In February of 2020, we installed our Tall Pink Gumboots signage outside our office space. We had been working there for roughly a year and were excited to finally put our bright pink gumboots up on the wall for passersby to see from the road. A month later, the country went into lockdown. Oh, the sad irony! Our team retreated to their homes to weather the storm and we’ve been working from home ever since.
All things considered, it’s been a successful and healthy work dynamic, despite the decision to give up our office space during the pandemic. At the end of 2020, we felt like we were starting to find our rhythm. At the end of 2021, we’ve learnt many valuable things about working from home remotely with our team while still staying connected and motivated. Here are just some of the things working from home in 2021 taught us:
1. Trust your team
Whether you’re the boss or the employee, without trust a healthy work from home team dynamic is impossible. Teamwork is about relying on your colleagues to do their part and making sure they can rely on you to do the same. While it might be tempting to implement a strict clocking-in schedule and work monitoring, a little bit of trust can go a long way when making your teammates feel motivated and independent.
2. Stay connected
At Tall Pink Gumboots, every Monday we take part in a WIFL – or ‘what I feel like’ – where we all get an opportunity to share about what’s been going on in our lives over the weekend and what our headspace looks like at the start of that week. Staying up to date on what’s going on in each others’ lives, the stressful parts and the good ones help us to work better together. (The occasional breakfast meetup doesn’t hurt either!)
3. Keep a routine
This is old hat advice, but as cliché as it might sound, it’s true: having a dedicated workspace where you regularly spend time throughout the workday on a consistent schedule helps you to stay motivated. Keeping a routine is the healthiest way to stay motivated and balance your time. It also helps you to clock off when work is done. Leave your work at your workspace once the workday is done!
4. Speak up when you’re feeling overwhelmed
The pandemic has been hard on all of us. And as much as we’ve done our best to find the silver lining and weather the storm, we all have moments when burnout hits. Our schedules and responsibilities can sometimes be turned upside down, leaving us feeling overwhelmed. And when that happens, it’s been essential for us to speak up so that we can help each other carry our loads together.
5. Give each other grace
You’ve heard it before, you’re probably sick of it, but we’re saying it anyway: These are unprecedented times (Sorry). Staying flexible as the world shifts and our situations change also means giving each other grace in the moments that we fail. Our team has gone through building and moving houses, serious surgery, the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, and all the everyday stresses of health, finances, and family on top of it. While getting the work done is important, so is giving each other grace and understanding that this has been a hard time for everyone.
So our last tip is not just one for working at home, but one we believe should be applied to all facets of our lives: Let’s all be a little kinder to each other. Though things are looking up and businesses are beginning to recover, there are still hard times ahead. One of the most important things that will get us through – not just as businesses but also as people – is kindness, empathy, and understanding.