How to homework through the coronavirus crisis

Flexible working expert Jane Sparrow provides advice for employers and employees on getting through the coronavirus crisis.

working from home with a laptop


With all UK employers now asking people who can to work from home and many juggling caring responsibilities, business culture and remote working expert, Jane Sparrow has some tips for employers and employees alike.

Talk early and talk openly

If you’ve got dependents begin open, honest conversations with colleagues now on what this is going to mean for you. If you don’t have dependents but work with people who do, talk with those individuals soon. We’ve all got to work together on making the new reality work.

Virtual connection points

Involve everyone in the team to talk about the possible times of day when everyone could be available e.g. to have a team call. This might only be for half an hour or you might have to run an A and B shift to stay connected.

Work in shifts

If you have a partner and they are working from home also, taking shifts is a no-brainer if you have caring responsibilities, including early morning and late night shifts.

Chunk it down

Don’t try and do everything – if you’re able to, have parts of your day where you’re absolutely focused on work.

Create boundaries

If you’re able to because there’s two of you on the job at home, create boundaries to help you focus when working.

Don’t plan too far ahead

Make individual and team plans by the day or week (at most).

Be fully present in your current activity

That means that if you’re having a stint with the family, do that 100 per cent. When you’re working, give that your total focus (using boundaries above). You’ll feel much better for it (and get more done).

Power work for productivity

According to a study of 185 million workers, the average person is productive for two hours and 48 minutes each day. Schedule your day well and you can actually increase your output while you’re home by carving out time for deep work.

A flexible to do list

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 to achieve, depending on the window you have.

Work with your body

If you work best in the morning, try and work then, accepting that in the afternoon you may not get to work as much, but you’ve made hay at your most productive time.

Be kind to yourself

Working and balancing caring responsibilities is not easy. Be kind to yourself and celebrate the small wins (and stuff you got done) each day.

Embrace a different lens

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.

Be realistic and honest

We’re all in this crisis together so there’s no need to hide your practical limitations and challenges – leaders being open and honest about their own working patterns (and limitations) can really set the tone for this.

Be human

‘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.

*Jane Sparrow is founder and director at The Culture Builders who have been supporting Asian businesses through the eye of the coronavirus storm since the end of last year and is now supporting a range of UK businesses too.

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