Lessons learned from Sedex China after 10-weeks of lock down
The Sedex China team has been working from home for almost two months, following the closure of our Shanghai office just after the Chinese New Year holiday in January 2020.
Our marketing and communications manager in China, Tony Wang, shares some advice and insight for working through a lockdown.
Strong internal communication is essential
Efficient and effective internal communications and processes to support this is the first and most important step for anyone working remotely, given the lack of face-to-face discussion.
The China team uses local social communication software for daily communication, such as WeChat and QQ, which meet the needs of timely text, voice and video calls. We can then communicate with any team members or have meetings anytime, anywhere. We also use Webex which links us with Sedex teams globally.
Planning is key. Before every meeting, we must think about how many people will be there and does everybody need to be there. While working from home there is an urge to over communicate and your working day can quickly become filled with video calls.
Additionally, it’s helpful to have regular departmental or cross-departmental online meetings where team members can speak freely. That way, we can avoid repetition, and follow up and supervise work progress with team members.
Each week, everyone provides a summary of what they’re working on, helping to better organise their work for the coming week.
Tony’s top tip: One-on-one communication tends to be more direct and efficient than group communication – try to do this as much as possible.
Working from home can mean disruptions – prepare to be more flexible with time management
One of the downsides of working from home is that, unlike the office, you’re constantly disturbed – family members, children or even your beloved pets. So how can we reasonably avoid such problems?
Besides the regular commute, we should recognise the peculiarities of working from home. These interruptions are inevitable, so at home we need to adopt a more flexible way of working. Reschedule your workday and your life at home to make sure you have adequate time for both. Try to be as efficient as possible during work hours so you can enjoy spending time with your family and pets when needed. Starting work earlier, to have more regular breaks during the day can actually be more productive.
Tony’s top tip: You never know if this “distraction” will bring new inspirations to your work.
Plan more for communications with customers and stakeholders
Maintaining communication with customers and stakeholders is vital during these times, to uphold high levels of customer service.
Our member services team do a great job of this, managing to transfer all calls to the mobile phones of team members. You must be more organised than usual, plan logistically and have contact information at hand. It doesn’t always work as smoothly as in the office, but there has been no interruption to service during the outbreak, which is really encouraging.
Tony’s top tip: Making an appointment works better than an unscheduled call and gives both parties enough time to make the necessary preparations.
Take care of your mental health and your colleagues’ mental health
No one is prepared for or unaffected by the sudden outbreak of a pandemic. More days at home can lead to anxiety. Our personal team plays an important role in helping to manage each others’ well-being.
It is very necessary to regularly console and care for the physical and mental health of employees. We need to ensure that employees can continue to work and live in good health during the outbreak. I recommend doing things such as exercising regularly (ensuring social distancing measures if and when leaving the house), speaking regularly to each other over the phone and on email, and acknowledging that it’s OK to feel uncertain and we are all in this together. These all make people feel geniality while encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Tony’s top tip: Employees feeling the warmth and sense of belonging of the work family can have a very positive impact during this time.
Set out weekly tasks and monthly goals
The outbreak has indeed disrupted the working rhythm and goals of the team, so it’s helpful to adjust work goals and performance targets for team members. It was the first thing that team members did when they first started working from home. Our team collectively set out goals each week, to help us stay focused and motivated.
We looked at what business goals needed to be re-prioritised for the yearly quarter– what work could be sped up, versus slowed down. Having specific personal goals and team goals in specific periods have really helped us effectively progress our work. Our team and workload are guided by these quarterly goals.
Tony’s top tip: We probably won’t be able to achieve all our original goals due to the pandemic, but it important not to be discouraged. New ventures have unexpected positive impacts.
“Staying apart is the best way to stay united in this specific time”.