Staying motivated, productive and connected to your team when everyone is working from home present many new challenges. Here’s what four leaders from different industries are doing to thrive during lockdown.
Make virtual connections
Amanda Dambuza, Chief Executive Officer of Uyandiswa
‘One of my most significant realisations has been the power of physical connectedness. We used to take walking over to a co-worker’s desk and sharing a joke for granted, and the lockdown has been a lesson in appreciating that invaluable engagement.
‘My team and I usually have a flexible working schedule, but the lockdown has highlighted the importance of having the right tools when you work from home. Many of us also take data for granted, but it is an added financial burden for many workers. Businesses must therefore ensure that staff is well equipped with the right software to connect seamlessly.
‘WhatsApp and Zoom keep my team and me connected for work, but also support our virtual social sessions during which we share a glass of wine, support one another and take a break from work. This too shall pass, and we have to make sure that our bond will still be strong when it does.’
Keep up the banter – and boundaries
Aidan Blundell, Head of SEO at iProspect
‘Collaboration is a big part of the work I do – it keeps teams motivated and on track to achieve their deliverables. Since the usual office dynamic is missing from our day, making deliberate contact to engage in light-hearted conversation is important. I start and end the day with a team catch-up so that everyone knows what they need to do and how they are being supported, and can ask for assistance, if they need it.
‘On the occasions I have worked from home in the past, I have been more productive because there are fewer distractions than at the office. However, working from home every day has, at times, led to dips in concentration and productivity. Taking regular breaks and stepping away from my desk help to refocus my mind.
‘Maintaining a healthy work-life balance isn’t easy, especially now when we’re working from home and feel like you always have to be accessible to clients, but it’s important to create healthy boundaries. This is a key learning I’m going to focus on and take with me after the lockdown.’
Professor Liesl Zühlke, paediatric cardiologist, research and global health advocate, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
‘This is an unusual time for anyone working in the health industry. My research team is working from home, but I’m still seeing patients, conducting Covid-19 testing on a volunteer basis and working from home. All people work differently. Some people on my team enjoy working on their own, so I let them get on with it, and others miss interaction and connection, so it was better to get two or three people to work on a similar project, and have them thrash it out collaboratively.
‘It's easier to get distracted by home things at my home office, but it’s quieter and lonelier at my work office. I enjoy the opportunity to incorporate exercise into my day when I’m at home and that’s something I am keen to retain once the lockdown has ended.
‘Connecting with our various teams is important and I like to have the video on so that we get a sense of physical presence. I also try to ensure that everyone is on some kind of Covid-related project, whether making face masks, reaching out to others or volunteering, so that everyone can feel connected to the bigger picture.’
‘I’m going to be more prudent – after the lockdown – and remember that material things are transient, but that quality service is invaluable to a client. What people will value most after we get through this crisis is authenticity.’ – Gavin Wildschutt-Prins
Focus on quality
Gavin Wildschutt-Prins, MD of Red Dot Marketing and Communications
‘Before lockdown, I had this idea that I could be a little more casual around the house, but I quickly realised that as a business owner, I had to maintain a level of professionalism at all times. While clients give you more latitude if the dog barks or a child runs into the room, it’s still important that they know their business is safe with you.
‘I am very social by nature and in the PR and events field you have to get out there and shake people’s hands, but that’s not an option right now and I miss it. People around the world are being more creative about connecting, whether that means WhatsApp, Zoom or even a phone call to reach out.
‘It might be surprising, but I’m really saving money. I often took clients to lunch, bought expensive gifts and drove great distances to have a meeting at an upmarket restaurant.
I’m going to be more prudent after the lockdown and remember that material things are transient, but quality service is invaluable to a client. What people will value most after we get through this crisis is authenticity.’
Group editor: Health, John Brown South Africa