If you’ve listened to global news channels these past few days, you’ve likely heard the word “unprecedented” more than you can count. In Asia, we’ve been hearing similar language for over eight weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak took shape in our region. I fully realize that everyone’s personal and professional situations are unique, but I hope that there might be a nugget or two from my experience that will be helpful as people around the world begin to navigate this unprecedented crisis for the first time.
Here’s some advice for navigating COVID-19:
One of the most important things about working is the opportunity to build personal connections with like-minded individuals. Never underestimate the importance of the small casual interactions that happen in the office every day. It is not easy to fully replicate the in-person experience while working remotely; however, there are several tools and resources – Zoom, WeChat, Whatsapp—that can help you stay connected. Do not only use these tools to carry out “business as usual,” use video capabilities to check in with your colleagues on a personal level. This situation is new for everyone and everyone’s personal situation is different, so a quick call to ask, “How are you doing today?” goes a long way in someone’s day. In the end, we will get through this situation better together than on our own.
Flexibility is obviously very relevant for us as individuals as we learn how to adapt to a remote working environment, but it is even more important in the context of working together. Understanding that everyone’s situation is a little bit different and showing a willingness to flex your own schedule to accommodate your colleagues and clients will make it easier for everyone on your team to survive, and even thrive, in this new normal situation.
Lean into the unfamiliar
Every day you will be faced with new challenges about how to conduct your work while needing to be physically separate. Our teams at Prophet have been able to conduct virtual whiteboarding sessions and hold fun and interactive weekly all-hands meetings and social experiences. All of this came from the team’s willingness to embrace the unfamiliar and apply our best creative thinking to designing a new way forward.
Add your home duties to your schedule
When we are at work, we are all controlled by our meetings calendar. At home, you will need to balance multiple demands – whether it be your children at home from school closings and roommates working in close quarters. Schools in Hong Kong have been closed since the last week of January and all of us with kids have needed to juggle new home-schooling duties alongside our regular work. In my family, I was responsible for the home-schooling duties of our 6-year-old son. What worked best for me was scheduling time for my “second job” into my day. Every day from 3-5:30 p.m. I would pause my work to teach Reading, Writing and Math. Did that mean that some of my work was pushed into the evening? Yes. Did this experience bring me even closer to my son? Definitely! Do I have a newfound appreciation for Grade 1 teachers? ABSOLUTELY!
Take time to recharge yourself
There is no denying that what we are all experiencing is stressful so don’t forget to take care of your own well-being. You may even find it helpful to add some time to take care of your personal health during the day, especially if you are trying to work from home while your kids are off from school.
While working remotely and from home will feel strange and unfamiliar for a week or two, it will soon become more familiar. Business professionals around the world will come out of this situation with new skills and a new appreciation for one another.