope that we can keep it up in the post-Corona world. We have introduced a Lunch & Learn. A lunch call, sometimes with external guests, where we teach each other new tools, theories and practices. Digital knowledge sharing at its best! So many project management, collaboration and digital tools I have learned step by step in small nuggets over the last weeks. And applied immediately and integrated into my everyday work. We have also discarded some of them and rated them as “not relevant” for us. And that brings me directly to my last point.
#5 in peace lies the power
A large number of software and tools and the infrastructure that is now available allow us to do almost everything in the home office. Nevertheless, the same applies here as well: with measure and goal. Not every tool, every gimmick or every new software fits into the respective business model or the individual way of working. Despite zoom, teams and Google hangouts, we all need times without meetings. Only in this way can deep work be successful. My wish for the future: a new way of working in which remote and presence both have their place. Thanks to the (involuntary) increase in digital competence that we are all experiencing, these two worlds can now be united even better. Into a new linked digital working world that perhaps values personal contact even more than before.