A SOUTH WARNBOROUGH business has gone global, advising businesses across the planet during the coronavirus crisis.
The Culture Builders, a consultancy firm that specialises in building high performance teams and workplaces, has been working with businesses in Asia, and following the spread of the virus across the rest of the world, has expanded into other continents.
The business has been offering advice to others on how to set-up remote working, after the government advised people to work from home where possible.
Jane Sparrow, who co-founded the business in 2011 with Chris Preston, said: “With the continuous rise in flexible working, and more and more people having the option to work from home, remote working has been an area we’ve been focusing on for a long time.
“There are so many benefits of virtual working, for both people and businesses – spanning wellbeing, productivity and the environment. A small possible upside of the COVID-19 situation is that it may prove the case for more flexible working within companies who have been slow to adopt it.”
Over the last month, people have been forced to getting used to a new way of working and communicating with loved ones, with contact between households strictly banned, and many have found it’s not as easy as they thought.
Jane and Chris have offered some advice on how to work at home effectively during the pandemic:
With video communication, webcasting, messaging platforms and more, the tech is there to make this work. But attitudes and behaviours are key. Talk about what’s important for effective remote working in your team and how you’ll work, behave and communicate to support that.
There’s the office, there’s home and then there’s the virtual third place. Agree with your team how you’ll behave there for virtual collaboration success e.g. it’s acceptable to send a quick message to say “I’ll call you back” if you’re deep in focus.
When we work remotely, our exchanges become more formal and task focused. Pick up the phone, or ping a message, just to see how someone else’s day is going. Virtual team check-ins at the start or end of each day replicate the usual social greetings and create connection.
What works in the office may not remotely. Instead of lengthy meetings, have short virtual huddles with a strong chair so people don’t get lost because they’re not physically visible. Apply this thinking to team resourcing, scheduling and action planning.
Keeping in tune with how colleagues are feeling is critical – allow time on the start of every virtual meeting to say hello properly and see how people are. Avoid a diary nightmare and assume all meetings will take longer than scheduled to allow people space to talk and share.
Sit down and look at what needs to get done each week, rather than each day. Break them down into quick tasks that don’t involve a lot of brainpower and longer ones that demand deeper thinking. It shortcuts deciding what’s possible depending on the window you have (especially if you’ve got homeschooling in the mix!).
Distractions are the biggest reason why many people say working from home wouldn’t work for them. Talk openly with colleagues about how you’re managing yours and share tips – specific break times and little rewards throughout the day are a good start!
We have a human need to feel valued and when we work remotely the opportunities for this diminish. Make sure you seek out and actively share success and that you dial up the appreciation for each other.
What gives us energy is different for everyone but your people need to work it out fast for success. A tried and tested formula is breaks + movement + fresh air (every so often). Plus avoiding the lure of the biscuit cupboard with healthy snacks instead.
Involve everyone to talk about the possible times of day when people could be available e.g. to have a team call. This might only be for half an hour – if people have childcare commitments right now, or if you have a global team – run an A and B shift to stay connected if needs be.
If you work best in the morning, try and work then, accepting that in the afternoon you may not get to work as much (especially if you’re juggling kids) but you’ve made hay at your most productive time.
The current COVID-19 situation will mean that we’re looking through a new window into each other’s homes, families and wider lives. Embrace that and use it as an opportunity to connect on a more human level – if your children burst into a video call, let them say hi!
We’re all in this crisis together so there’s no need to hide your practical limitations and challenges – set the tone and be open and honest about your own working patterns (and limitations e.g. around childcare) so that others feel comfortable to do the same.
‘Words create worlds’ and at times like this how we make people feel is everything. Remember the human beings behind the laptops, the challenges they might be facing and help each other out as much as you can.
You can find out more about the company and their advice at theculturebuilders.com.