Though working from home is common, it’s a whole different kettle of fish when you’re forced to work remotely.

And for some, that kettle of fish is literal.

‘My partner cooked fish for lunch today – very inappropriate as my office area is the kitchen/dining table.’

That confession came from the LinkedIn group for Princess Royal Training Awards Alumni.

Alumni members, representing some of the UK’s most prominent companies, shared their tips this week on how to make the most of this unusual time.

Be consistent

Everyone agreed that routines give your day structure and purpose.

Consistency in your leadership can also give your team peace of mind in a world that’s rapidly changing.

They should hear from you regularly, so they feel a sense of belonging and support.

‘For me, it’s more important than ever for managers to do the basics of their roles,’ Peter Coats, Group Protection Academy Manager at Legal & General, commented.

‘[That includes] checking in with people, giving them time to talk about what’s on their minds, but also giving them focus – ie hold them accountable for being productive.’

This is especially important in a time when people experience so much upheaval.

Chat

Several alumni members use tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep up the flavour of being in the office.

They mentioned using channels like team wellbeing, COVID-19 updates, tips for keeping children busy, and a watercooler for online banter.

Some found value in short, informal morning catch-ups.

‘Our team have introduced daily virtual coffee chats at 8:45 for just 15 mins – optional to join – so we can chat and keep connected and the chat is not work orientated,’ wrote Matthew Harding, Leadership Development Manager at Lloyds Banking Group.

Other leaders have kept up morale with virtual pub quizzes and other small competitions.

As one alumni member commented: ‘we’re going to need to get creative as the weeks go by.’

Switch off

One of the most challenging aspects of this moment is mental strain.

Many are juggling new ways of working with other responsibilities like looking after children, taking care of relatives, and dealing with the stress of a pandemic.

To cope, alumni members suggested taking breaks.

And they don’t have to be anything elaborate. Even seemingly mundane things like taking out the bins or doing the washing up can be a welcome change.

Members are also strong advocates of shutting down at the end of the workday.

Since commuters are used to physically leaving an office behind, it’s even more important to pack up and switch off when you live in your office.

Move

Alongside taking breaks, it’s important to get the heart rate up.

‘It’s easy to be logged on for long periods and hardly move when you are working at home,’ Matthew Harding said.

Some members join their children in online PE classes, like the popular sessions from UK trainer Joe Wicks.

One alumni member has a triathlete in his team who runs virtual exercise sessions that cater to all ability levels.

A useful idea is scheduling exercise breaks in the diary just like any other meeting.

Take advantage

With all the mental, physical, and emotional challenges people are facing right now, it’s easy to forget the positives.

Some of the upsides include more time with family members and not having a long commute.

That’s why alumni members said it’s important to look on the bright side – quite literally.

One member of the group was grateful for the option to work outside in the fresh air and sunshine, especially while her husband at his fishy lunch!

No one knows how long we all need to stay at home. But some members are making the most of it by cooking an elaborate breakfast, doing yoga in the middle of the day, and conducting a Zoom meeting in a smart top and pyjama bottoms.

Interested in hearing more?

We are sharing insights, ideas and innovative ways individuals and organisations are facing up to the challenges raised by Covid-19. Whether you’re an employer, a student or a charity, we’d love to hear from you and for you to check out what’s going on around our communities on the City & Guilds Foundation website.

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