Why it’s important to stay connected and engaged with each other during COVID-19
May 22, 2020
Business and IT grad, Tess Nash, found adapting to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic to be a new venture, and one that came with some challenges! Thanks to a great blended client / Accenture team, and some creative ways to deal with isolation, Tess has realised how crucial it is to feel engaged with her team, as well as emphasising the importance of our personal and professional connections during this troublesome time in our world.
After graduating from the Queensland University of Technology, I began my journey with Accenture in February 2018. Currently, I’m part of our Intelligent Software Engineering Services unit. When COVID-19 hit, my team was working on a client site, where we were helping to develop and support an enterprise data lake solution for the business.
When the offices began to close, our team had to embrace different ways of working within our team by working remotely. Transitioning to working from home was a new venture for me, as I’d worked from home before but never for an extended period. We as humans crave social interaction in some way, moving into isolation is a scary thought for some who thrive on being connected to others. However, I’m grateful that I’m not completely isolated – I still get to see my partner, my mum and other family members, which is great. And you can’t forget the usefulness of video chats, so I still get to connect with friends on a regular basis!
My cat Messi, who wanted to get involved in some of the work I was doing
while sitting with me – he wasn’t able to help with much, but he gave it a go!
The hardest part about the transition was not getting the chance to be in the same room as my team. We’re an eclectic mix of client and Accenture people who have always meshed well and collaborate easily to deliver quality service to our customers. It was challenging not being able to chat with the person beside you or tap someone on the shoulder when you needed a hand. Even though it’s good we can still see each other on video calls, it’s just not the same dynamic – now we had first-hand experience of what it like for our offshore and inter-city colleagues!
To keep everyone engaged, our team had to adapt our business processes as well as how we interacted while working remotely. Our daily stand-up started including emotional check-ins, where everyone got the chance to show how they were feeling that day. This provided insight on how our co-workers were coping with the changes so we could check in on each other regularly. We also set up a 2-hour window for a daily lunch call – meaning you can dial in and enjoy your lunch with a teammate, just like we used to do in the office!
In an agile team we value working hard, so celebrating our achievements is an important part of our team dynamic. In lockdown, we’ve learnt a bunch of new ways to facilitate team bonding – Friday night drinks have morphed into online gaming sessions as a group, and we even got the chance to make this TikTok video so we could have fun together and keep our team’s spirits high.
Stand up theme: Present our favourite cup or mug. We definitely had some awesome cups that were showcased during this session, and it was great to hear the stories behind them!
Our team leads are heavily focused on making sure we’re embracing a proper work/life balance, and not overloading ourselves or taking on too much. Being at home means that it’s easy to do another half hour or more here and there, and it might not always feel so easy to close the laptop and walk away. In this digital age, we need to continuously find ways to separate ourselves from our devices so we can properly relax. As a team, we aim to check in with each other when the workload starts ramping up and make sure we are taking regular breaks to support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Having that constant support has been imperative while being in isolation – it helps you to feel like you’re not alone.
To play my part in keeping our team connected, I’ve made it a point to catch up with everyone 1-on-1 since we’ve been working from home. I’ve realised there are people I don’t necessarily need to speak to every day to get my work done, but if I was in the office, I’d be touching base with them all the time. I feel it’s vital to check in on each other and see how everyone is doing, so I’ve kept those casual conversations going to ensure we feel connected and supported within our team.
Stand up theme: present our favourite toy. The range shown included childhood toys, tech gadgets, or even Lego mini figures.
I believe it’s incredibly important to continue interacting with others in your network. Since transitioning to working from home, my Accenture friends and I have planned a collective video call over lunch once a week. This has been helpful in continuing our socialisation with each other while being stuck in isolation – we are even able to connect with our friends in other cities, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up and have a laugh together.
I’m extremely proud of our team for the efforts we have put into adapting to working remotely with each other, and it’s remarkable that we’ve continued operating as a well-oiled machine under these difficult circumstances. While working remotely, we have embraced the changing conditions and maintained our velocity while performing well under pressure. Learning from our mistakes and challenging ourselves to continue to find new ways of working has really facilitated a unity within our team.
I feel I’ve been able to continue being myself whilst also working hard to do the best job I can and support my team. Working from home can have its positives, and it makes you realise the value of human connections in your everyday life. A multitude of tools are now available to help you stay connected with the people in your life, and it’s important to take every opportunity to stay engaged during this tumultuous time in our society. There are times when it can still be challenging, but it’s important that we remind ourselves that we can overcome this crisis with the support of each other.
Tess’s tips for working on your own
A stroll on the beach and sitting in the sunshine was a lovely way to spend the afternoon while visiting my family in Melbourne.