Some of the articles and blogs I write have a lot of prep and research beforehand, and some are impulsive - I just type what I think and, if you're really lucky, I might do a quick spell check afterwards.
This post, is an impulsive one, driven by a knock on the door from the postie. A parcel! Woopwoop.
Not so long ago, my missus got a new phone, and she drove me mad! For me, any new gadget must be opened immediately. I need to touch it, feel the weight, feel the smooth surfaces, and fumble the little buttons and dials.
3 days I waited... for 3 days, her new phone sat in its box on the dining room table. Despite my pleas, she just had no enthusiasm, no drive.
But if she doesn't know what's in the box, like the one that arrived today, suddenly she's intrigued... she brought me a Stanley blade to open it, and inspected the postage stamp and manufacturers sticker, trying to unravel the mystery that was the box.
"What's this got to do with recruitment, business, or IDPP?" I hear you ask. Well...what's in the box is more than the sum of its parts, and that's important, because it leads me to a question that I've been asked a bunch, and now I have another answer to add to my previous answers...
What are the teams at IDPP doing to weather months of isolation?
As a recruitment company, we spend a lot of time on the phone. Collectively, we can rack up thousands of hours. We are not so big on the KPI driven environment, but we understand that communication is key to success, so the numbers "just kinda happen"**.
But we all know that, when it comes to sales, we are far more effective when face to face - something that just isn't possible right now. Another area in which face to face communication is king, is internally. As we are not in the office, we've relied on Teams to simulate the office environment, the support, the laughs, the general comradery.
We get to see each other’s faces, and if nothing else we (read "I") can take some comfort in knowing that it's not just my hair that's overgrown like Seattle in The Last of Us Part II.
Regular check-ins with Line Managers
Again, this is something we are doing via teams, but the topics discussed in these conversations are usually person or function specific. We look at individual achievements, assess data, identify trends, and trial new ways to make our jobs more productive, more successful, or more enjoyable.
And that's arguable the most important aspect - if we are not enjoying ourselves as we work, the strain on our mental health is unacceptable. Sure, there's evidence to suggest that under-motivated, unhappy employees produce inferior results, but that's not the point.
The point is, we want our employees to be safe and happy. Period. And having these regular check ins allows us to support one another (it goes up the chain as well as down, managers are humans too!) and help each other through any tough times, work-related or otherwise.
This is only possible if we have...
Complete honesty regarding our struggles
I've been very honest with my colleagues about the struggles that I have personally faced when working from home. I mention "these four walls" and "staring at excel documents" on a regular basis, because it can feel very lonely and isolated. I guess that's why it's called isolation...
I've had days when I have absolutely ZERO motivation to work. Maybe I didn't sleep well, maybe I've burned out a little, maybe it's too hot, maybe I don't know the reason but I just can't find the energy to complete the tasks I had planned for the day.
I console myself because I know that I regularly work through lunch (perhaps I shouldn't be doing that?) and work later into the evening than if I were office based and had to consider the commute home. When you weigh it up (and I have), there's defniitely more time spent at my desk working than I would normally do in the office.
But these feelings and barriers are nothing to be ashamed of, and sometimes they don't even need to be "fixed" - sometimes just getting it off your chest, and having someone else say "actually, I feel a bit lonely also" is enough to make you feel less lonely.
Tracking of progress, aiming for targets
A key element of office life that I particularly miss is the healthy competition. Who has the higher talk time for the day? Who has the most interviews? Who has the best speculative candidate?
It feels as though we are now less focus on competition within our teams, as we are competing against the version of ourselves that existed yesterday. I haven’t figured out why that is, if I'm being completely honest - but the nature of the game means that we are self-assessing, identifying potential opportunities for improvement, and then ACTIONING THEM! This, good people, is how we measure and facilitate progress!
I've actually lost a little weight since being locked down - so I've been told (which is always lovely to hear). I haven't been trying to, but I have been exercising more. My fiancé and I bought bicycles, we make more of an effort to go for long walks, and we've even got pedometers - something I thought was a little silly before I actually used one.
I'm now exercising more than I was when office based, and there are two things I've done to motivate me to continue this.
Firstly, I've taken up filmmaking. Nothing wonderful, mostly just short compilations of home or family videos that will allow me to hone my video editing skills. If you have no objection to a little shameless self-promotion, check out the link at the bottom of these article to my YouTube channel.
I mention the filming because it gives me a great excuse to get out the house and exercise, without realising I'm doing it, because I have another goal. This applies to my second recent motivational tool...
Pokémon Go - yes, that's right! I've been relying on Pokémon Go to give me an excuse to go for a walk. Need to hatch those eggs, catch those Pokémon, and become the ultimate... healthy person. If I become a Pokémon Master along the way, so be it.
But what's in the box?
It's a fair question, and here's the answer.
One of our amazing colleagues, Sarb Patel, has bought (and had shipped) boxes of the most mouth-watering, gooey, equal parts soft and crumbly, lick your lips brownies.
Yes, this completely goes against my healthy points mentioned thus far, but to know that people like Sarb are thinking of you, and making the effort to not just check in but to put a smile on your face (which she has!), is a huge boost for the old morale.
So, how are we handling isolation?
The only way we know will work - Together!
**That's actually not true, the numbers don't "just kinda happen", they're a result of strong market knowledge, a strong work ethic, and a lot of hard work and effort on everyone's part. #teamappreciation