When you belatedly stumble across the nefarious plans made by your nieces; a four step military skirmish they roped their Nannie into 😂

I obviously stood no chance trying to work effectively (remotely) this particular day. 

At some stage during the day, Miss almost-eight studied me for a while on my Zoom meetings and emails before asking ‘Aunty Nat, do you like your work?’

What a great question.  Honestly yes. 

What my mini me would have understood was if I had described the joy of writing, reading, imagination/creativity, problem solving and talking to people. 

Instead I simply said ‘yes’ to her disbelieving face and went outside to play a version of tunnel ball with both niece 4 and 7.    

Because they have plenty of time to consider their ‘work futures’ and what they like to do, and I need more time working on my imaginary play and creativity.   

Perfect. 

Childsplay precision planning

I was first in line when my hairdresser reopened.

But as I looked in the mirror after returning the blonde to the mousey brown, I was taken aback. 

It’s quite shocking to look like the ‘usual’ you instead of the ‘real’ you. 

Stuck in iso away from the fripperies of hair and beauty, I’d grown accustomed to myself.  

Who else has found that? 

Working from home, locked away from many other humans except on Zoom, I’d become more me than I’d ever been.  

Is it unusual to have a work you and a home you?   For me, both are authentic. 

But without the physical ‘office of the manager’ to differentiate you, and with a shared vulnerability suddenly acceptable, any veneer becomes unnecessary. 

Early on a team member suggested playing the game ‘two truths and a lie’ – essentially when we all have to guess who belongs to the stories and what the lie is – and it has kept us hilariously occupied for weeks during team meetings. 

It’s brought a lightness to catch ups, and has been endlessly fascinating to learn quirky things about each other, bringing a realness to the connections.   

As we enter into the second round of ‘two truths and a lie’, even with my blonde hair and the ‘usual me’ back, my poker face now needs work. 

That’s a nice problem to have 😊

#teamwork #resilience

I was first in line

I was always rushing. And apologising. And underestimating. Because someone wanted this, someone else had promised that, we already had X to do, and Y had popped up. 

In life, I wanted to please, I wanted to do all the things, drive home in a reasonable time with peakhour traffic, fit a gym class in, drink wine, call my family, run my business. 

The paradox of productivity

Chelsea Bond spoke at a recent Women’s Agenda conference about the paradox of productivity. She said COVID19 had suddenly introduced an understanding in everyone about the lack of productivity. It was now acceptable. Recognising the privilege of solid employment, as things were cancelled and slowed, she indicated she was present in ways she wasn’t pre-COVID because she’d been so caught up in the productivity loop.  

Sometimes productivity is just another word for busy. And sometimes busy isn’t always needed. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in more than a month of shutdown it’s what I care about and what I value. Freedom to choose. Being healthy. Contact with friends and family. Work. Fun. 

This has tested us 

Not having all of those things, or being restricted in some, are the things that have tested my mental health and resilience, just like it has may others’. 

I’ve tried to accept, to “pivot”, to learn, to adjust and to wait. It’s the waiting that has in fact been the hardest; the not knowing.

As I watched the PM’s media conference and absorbed the national three-step program for release I felt a little hope and a little fear. I wanted some ‘outs’ but not too many because of a sincere lack of faith in people’s ability to follow rules that keep them safe. 

Waiting until Monday for the Victorian Premier was excruciating and also, for many, an anticlimax. However, he nailed the two things I care the most about it when it boils down to it. Seeing my family and friends. Oh, and a third happened – my hairdresser felt safe enough to reopen. 

It was obvious Victoria’s stage one didn’t help everyone and it’s a long road back. I had the luxury of being okay with that slow road back.

Seeing the next steps announced in dribs and drabs is equally excruciating for those whose businesses need certainty and guidance – and hope. 

But for some, like me, this slow release is a chance to start to right the world, stop floating and consider what the future may be like without as much fear as there was going in to iso. 

The other normal

Chelsea Bond also commented that she doesn’t want to go back “to the other normal”.

Neither do I. This new normal needs to be a little different. 

What does it really look like?

  • An opportunity
  • A hard slog 
  • Increased workplace hygiene and no more soldiering on….
  • A new workday rhythm
  • A new workday location 
  • A more gentle chasing of new dreams
  • Increased gratitude for the quiet times
  • More love of family and friends 
  • More hugs 
  • Less dependence on things 
  • Less harshness 

How many days does it take to create a new habit? The world appears keen. But memories are short. 

Is this truly our most teachable moment ?

And how much can we be taught? 

I was always rushing

This is not business as usual.

And neither is the management space in which we find ourselves. 

Working remotely is different – regardless of whether you do it normally or not.

It requires a different connection, a different rhythm, and a different productivity push.

I was asked – by my own team members – to write about my experience managing a remote team.

Honestly, I should have asked them. And I will.

But my comms team has been amazing during this time – using all the buzz words, team members have been pivoting, embracing innovation, jumping in head first and doing change on the run.

Being busy gives purpose and structure but it has its downside also through email overload and exploding inboxes.

We miss the people aspect and the chocolate sharing (or is that just me?) 

It’s important to always keep in mind that people are dealing with remote life as well as remote work and everyone has a different way of dealing with that.

We have a daily work from home team catch up over Zoom. There’s not always an agenda and sometimes there are games. Pets and children are encouraged as they lighten it up. Hats and glittering backgrounds also welcome. 

In our team Whatsapp group we mainly gossip, share pics or complain about internet connection. 

And the team is keeping themselves connected and organised – smaller team meetings are more regular and work being divided daily.

Considerations for managing remotely:

  • Adapt your leadership style if you need to (more will be required of you)
  • Set clear priorities. And where you can’t (because everything is urgent!), ask for the help of your team to work that through
  • Ask questions but don’t micro-manage (set and let them go)
  • Regular contact (let team members help determine what that looks like)
  • Let your natural leaders shine. If they are volunteering to do things they don’t normally, let it happen
  • Wear hats/sparkles/pjs/costumes on your Zoom call – basically whatever your team want, do it
  • Encourage pets/children/cartoon character involvement in Zoom meetings
  • Invite your team to throw in a bit of innovation or behaviour change before someone notices:
  1. a) challenge the ‘we don’t do that’ attitude, because you do now!
  2. b) let the team show you what they’ve got/try and fail if you need.
  • Evaluate the work – and report to show it. Change if you need.
  • Brief up on what the team is doing because those you’re responsible to can’t see you 
  • Give positive, genuine, truthful and authentic feedback 
  • Be open. Let team members learn about you and learn about them (vulnerability is not a failure, sometimes stuff is hard)

The world is becoming less strange. Slightly.

But as it opens up again, it offers opportunities we’ll take forward with us as a team, as I will as a manager.

Remote Working