As a HR Manager I know how important it is to offer flexible working options within a workplace, as this is certainly important to the staff.
Before we were hit with the outbreak of COVID-19, we were working our way through the testing phase of implementing working from home as an ongoing option for staff as part of providing further flexibility within our organisation.
Well it’s safe to say that full implementation had to be significantly fast tracked!
I’ve always liked the thought of working from home. Having the choice to occasionally have a day out of the office environment. Having the opportunity to work in my comfy clothes, distraction free, with the ability to stay focused on a task and with minimal interruptions. However the current situation of working from home is certainly not what I had in mind when implementing our new policy and neither did any of my colleagues.
“The current situation of working from home is certainly not what I had in mind”
I knew straight away that some of the staff would cope better than others when forced to socially isolate from their peers and work mates and be out of the structured office environment. Being a bright and bubbly conversationalist myself, I knew it was going to be a challenge even for me.
My immediate focus was for our Strategem employees to feel respected and connected during this period of time. We didn’t know how long we would be in this situation initially and as time continues to pass, staying connected becomes even more important.
My day now looks a lot different than it did pre coronavirus. I am finding at least 60% of my day is engaging in conversations with staff. Conversations that range from quick check in chats to lengthy discussions like providing advice around coping mechanisms and balancing work and home schooling! Some of these conversations happen via phone, some via chat and some via Zoom. But every single one of these discussions are so important.
Personally, I cannot wait to get back into the office and be surrounded by people again. People who I enjoy sharing my life with and people that I look forward to seeing each day. If this experience has highlighted one thing for me as a Leader, it is the reinforcement of how important and powerful conversations can be.
I’m lucky to be sharing this isolation period in a happy home with my husband, who is also working from home and my teenage son who is home schooling. This family time has actually been very precious to me. I am definitely not taking for granted what I have.
I am grateful to be in a position where I can provide ongoing daily support to my fellow colleagues and can continue to offer this through conversations.
It is an honor and a privilege to help them cope with this unique situation and assist them in making it through to the other side, happy, healthy and safe.
Katrina Ray, Human Resources and Project Manager, Strategem