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The Virtual World

The office team like many across the country, the world in fact, moved out of their familiar office environment and routines and set up an offices at home in March, just as the COVID lockdown was beginning. We were surprisingly well equipped it seems to do this having spent a considerable amount of time and effort moving to mainly cloud based systems over the previous 18 months, which essentially mean that we can work from anywhere, who knew we would have had to test whether the theory really worked in practice. Our main stumbling blocks were more about ensuring that the hardware we were working with was up to the task and perhaps most importantly that we were too.

We have for many years, been supported on an IT front by another local company, ES Systems, and without their help and support we wouldn’t have got the hardware we needed so quickly and everything set up to meet our quirky and personal requirements. I suspect we drove them a little potty in the process.

Working from home requires not only a new discipline, but having a suitable workspace that you can either physically or emotionally distance yourself from the rest of your home life. One of our biggest challenges was to find a desk for Hayley, we had 4 or it might have been 5 attempts at securing one, most of the time we were advised on the day that the order had been cancelled. Ultimately, Hayley got quite excited one day when a parcel force man rang the doorbell, only to discover he was in fact delivering not the desk, but the care leaflet for the desk, which itself was nowhere to be seen. Desks for homeworking were the equivalent of the loo roll crisis facing ordinary shoppers it seemed. You will be relieved to hear that we weathered this crisis too, as the desk appeared and co-ordinates nicely with the new home office. The other challenge was getting used to your new work colleagues be they partners, dogs, cats or children, both parties seeing the other in a whole new light, not to mention coordinating lunchbreaks and virtual meeting room clashes!

Working from home is quite intense, and we tried to put into place set coffee breaks and our normal working structures and routines and to be disciplined about sticking to them. It helps hugely to ensure that you feel physically as though you are going to work and finishing work, the routine has been important not only psychologically, but also productively as you know when you need to be focused on the job in hand. Some might say it is a bizarre that you still look forward to a weekend, even though you have been at home all week, to my mind it means that you really have been working from home and not just being at home working!

We have had to adopt new ways of communicating too, there is no sharing of information over the computer screen, but again there are so many different ways to communicate, the challenge has been working out what works for us. Whilst ensuring that we have put into place procedures that help safeguard against missing or dealing with the same thing several times over as just one example. We now have a daily virtual meetings on Teams, which has become an important part of our day, allowing us to share information, participate in discussion and really work as a team, it also allows us to have a general catch about life under lockdown. As a team we are all having hair crises, but only one of us looks much better than the others under lockdown!

I am personally very proud of our team and the way we have adapted to this new world of working from home, and hopefully the outside world hasn’t noticed any difference or if they have it has been a positive experience. It isn’t a way of working that we would like to continue into the longer term, as there is still a lot to be said for physically going to a workplace and I/ we believe that to be at your most effective as a team you do need a physical presence if not all at least some of the time. This isn’t a discovery just on a professional level, we are all missing the physical presence of our friends and family despite the increase in virtual communication. We have also learnt we are adaptable and we can move with the times and it has focused our minds on making some improvements and adjustments to our method of working to improve ourselves and Primary Locums going forwards, that might not have crossed our minds prior to COVID 19. Stay safe

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