How COVID-19 has changed organisational behaviour for the better
July 14, 2020
Caroline had just started a new project when lockdown happened. Despite never meeting the client or her team in person – and having to deal with the demands of home schooling – this mother of three sees many positives coming out of the COVID crisis.
One Monday in March, I was supposed to go into the office to meet the client and my new team. But, on Sunday, an email arrived. Don’t go to the office. COVID-19 lockdown had started at the client site.
And so, my latest project began with all of us working from home. At first, I missed meeting my teammates face to face. But Accenture was already set up for remote working, so we quickly figured out how to work together online, and I actually enjoyed it.
It is less stressful having my office one metre from my bed – rather than spending 2.5 hours every day commuting. I use my extra time to get more sleep and regular exercise by going for a 45-minute walk every morning with a friend.
I have time to have breakfast with my kids. Before lockdown, I would always leave before the kids were up. Instead, we gained a beautiful moment of family time before their school and my work.
It’s been great to be more connected with my family. Home schooling was a bit challenging! But it was also a great opportunity for us, as parents, to spend more time with the kids.
Even though I’m working, I’m just one step away when they need me. They could knock at the door to say hello or ask a question. We get together again in the late afternoon and at dinner. Whereas before, my long commute meant I often didn’t get home until 7:30 p.m., so I missed some precious moments.
I’ve really enjoyed being confined with the kids, playing board games instead of taking them to sport or play dates. It has reminded us that family is the most important thing in the world.
I also like working without the distractions of the office. To me, it’s like being in a bubble. I’m 100% focused on my work.
From a team perspective, we’ve done a good job of building relationships with the client and each other. It’s a different way to get to know people. When you see each other at home – kids are running in and out, dogs are barking – you all open up a little bit more.
One of the most important and unexpected benefits for me is that lockdown has removed location as a barrier and technology has enabled everyone to get involved and have their voice heard. I have also found that we are bringing more humour into our sessions and spending more time on ice-breakers, which some could say wastes time but I disagree. My experience has been that it is creating stronger, more connected teams and relationships. The only real downside has been the temptation to work too much. You have to put in some boundaries. I’ve tried to stick to a hard stop and, every Friday, I close my laptop, put it in the drawer and remove everything from the desk to signal the transition to the weekend.
When we can go back to the office, I’m hoping to maintain the flexibility and keep some of the gains from new ways of working. To me, a little bit of home and office would be good. I plan to go to the office a couple of days a week.
And I’m definitely going to keep the new format with my team members in other locations both here and overseas. Working remotely really has meant that we’re more together now.