Sarah Robson, Marketing Manager at Netstar gives us a glimpse of what the experience of lockdown has been like for her, and how getting the right set up initially helped her tremendously.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the ‘new normal’ and how things will look in the future. As Twitter announced they will be allowing all employees to continue to work from home permanently, it will have made many of us think about our working routines and what we want our lives to look like when we all go back to ‘normal’.

This has made me look back at the changes we’ve all experienced over the last few months. How easy was it to make the transition to working from home fulltime and how has this made us feel in terms of productivity, happiness and sense of community? Here, I share my experience with you.

WFH

I’ll be the first to admit that in the past I wasn’t the biggest fan of working from home. I would do it from time to time, but for the most part I was a solid office attendee.

With social isolation coming into effect, I was forced to confront what was probably somewhat a personal fear of mine, working from home fulltime. How was I going to do it? Would I get enough done? Would I miss my colleagues? All these thoughts were quite unnerving.

Luckily, along with the rest of the team, I have had excellent support from my company and have found that in some ways, I am actually more productive working at home. And although I do miss my colleagues, thanks to some great technology, we still manage to maintain a sense of community.

How has my working life changed?

Paying attention to the plethora of tips out there about how to keep working productively and stay happy was the best way for me to settle into this lifestyle. Setting a new routine has been vital in maintaining a sense of normality.

By establishing my routine; having most video calls in the morning, taking a normal lunch break, and generally trying to keep to my normal working hours, I’ve found that in some ways I actually get more done. There are fewer interruptions at home (I’m not sure those with children would agree with me there!) and I can fully focus on the task at hand without fear of distractions.

At Netstar we have a daily ‘Huddle’ where we all get together to discuss our priorities for the day and raise any issues we are experiencing. This has always been at 10:11am and throughout lockdown and social isolation we have continued to have it using video conferencing. This has been a great way for me feel connected to the company and to touch base with my colleagues, even those I wouldn’t interact with directly all the time. This also forms the backbone of my daily schedule, fitting other team meetings and important calls around it.

By sticking to a routine and connecting with colleagues regularly, my working life hasn’t changed too dramatically. Having lived in central London for over five years now, the idea of an increase in remote working does give me a greater sense of flexibility when it comes to where I might live in the future. I’m sure this is true for many people out there.

How hard was the adjustment?

I’ll just say that I’ve never been more grateful to work for a tech company. Although getting used to working at home fulltime definitely wasn’t easy, having the right set up in place helped me to keep working during a crazy and unprecedented situation. By being encouraged to focus on creating a good working space and bringing home equipment such as a screen to work from (we’re fans of big screens and/or dual monitors here at Netstar!), I managed to keep going and found satisfaction in still being able to get my job done. I’d imagine that if we didn’t have the backup and disaster recovery plans in place that we did, or access to cloud solutions, the adjustment would have been a lot harder.

Before going into lockdown I had hired a new team member. Luckily we were able to onboard her and start getting her working as planned. Although it was an unusual time to be training someone new, it has been very rewarding to see how successful it can be. The technology available to us means that physical locations are becoming less and less important in the workplace, and this is just one example of successful remote working.

What will the ‘new normal’ look like?

From what I can gather the ‘new normal’ will be a blend of working from home and in modified offices. Many companies will choose smaller office spaces with more staff working from home than in the past.

Companies will also likely think more carefully about business travel and whether something that would have been a plane journey in the past, might now be a Zoom or Microsoft Teams video call.

It’s hard for anyone to know exactly what the future will look like, but it’s clear that we won’t simply go back to how we were before. Businesses need to prepare for that.

It will be a gradual shift getting back to the office, but one thing I’m looking forward to is when I can eventually catch up with my colleagues in person again. One of the great things about working at Netstar has always been the team, so it will be great to see them all again in the (hopefully not too distant) future!