What You Are Doing is Not Remote Work, It is Coping in a Global Emergency

Give yourself and your team a break.

by Naomi Ryland, March 25, 2020

Our whole company has been working remotely for nine months so inevitably, when the whole of the rest of Germany - and much of the world - was told to do the same, we received a lot of requests asking for help. How can we still work effectively? How do you keep your employees motivated? How do you structure your day? What are the best tools?

We have been doing our best to field these questions, we hosted two free webinars this week both of which were sold out, and have done some QandA sessions for individual companies. We have got loads of tips, tricks, best-practice and no-gos, many of which are also gathered here

However, there is one thing that we feel needs to be said: What you are doing here is not remote work. What you are doing is finding ways to cope in an unprecedented global emergency. So here are some alternative FAQs to your burning questions about working from home:

How can you still work effectively as a remote worker?

Let's keep perspective. What is happening here is not remote work. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Remote working is a choice, which a company considers, plans for, recruits for and creates structures for. In the current scenario, however, most companies decided to do home office literally overnight. It will take time for everybody to adjust and you probably won't, fully, before all this is over. Accept it, take one step at a time, and be as adaptable as you can to your own changing needs and those of your team members. 


How do you structure your day when working remotely?

Crucially, as a remote worker, you are able to work in whatever place you choose. Whether that be a cafe or a coworking space.  You can even move between the two! You can meet friends at lunchtime, go to an event in the evening and have a swim in the local pool before work. What most of you are experiencing now, is home office lockdown. This. Is. Unprecedented. There are no rule books or business books for this scenario. Take one day at a time, try something different each day and figure out what helps you to get some work done and stay sane. Everybody is different. 

What are the best tools and software for remote teams?

The mental and physical health of your employees and team mates should be at the top of the list, above productivity, efficiency and "what are the best tools for remote project management". Always wanted to work on your team culture but never quite found the moment? Wondered how to be a great coach and mental health advocate for your team? This is your time to shine! The managers and team members who take the time now to invest in the wellbeing of their team members will have the most loyal, creative and resilient bunch of humans to work with in a few months time. Regular checkins and checkouts in every meeting are an absolute gold standard. Take. The. Time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

How to ensure productivity and motivation in a remote team?

There is a simple answer to this question: Don't have a global health crisis going on. In these extreme circumstances, productivity is going to be low for most people.  At least to start with. The external circumstances are extremely unpredictable and unsettling. Putting pressure on yourself and others to hit impossible deadlines is not the way to deal with this. Take your time. Breathe. Figure out what physical and mental resources you (and your team) need to get through the day - whether that is meditation, chocolate or an hour of chitchat instead of an agenda-driven meeting - and make sure you get them. 

How can I ensure that I get work done with children at home?

If you have children at home, accept that you will not be able to work and you will not be able to home school. You will do your best at surviving and ensuring that your kids survive and that is all that you can ask of yourself. If you are managing team members in this situation, you are going to have to trust them to do the best they can. And they will return this trust with exactly that: their absolute best now and forever. Demanding anything else of them will only be destructive. 

You are doing enough. Look after yourself. Look after your team members. Look after your kids. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this. Don't let "Remote Work" be something that stresses you or your team. Only you can control that. It is your call.  

Naomi Ryland is one of the founders of tbd*, the digital platform and community around working with purpose. She is also author of the book, "Starting a Revolution: what we can learn from female entrepreneurs about the future of business".