My remote working coping strategy

A while ago, we asked for staff’s tips for adjusting to remote working. Read on to find out what we learned.

Contributions from Jason Scott, Enterprise Solutions Architect, IM&T and colleagues across the Trust.

Video calls  

Circulate an agenda in advance.  Help people to prioritise and compile it in advance, not at the tail end of the call.  Allot time to each item and keep to schedule.

Allow time for people to fumble the log-in – send clear instructions in advance and test them. Be patient.

If there are slides or documents, circulate them in advance.  Don’t rely on being able to display them ‘live’. Often bandwidth is insufficient.

Be punctual. Tele-meetings are real meetings.

If people are working from home, and it’s not possible to lock children and the dog in the airing cupboard (!), use a decent headset/earphones with microphone.

The meeting chair should ask people to introduce themselves, and it’s polite to re-introduce yourself before you speak.  

An icebreaker is a good idea. Ask people what they had for breakfast, or send a picture of where they are…

Don’t be an agenda-benda.  Stick to the script and don’t let the meeting drag on.  Keep people engaged by asking for opinions.  

Keep people engaged. If you can hear the sound of a keyboard, it’s a sure sign people are disengaged and doing their Ocado order.

Prevent people talking over each other, make specific time for questions.

Make sure people understand which bit of the meeting they are to contribute to and how. Help them to get their documents lined up.

Keep minutes and action items, circulate them and follow through.  Don’t assume people know what they are doing next.  Demonstrate tele-meetings count.

Video conferencing needs rock-solid wifi. Have a standby, if it drops out.  You’ll want good lighting and if you are using a lap-top, put it up on some books so we are not treated to a view, up your nostrils. 

Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing in the background.

Sit still, it uses less bandwidth.

Avoiding burnout

It is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

·         Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

·         Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.

·         Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.

·         Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

·         Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

 

Tips from colleagues

My team are keeping in touch and trying to maintain morale and humour, even when working from home. One day we all decided to wear hats for our call, then we found out you could add backgrounds!
Shaun Mann MCIPS
Senior Category Manager – Estates & Facilities

The general atmosphere within the hospital has been one of solidarity and kindness. Everyone is doing their best to provide the same gold-standard level of care and rehabilitation. Our patients and the general public have been hugely supportive; and this makes a big difference. I’m coping with these unprecedented changes by keeping busy, and trying to hang on to as much normality as I can. I’ve been working from home this week, and keeping in touch with colleagues remotely has been really helpful. My family, friends, neighbours and patients are a big source of motivation. Everyone is appreciating each other more, and taking time to pause and reflect. It’s been really important to manage my routine and self-care in order to not burn out during this period. Every time I chat with my friends or family via video call I feel more connected, and that helps me to carry on providing the same high quality therapy to my patients.
Lucy Smith
Speech and Language Therapist

Use WhatsApp Groups
We set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with everyday chit chat and work related issues with software and we all try and help as a group. For me personally I am on self-isolation for up to 12 weeks as my mum has issues and I have diabetes. It’s just knowing that even though I am not there in person, I am still being supported by my line manager and feel included. I just have to keep thinking it’s not forever, just a little while.
April Bostock
Pathway Co-Ordinator for Neurology

Keep to the same routine with getting up in the morning and getting ready for work (albeit you may dress differently in the home environment).

Make sure that you have a break at lunchtime.

Use MS Teams to make sure that you are in regular contact with your team and close work peers. Our team has a team brief at 9:00am every morning to go through the work streams and activities for the day with everyone that is working on that day.

Offer one-to-one support to those that you line manage either via MS Teams or the telephone when they need it.

Be prepared for the flexibility around change that is required when working virtually, especially in the current crisis, and support those staff that would generally find this difficult.
Jayne Middleman
Learning and Organisational Development Facilitator/People Development Lead

Our research consultant (Dr Carroll) has organised regular catch-up meetings (at least weekly) – 80% work related 20% general how are you; this has been appreciated for sure and possibly something that others should do.  Also, where possible, she makes zoom video calls rather than telephone calls for that extra keeping in touch. 
Anon

I put on ‘Calm my Dogs’ via Alexa and I found it was so soothing whilst I was working myself. It’s soothing classical music and worked a treat me and the dogs.
Sue Tuft
Personal Assistant to David Edwards

As a Department, IM&T were quite swift on getting our teams split up to maintain resilience as much as we could. Therefore we’ve all been dispersed for quite some time now and have a number of methods for staying connected and keeping a check on the welfare of our people.

We realised that a lot of our teams all work in different ways and, whilst we didn’t want to be too prescriptive about how it’s done, we wanted to ensure that all our managers were checking in on the welfare of their staff during these difficult times. Therefore we encouraged everyone to set up twice daily Teams calls that were purely about checking in and saying hello, not about operational stuff. We asked all our managers to invite their SMT link member, as well as Andy, to these calls, and they dip in and out when they can so that they are being seen by our teams on the ground.

Andy put the feelers out across the whole department and we created a quick spreadsheet to show who was doing what, which allowed us to pick up on areas where some more interaction might be needed. Andy and the SMT then focused their attention on these areas to see what they could do to make sure everyone was taking care of themselves and each other.

In terms of cross-team liaison, we have MS Teams chats within each team across the department, and anyone can send a message into another team’s chat – this is working really well for us as it imitates things like me popping over to service desk to ask a tech question.
Bryonie Brindley
IM&T Business Services Manager

 

Further reading

7 simple tips to tackle working from home

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/7-simple-tips-to-tackle-working-from-home/

Get Organized: 20 Tips for Working From Home

https://uk.pcmag.com/software/62410/get-organized-20-tips-for-working-from-home 

How to work from home: Pro tips from PCWorld’s editors

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3531932/how-to-work-from-home-during-the-coronavirus.html?page=2

Suddenly working at home? We’ve done it for 22 years—and have advice

https://arstechnica.com/staff/2020/03/suddenly-working-at-home-weve-done-it-for-22-years-and-have-advice/

Working from home is ruining your posture. Here’s how to fix it

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/working-from-home-posture-back-pain

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