No more pyjamas

Empty Essex County Council offices

I recently shelved a blog post called ‘5 things we’re doing differently’ due to be published this week.  Because all of a sudden, from March 18, the Service Transformation team were doing a lot of things differently.

Like many organisations across the country, we are working from home until further notice.  We often work from home, so we didn’t think much would change. But then it did.

Get dressed

Suddenly, video calling went from something we did occasionally to it being the main way to stay in touch. Our daily stand up became a video call. We’d always dialled into stand up but never seen the need to add video. But without a physical presence we realised we might miss each other. It dawned on us that seeing each other would do a lot to keep us sane in the days, weeks and possibly months ahead.  Remember to brush your hair. Get dressed. No pyjamas.

What we were working on had to be reviewed to accommodate new priorities. The number of video calls increased, to allow us to collaborate on new priorities. Information via MS Teams, email and other channels also increased.  It was challenging to juggle staying in touch with all of these channels and finding the time to focus on the actual work itself. The first four days left us feeling frazzled.  The arrival of the weekend was a blessing.

By Monday we’d started to adjust. There was new stuff to take in and the situation was still changing but we’d settled into it.

Down with the kids

Colleagues with children now faced the challenge of working with children at home.  Some of them having to divide their day between project plans and lesson plans.  Which is great when you can change your working hours to fit the time around your child’s teaching, but it makes for an awfully long working day.

Our personal and work roles have merged. Some of us are employees, parents, teachers, cooks and housekeepers all at once. And all of that happens in the same location. Our homes have become offices, schools and places to relax. We’ve never invited so many work colleagues into our homes. We’ve got used to seeing our colleagues’ kids, pets and kitchens.

What day is it?

It’s only Tuesday but it feels like Friday and we’ve have learned a lot in a week, much of which we will probably take into the working environment when ‘normal’ service resumes. Colleagues who were reluctant to turn on the video function, have now relaxed into video calling. We’ve realised that taking time out with team mates to take a ‘virtual coffee break’ and just chat about random stuff is important and bonds us. I’m learning to get up from my desk more often and walk about and stretch.

We still have a long way to go yet but even in a week we’ve shown ourselves that we can adapt, and adapt pretty quickly.

We’ll learn a lot more along this journey than we would ever have thought possible a week ago.  But we’re all in this together. Just not in pyjamas.

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  1. Comment by Helen Crumley posted on

    Caroline, a great post. One thing I've found on calls now we've settled into it is people are much more efficient and meetings are a lot shorter, so a positive there!

    Stay well, Helen

    • Replies to Helen Crumley>

      Comment by Caroline McCabe posted on

      Thanks Helen! Lovely to hear from you, and yes - there are so many positives we can take from this. Take care, and stay safe!

  2. Comment by Claire posted on

    Great post. I’ve also noticed much more video calling as people feel the need to see faces!

  3. Comment by Hilary Rogers posted on

    Great post Caroline - please say hi to the rest of the team for me.

    I've taken to doing lunchtime circuits of the garden, much to the amusement of our neighbours.

    Take care and stay safe.

    • Replies to Hilary Rogers>

      Comment by carolinemccabe posted on

      Hi Hilary, glad you enjoyed it and good to hear you're keeping busy as well as entertaining the neighbours!
      Keep safe and carry on


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