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Working Remotely – A Weekly Retrospective: One Year Later!

I hope you are all doing well and have been staying safe for this past year.  I wanted to write a follow up at this point to reflect on where things started, and where we are at one year later. 

 

How did this start again? 

It was almost a year ago to this day (as of writing this article) that I received an email from the HR department of my company telling everyone that we needed to work from home.  We were told to take everything we need to work from home off our desks at the office by the end of the week.  When I received this notification, I had already been working from home for the week for personal reasons that week and while I had a hunch that I would be at home for some time.  I had no idea that we would still be at home a year later. 

 

Working from home will be awesome! Right? 

Shortly after work from home started, there was a divide at my company.  There were a number of people who had always been remote and saw no difference.   There were some who embraced remote culture and were happy to be at home and start doing meeting remotely as well as making more regular use of communication tools like Slack.   However, there were also a number of people who found it extremely difficult to move to remote working.  Not being able to have face to face conversation or to try around to ask a question felt like a drastic reduction in productivity. 

A week into work from home, I started the first article of this series.   I kept that series running for seventeen weeks where I shared the things my wife and I were doing to evolve and adapt out house to a work from home environment. 

So, what’s happened since? 

I ended this series of articles when I felt it wasn’t providing any further value.  Things were getting better and we thought we might see the end of work from home within a couple of months.  In my part of the world that was a little pre-mature as I’m still working from home many months later. 

As of July of 2020, we were able to send our son back to daycare, and we opted to do so because we felt our daycare was taking all the right precautions and that has continued to be going extremely well.  This also has allowed my wife and I to devote a full work day to working without needing to split our attention between work and caring for our son. 

Shortly after daycare opening, I found myself struggling with unrealistic expectations from my company.  We didn’t have enough staff to handle all the work and it began to become “expected” for people to work evenings and weekend without proper compensation for this extra effort.  After a while I found this to be too much stress on myself and my family, that I made the tough decision to find a new job. 

Onboarding during the pandemic was a very interesting experience.  My new company did a wonderful job of making sure that everyone felt supported.  My manager and fellow team mates have been very warm, accepting and understanding of personal situations.  Bonus points, I’m encouraged to continue to be involved in the Atlassian Community. 

 

Where are we today? 

If I were to tell my past self where I would be a year from now, I don’t know that he would 100% believe me.  However, I have managed to find a good working routine from home.  My son is still going to daycare.  We have adapted to our current situation, and while we aren’t back to any sort of “normal”, we are doing our best with this situation. 

 

I hope everyone has managed to stay safe, adapt, and continue to find things that give you joy in these continued strange times!

13 comments

Dave Liao Community Leader Apr 05, 2021

@Jimmy Seddon - definitely need to read the earlier segments of your series.

Also, glad to hear you're at a company that respects your time! 💪

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Time flies, @Jimmy Seddon! I'm sad I missed your article when published, but I'm happy how all these changes turned well for you and resulted in unexpected new (wolf)challenges.

Thank you for wrapping this up! 

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Kevin Johnson Community Leader Apr 27, 2021

@Jimmy Seddon Inspired by your decision-making skill to take a strong move in switching company in spite of this pandemic situation. Hope you're doing well now.

Cheers, Kevin.

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carolyn french Community Leader May 03, 2021

I appreciated reading your retros throughout the weeks, with your honesty, and starting a new job during the pandemic isn't a cakewalk either. So glad your new job encourages you to be on Community- Community gains a lot from having you here.

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I was working for a company that already had a remote working culture because they were small and highly distributed. Stress levels went through the roof with covid because it was hard to get meetings with people before, but became impossible after everyone started working permanently from home.

I now have a fabulous work environment, where remote works well. But there are some situations / companies / cultures / work types that really do require face to face, but I'm sure that remote working is now here to stay for many.

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Dave Liao Community Leader May 17, 2021

@Linda Milne_Togetha Group_ - interesting, you're saying stress went up because it was impossible to get in-person meetings, or meetings in general?

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@Dave Liaoboth. Pre-covid people would schedule days in the office for meetings and face to face time, the other days would need to be teleconference meetings. It was hard enough to get time with people as it was. Chat was available, but not really used effectively.

But post-covid people were in back to back meetings all day, everyday - the only way you had a chance of getting any time with anyone was to book a meeting, but meetings were regularly cancelled or rescheduled. So people were strung out because they couldn't get time with the people they needed to talk to, and couldn't get stuff done.

Now that I look back on it, it was pretty horrendous. Remote working for them was a necessity, but it didn't match the company culture.

Much happier where I am now.

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Dave Liao Community Leader May 18, 2021

@Linda Milne_Togetha Group_ - woohoo!

Yeah, a lot of meeting etiquette has (by necessity) improved during this pandemic. Of course, the better a company improves, the better it will perform in the market 💪

@Linda Milne_Togetha Group_ what do you mean by post covid exactly? we are still stuck in there :( 

Yes, sadly @Gonzalo Vásquez  we are still in the thick of it, with no end in sight - new lockdowns in AU, hardly anyone vaccinated, international boarders shut both in-coming and out-going. So, no, didn't mean after covid is done with, just meant the pre-covid world vs the covid world.

😢

Like Jimmy Seddon likes this

Some US based employers are pushing to get people back in the office.  I don't think this is a post-Covid world yet, and thankfully my management agrees (at least for the time being)  We're good working remote at least for now.  I hope it stays that way even after things return to whatever normal is going to look like.

Like Jimmy Seddon likes this

The key difference I have noticed after a while of doing remote work is the ease with which online meetings can yield better results. If before the meetings and stand-ups felt bland and difficult to actively pay attention to, now they feel a lot more like in-person meetings. People are more keen on talking and participating in the conversation, which is the direct opposite of the dead silence at the start of remote work. Even after almost two years since the first remote work has been started, I still see improvements in approaches to meetings and how people find ways of improving interactions to keep up the team spirit. There were also new ideas in finding ways to have people in the company talk on non-work topics to become more familiar. There are definitely more ways to make most of the remote work and I look forward to finding out what they are.

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