By Sophie Harkness, Operations Director at Incubeta

Home working has become our new normal, and the benefits are set to outlast the lockdown. Whilst geographically we’re further apart, new technologies and different ways of working have brought us closer together as a company. We are, literally, inviting each other into our homes and lives – albeit virtually.

However, as with any new way of working, both business leaders and their teams are having to learn and adapt quickly to the new flexible working environment. As children need to be cared for and pets need to be stimulated, striking the right balance to support and enable our staff to work from home is more important than ever. We believe that the core of being successful and effective at this time, is taking the human-first approach. In other words, your employee wellbeing should be at the fore.

Working with children...

Distractions at work are nothing new, and nothing compares to the balancing act of being a parent and working full-time.

Having to join a call can be difficult when your baby has just woken up but it can provide a great opportunity to connect, something that one of our parents found out first hand: “I was on a call with a client, when my little one woke up. The client encouraged me to bring the baby on to the call and we spoke about our kids for a while. I felt it really broke the ice and strengthened our relationship.”

For parents with toddlers, keeping them distracted for a long period without adult supervision can be a fun challenge. One of our parents has an emergency tool up their sleeve: “I have an old keyboard which I let my son play on to ‘work’ with me. It doesn’t entertain him for long, but I can normally get an urgent email out that way!”

Providing employees with the flexibility to juggle home life with work, and feel supported is incredibly important. Whether that’s making the wider team aware of their adjusted focused working hours, or welcoming little ones into meetings, the flexibility and understanding should be given by the bucket and spade load.

Pets can also take the spotlight

If anyone is a winner in this situation, it’s our pets, who are delighted to have their humans home all day. Even though they might be happy, they certainly know how to cause a scene when they want to: “Our family pug hates the Lloyds TSB Advert because there is a dog in it and barks even when he hears the music. Unfortunately, that advert came on twice during a client call, so I had to explain!”. However, just remember how much you’ll miss them when we’re back in the office and you’ll soon forgive them.

Mental health matters

In such a difficult and uncertain time, it is imperative leaders put an increased focus on mental wellbeing. Most, if not all, of our staff will be under a huge amount of stress even before they start work. Isolation is not an easy thing, so supporting each other is the most important thing we can do right now.

Our dedicated mental health advisors have created ‘Wellness Wednesday’ – a weekly update filled with tips and tricks to keep employees healthy and motivated while they work from home. Google Hangout workout sessions three times a day encourage employees to lower their screens and raise their pulses, and some join a daily virtual five-minute dance party with its own dedicated Spotify playlist to boost morale.

For me, I’ve been bowled over by how much care there is for each other. We have four values as a business and I think a fifth value will very quickly and naturally become ‘Care for one another’.

Technology is transforming the way we work

Cloud productivity platforms, such as Google’s GSuite, are invaluable to enable everyone remote access to all the documents and tools they need while being able to update and share work with colleagues or jump on a video conference in an instant.

It also enables us to continue the personal development of employees by creating “upskill yourself” courses on coding, soft skills and cross skills. We have also introduced a company-wide meeting at the end of each week to make sure we are all coming together.

Slack has been a game-changer. Not least the informality it brings, and the ability to drop in and out of the different channels. It’s had a real positive impact, COVID-19 or not, though the pandemic has ensured we have accelerated the implementation into the business.

Finally, remember to take time for yourself

It is a privilege to virtually visit so many people’s homes, meet their families and pets through video conferencing and I’m sure we’ll be much more connected as a result.

However, as the line between work and home life has become ever more blurred, it’s more important than ever to switch off and tune out. Finding time for ourselves will allow us to find some peace in the storm; helping to keep up the momentum as we continue on through this uncertain period ready to come out fighting on the other side.