Throughout his decade-long TMP career, Phillip Reid has never had to work from home. Partly because we’d all miss him but also he is pretty much physically needed in our spaces. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working conditions have changed for our magnificent hosting staff. This will of course be the case for a lot of people and, like Phillip, you may find this sudden shift quite difficult. In order to maintain productivity (and sanity) Phillip has been writing about his venture into home working.
So the decision was made before full-lockdown came into place that we were to work from home whenever we weren’t required to be in the office, and lo and behold guess who form the hosting team was first up…me. I was very anxious about this but I knew it was bound to happen at some point. Luckily TMP members have always been very supportive to one another so I managed to get a lot of useful advice about how to go about my home working day. With (slightly) more confidence, I grabbed a laptop, stick and hanky, and headed home.
My morning routine didn’t change much. I got up, made a coffee, checked my social media, had a shower and got dressed. Then this is where things started to differ. Instead of getting my phone and tracking the bus, I logged in to the laptop and checked in on Slack.
Notifications cleared I asked myself, “What am I supposed to do now? This isn’t where I work. Where are my colleagues? When and how do I serve the catering? Why is no-one asking me to make tea?!”. Luckily at one of our weekly team meetings we had hashed out some ideas and projects of what to work on whilst at home, without any clients or Members in front of us to engage with or service.
And so, in my first ever day of home working I got all settled into my ‘new office’ and was ready to create a project plan for the long months ahead, but I forgot a very important element about working in my living room; I have two cats. As you may well know, cats are curious creatures and these two have never seen a laptop before. Trying to respond to emails whilst staring at the back of a bluepoint ragdoll’s head is not an easy thing to do, but after a back and forth he finally got bored and I managed to get on with things.
With the lack of hosting duties and interruptions, I did manage to have quite a high level of concentration and created a thorough project plan. I cleared my inbox and made a start on blogs, research projects and planning ahead for the next few weeks.
Throughout the day the TMP team stayed connected through Slack channels and WhatsApp, which helped to build morale through this unfamiliar set up. Before I headed for my lunch I got to see my team’s smiling faces through Zoom, which was a boost. Oh, and the cat briefly got to meet the team!
And so it begins, the ‘new normal’…
Not long after, on Monday 23rd March we decided it was time to close our doors. Whilst this was expected, it still took time for me to digest as this place is a huge part of my life. We’ve spent the last week working out how to run a coworking business without a physical coworking space (I know, right!).
I took the learnings from my home working day last week and was feeling more confident. I have managed to set my working patterns, schedule breaks and stay connected with our wonderful team and members via Zoom and Slack. I still have trouble switching off my work brain, especially now I’m living in my office. As time goes on I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I imagine a lot of people are having to adapt in similar ways with all that’s going on.
So that was my first week of home working, it was different but surprisingly easy for me to settle in to. But one thing’s for sure, it’s not something I want to do every day. God bless coworking!
Those of you who are home working and are finding it difficult without your colleagues, there are many popular (and free) tools available to help stay connected and keep morale up.
WhatsApp: Let’s start with the most popular app. With over 5 billion users you can connect by messenger, phone and video using wifi. We have also found it useful creating group chats where we can all stay in touch with a group discussion. Mostly we use this for memes, GIFs and inside jokes to keep us all smiling.
Slack: Growing in popularity over the past few years, this online instant messaging platform has been such a vital tool for connecting all staff at TMP. You can create multiple channels in your virtual workplace adding whomever you wish to each (depending what’s relevant). This has also become more efficient as a lone work check in tool.
Zoom: As social distancing is now the thing to do, communication is now mostly being done online. Chat apps like Whatsapp and Slack are great, but sometimes communication in writing can often lead to misinterpretation. Also, it’s nice to see a friendly face! Zoom can connect multiple people at one time for up to 40 minutes, and there is an affordable monthly subscription if you need more time to chat.
Our response to closing our doors has been to create The Virtual Pot. We’re using all the tools above to create an online space with the magic of The Melting Pot. Currently The Virtual Pot is only open to current TMP members, but we’ll be opening it up for new applications very soon. If you want to be added to the waiting list drop us an email on [email protected].
Look after yourselves!