Blog / Back to Normal… Almost – TRINUS Staff Return to Office as Pandemic Controls are Eased
The parking lot is full. The office is noisy. The phone is ringing. The drop-in meetings and impromptu chats have started again.
TRINUS staff returned to the office this week, as the province relaxed some Pandemic restrictions. It was great to see people in person rather than at the end of a webcam in a Teams meeting. To be sure, we were practicing Social Distancing, and there’s an extra air of caution; we’re all still a little nervous…
Our Project Team is also getting into the field, as we catch up on delayed onsite projects and visitations. And many clients are calling about something other than Pandemic-related or emergency IT services.
I expect that many businesses, municipalities and organizations in general are experiencing the same conditions. How will you deal with a resumption of normal services and staff interactions? At TRINUS, it’s too early for an in-depth retrospective on lessons learned or assessing the impact on our operations; both positive and negative. But some things are immediately apparent.
Our operations were designed for maximum efficiency when most staff were in a single office. Meetings, the dynamic redistribution of workload, exchanging tech ideas, and troubleshooting, all worked better under one roof. Work From Home (WFH) slowed our processes, which hampered our response times and efficiency. As a result, we are re-designing some workflows and implementing some tech tools to improve communication; mostly centered around Microsoft Teams.
Some staff thrived in the WFH habitat, while others did not. It had less to do with personal preference or temperament, and more to do with the type of work. For example, to solve difficult tech problems, in-depth research needs to be combined with focused concentration and thought, which is difficult to achieve in a dynamic workplace. Likewise, it’s common for a tech to have four, five, or more processes underway for multiple clients simultaneously, especially when updating servers or network devices. Distractions can lead to mistakes and require the process to be redone.
Contrast that with HelpDesk activities that often require quick interaction with colleagues who have different experiences with specific problems. HelpDesk functions better with a common pool of techs working within close proximity.
Talking is faster than typing, especially when more than two people are involved. We experimented with various communication methods when in full WFH mode. But speed and clarity always improved when we spoke rather than exchanged texts, chats, or Emails. We also noticed a vast improvement in WFH spoken communication when we implemented good noise-cancelling headphones with high quality built-in mics. I find myself calling a colleague much more often than before COVID-19. But the ultimate in communication is still the in-person meeting. We had our 1st in-office meeting with my team this week and we seemed to accomplish more in 10 minutes than 30 or 40 minutes of video conference calling.
Enhanced dynamic interaction is facilitated when you can pickup on subtle visual queues; you just “sense” when someone wants to speak, and so you give way and listen. Thus, we are trying to schedule our team meetings for in-office times.
We have some staff that are making the transition to permanent WFH status, or at least some hybrid of WFH and in-office work. The criteria for qualifying for WFH status is a combination of temperament, WFH environment, and duties. It should be a benefit for the staff member, as well as TRINUS. However, even dedicated WFH staff will have a regular and scheduled presence in the office.
Finally, as part of a Virtual Conference presentation in mid-June, we composed a 42-minute video of 8 tips and recommendations to enhance the WFH experience. Over the summer months we will present a short video segment each week that will highlight a specific WFH topic. I hope you will stay tuned, as we try to make WFH stress-free for you and your staff members.
I’m sure you’ll draw your own conclusions on WFH and how you might permanently integrate it into your operations for selected staff. I’d like to hear about your experiences, both good & bad. Please Email me.