It has been about two months since we were in our cozy little office in Kilbirnie Wellington, before Aotearoa went into lockdown. The structure of our working day didn’t change as we transitioned to working from home. What had contributed to our smooth transition were the tools we use daily. However, like every kiwi we too also had our own struggles adjusting, as you will soon find out. Here is a little insight of pre-COVID and what work from home looks like for our Auaha squad.
Working at Auaha
We start each day by doing a morning ramp-up. You might be thinking ‘what the heck is a morning ramp-up?’ Well, one thing it is NOT is ramping ourselves up to do the 25 push up challenge, even though it is for a good cause.
Our morning ramp-up helps our squad to start the day right by prioritising, being organised and it reinforces good habits across our team. What does that look like? It involves getting ready to log our time against jobs during the day, checking tasks in Monday.com (our project management tool), checking Slack and Outlook, respond and communicate messages to other team members.
To start the next day right, we end each day doing an evening shut down. We review all our messages and notifications across all the tools that we use. This will help us to get an idea of what the next day will look like for us.
Every Monday morning before we start our day, we have our weekly stand-ups at 10:00am for 30 minutes. Our stand-ups help us to understand each team member’s deadlines for the week. It helps our squad identify where the pressure points are from week to week, to ensure we’re all working towards the same outcome that contributes to strengthening Auaha.
To finish off the working week we complete our weekly shutdown that occurs every Friday. For our weekly shutdown we’re aiming for inbox zero, we delete items in the download folder or on the desktop, empty our recycling bin and ensure our computer and physical space is clean, ready for a new week. Once that is done, bring on the weekend!
Every fortnight we have event catch ups and team meetings. This is like another check-in point, to see our team is progressing and to bring ideas and goals to the table so we’re all on the same page.
Our quarterly planning meeting is done offsite, so we can have a thinking space that is separated from our working space. This allows us to be creative and come up with new and fresh ideas as we set 90-day goals for the next quarter.
Pre-COVID we were already working from home either 1 or 2 days a week. Thanks to Zoom if a team member was working offsite, they could simply video call in to a meeting. In conjunction with Zoom we also have Slack as our communication tool and Monday.com is our project management tool. These tools keep us all on the same page.
Our weekly, fortnightly and quarterly meetings are still key. Since transitioning to work from home, the only difference we’ve made is having three stand up meetings a week instead of one. It’s important for us to stay connected, see each other’s face and how we’re progressing with our tasks and deadlines.
So, when New Zealand went into lockdown, we were already prepared to work from home because of the flexibility and the tools we have; they allowed us to continue doing what we do best.
The struggle is real
You might think WOW we have it easy….great set up and systems. Well….we too had struggled and each week we always aim to be do better.
Whether it was trying to self-isolate from the fridge or from baking, exercising, getting to bed at a reasonable time, crawl out of bed earlier or not allowing yourself to chip away at work during the day and night! If you know what we’re talking about then you must be struggling with the flexibility and self-discipline as well.
We all now know the benefits of having a physical separation from work and home. Now at Level 2 people are slowly able to return to their office desk.
It has been a journey and an experience we have learnt from. Here are snippets of our teams’ journey and experience in the last two months of lock down.
I thought I was a pretty routine person with a decent doze of self-discipline. I initially thought that this working from home thing would be a breeze and really play into my introverted nature. That I could do all my meetings via Zoom instead of wasting an hour going to and from meetings – boy was that appealing.
But the struggle has been real! Every Monday I would start the week with a burst of energy and a clear routine, but by Wednesday the routine was non-existent, there were no boundaries around the hours I worked and the amount of exercise was pathetic.
I think I attended every meeting and virtual event that I thought was relevant, I spent waaaay too much time on social media and spent hours being unproductive, despite being sat at my computer for hours upon hours a day.
I think some part of me was in denial about the devastation that COVID-19 had imposed on my business and the other part of me was frantically trying to find solutions to pivot and keep the business going and keep my team employed.
Now that working from home is going to be permanent for the Auaha team I’m looking forward to the time when I can actually have an in-person meeting.
When the announcement was made – that in 48 hours Aotearoa would go into lockdown, I was currently working from Palmerston North. I had literally told my parents that I’m going to Wellington to pack up my room. Within 5 hours I had relocated to Palmerston North to care for my parents who are both in their mid-70s.
At first, I went into this new journey head strong and did what needed to be done. I didn’t really take the time to accept the new environment we were currently facing. So, the reality of the drastic changes COVID had on everyday life, work and our industry eventually sunk in.
There were days it was hard to be motivated and stay focused. Since I was not so productive during the day, I found myself chipping away at work during the night and weekends. What helped was having conversations with sisters that were going through the same struggles. So just knowing that this was probably something that everyone maybe struggling with, allowed me to be kinder to myself.
In unprecedented times there were days it did stretch my persistence and resilience. I might not have looked pretty like fireworks on New Years however, it forced me to reassess myself at the beginning of each day mentally, physically and spiritually and yes….not every day was a success story…and that is okay.
Currently I aim to have a well-balanced and structured approach and take each day minute by minute. That’s right…a lot can happen in a day so breaking it down to minutes. I’m also mindful of what I listen and watch so my thing right now is watching Crossfit games LOL which is NOT something I aim to compete in however, it is the mindset of an athlete I am intrigued with.
Moving forward to better days, you live, you learn and just keep trying to be better than you did yesterday.
Firstly, I can’t even believe it’s been two nearly two months of this new reality. It blows my mind that this is the new normal on a daily basis. But whether by my inherent nature, or maybe a skill I’ve learned along the way, I seem to be taking this all in my stride and in fact, am finding the many silver linings that have developed as a result. One thing I’ve certainly found out about myself during this time is that I’m amazing at adapting, but I’m horrible at baking.
Working from home wasn’t smooth sailing for me from the get-go. Yes, I had all the tools, gizmos and gadgets a gal could need to kick some business ass. But in the first couple weeks I had the attention span of an Ant. The overwhelming amount of information about the pandemic, what was happening to our Economy in particular our industry, the fear of the unknown, all manifested itself into me being able to get absolutely nothing accomplished during normal business hours.
Thankfully, things are mostly back to normal for me now, and I’ve made a conscious effort everyday to avoid the things that trigger this procrastinating behaviour. I remain optimistic about the baking skills, but not holding my breath.
I count my blessings on the daily and I’m thankful for the many zoom hang-outs, spending afternoons with my nephews learning and playing, and remaining connected while keeping distant. J xx