Widgets Magazine

The Tech Life: The COVID-19 Culture Shift

The pandemic has given rise to new ways of working from home and with each other

Once upon a time, before computers, the only way to be at work was to, well, physically be at work. If your boss couldn’t see you, you were not working. Then one day, after computers became commonplace and smartphones became cemented to us, and cell coverage covered all the nooks and crannies of the world, we found we could no longer leave work.

Yet, the workday didn’t change. Most people are still expected to show up at work on time with overheard whispers if you walked in “late.” No one saw you working late last night, finishing a proposal or curing a gremlin in a system, so, therefore, to the company, you were not at work.

Then one day, a pandemic happened, and we were all told by the powers that be that we could not come into the office and click into our chains. Work would now happen from home. Installs, notwithstanding, we did a pretty good damn job. We logged in remotely from software on our laptops, we brought home our VoIP phones, and we finally figured out how to use that video conferencing software we’ve been selling.

Now that the worst is over (we hope) and the nation has begun to reopen, we are at a precipice: return to the office and put your shackles back on or find a hybrid of work and home.

According to Forbes, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that, with the exception of those required to be physically present in the office, Twitter employees will be allowed to work from home permanently even post pandemic. Microsoft and Amazon are remote through October. Google, Twitter, and Facebook employees that don’t need to be in the building will work from home until the end of the year.

As an owner of a smaller AV firm, I’ve learned a few things (mostly by doing it the wrong way first) over the last few months on both working remotely myself and not seeing my team every day.

Tasks versus Time
Let’s say the assignment is to run five miles. Line up five members of your team and say go. Do you think it will take each member the same amount of time to run the distance? Now perhaps we give them eight hours to complete the task, how long will it take them? My point is that we have different superpowers. Maybe, we start thinking how much we would employ a person for and stop worrying about how much they’re getting done in 15-minute increments? Are they getting the job done?

Transparency and Expectations
“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.” —Stephen R. Covey

These have been fluid times, and there is no script for this. However, does your team know what you expect of them? Is it clear? Have you had honest conversations with them about the company’s state and what is needed to survive? Now, more than ever before is a time for radical candor.

Connecting While Apart
Whatever your infrastructure is, make sure you are connecting with your team while apart. We use the Microsoft 365 suite, and during the NY Pause, we enlisted additional Teams meeting to connect and see each other’s faces. We use Planner to assign and keep track of tasks for ourselves and others working on a project. There was a time if one wasn’t at the office you did not want to disturb them. That time is over. My VoIP phone is mirrored and at my desk and in my home. We are breaking the mold and one does not to have to sit behind a desk to get the job done.

So far, quality of life is better. My team is working through the kinks and happier. Happier that can still live and get their job done. We have the chance to change, let’s do it.

About Author

Heather Sidorowicz

Heather L. Sidorowicz owns an AV integration firm in Buffalo, NY, and has been in the industry for more 20 years. She freelances for multiple trade publications.

1 Comment

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    Love your quote “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.” —Stephen R. Covey
    Thanks for putting in a text what the challenge for every manager.

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