when the world works from home
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
on team productivity at the time the world works from home, freakonomics radio and how to build a mobile team that works
ugh what an obnoxious headline
a mobile team
that was prompted by a nervous tick i couldn't hide. what i really mean was a team that can work out of the office or from home
i'm getting nervous and anxious now that the word 'economy' flashes the screen just as much as the word 'covid' and '19' for someone, me for one, who has 'zero clue' what the economy is and always has a desire to distance themselves from it as if its the new novel coronavirus. now i start to see 'recession', 'unprecedented' and 'global' accompanying it, i know that if i don't understand how the world economy works i will be totally screwed in the next six months if i survive this crazy time. i have to start to start somewhere so i turn to freakonomics radio podcasts
i was weighing between revealing that my weakest spot is the lack of knowledge about the economy and keeping it a secret. so that i start of this blog like an intellectual tech genius who spends fifteen minutes to write. bad news for you, i am not that guy. duh
the episode titled 'the side effects of social distancing' it's the station 373 episode. believe me when i say this is the first freakonomics episode i've ever listen to with full interest. while they're discussing, i will say, high level effects from social distancing on the global scale. there is a very useful work from home tip inside
it was advice if you are a leader you check on your employees one-on-one on a daily skype call like 10 - 15 min per day
from my experience, when i worked for a chinese tech firm that allowed workers to work from home, it didn't work for my ex bosses. however i was a freelancer and now managing my own small advertising agency. i've been working solo, being my own boss, managing vendors for almost a decade
i was building my team on the concept of forming a team of self-motivated, creative artists that can perform and deliver high quality works out of office. i knew that work-from-home is the trend that will come in this decade. what I didn’t know is that the new novel-coronavirus will disrupt the way we work and it is here. now
it took months for me to get used to being my own boss and get in the flow (the flow is the moment when you perform work confidently and feeling invincible when you're at work) if we were to project the pandemic to end in the next two month it will be the time an average person can adjust to work from home life and that'd be a shame if they get back to the office once they're able to thrive by themselves
what can you do if you want to recruit a team member for a team that can perform work out of office?
what you need to look at is their hobby. if they have a hobby that they do it consistently which turn into a project it's a tell-tale sign that they can work independently. ask if they ever make money out of the hobby. if the answer is yes then it's a reassurance that this is the person you can trust them to work outside of office
the next thing is to dig deeper if their hobbies fit the job description they are applying for. it's a good thing to have an architect with a skill in water-colour painting in your team and it's a good idea to have a marketing manager who writes in their own free time
i'm not sure if a lawyer that goes to target practice on weekends is a good idea but that's your call. but a business advisor and a primal urge to trim a cat's hair may not go hand-in-hand. what you really need to focus on is their hobbies can add extra benefit to the job requirements
the last thing to ask to just make sure that they are self-motivated enough to work
from home is to investigate their newest skill. simply ask a question: what is the recent thing that you learned, or in the process of learning?
if they're learning something new. bingo. three boxes are checked. now you can move on to find out whether this candidate can work in a team
a gently reminder. we are all human
even if you have a team that is equipped to work from home, let not forget that you are not alone in the economy *warned you i have zero idea how economic works so please make sure you're sober and able to do your own fact check every time you see the word economy or economic in what i write* because you have to collaborate with people outside your organisation, within your company but from different department, this is why although you are working from home in a normal time you have to perform during business hours no matter what
at this point my mailboxes has been rather silent in the afternoon, work group communication channels, quiet, hack, even phone call. is anyone bother picking up phone calls anymore?
then quite unexpectedly, my mailboxes, all work group comm channels were bombarded with emails from 5pm - 11pm sometimes till midnight
what does this say about the changes in the workforce now that many are working from home?
humanly. many are taking their lunch break a little bit too long
this effect the way i work as well as i have to wait for vendor to submit the work, feedback from my client and even attend to project that i have in hands
what would you do when the majority of people you are working with are
responding to you in odd hours?
considering the situation we are in, it's not a good idea to wait until tomorrow and put on your guard 'it's already pass my working hours and wait till i can attend to this tomorrow' this will only draw conflict which i am sure is the last thing you want right now
so here is what i do
if you nap i will i nap, too
please note: if your working condition is differ than mine don't do this
what happens is when they awake and it's already 4pm that's when they start to perform work again. so for me 5pm - 11pm became the new afternoon shift.
because of this, if you are awake when everyone is asleep and then you work till 11pm, you get tired. more tired than you usually are even by the crisis mode standard, and then you lose the energy and motivation because if no one responds in the afternoon you might end up consuming way to many news and, face it, there is no good news, we see them on the horizon but not right now babes, not in the next two weeks, at least
if you really have a desire to keep your shit together amidst the time when it is ok to don't have your shit together, here is what might work in the current situation
if i have a team that i didn't form it for working from home what i would do is to have everyone join in the group "video chat" room during business hours and turn on their camera
i am working from anywhere but home - i have to say that never really work from home - i spent (oh gosh already the past tense) morning hours working out of a coffeeshop. and then move to my co-working space area or in my office
it's the surrounding where you work that you see other people also working, studying or have a casual meeting. you get the sense of being together when in fact you were at liberty. alone but together
this is the reason i suggest the idea of having everyone on your team join the video group call daily. not because you want to monitor them to see if they're working. they can take a nap, take late shower, take care of their kids
it because you want to find your own outcome from this experiment and most importantly to give your teammates the sense of being alone but together in this unusual time that we need to keep social distance so our specie can survive
sam nathapong is the founder of content frappe follow him on twitter @samnathapong