Remote Stories: Our Working from Home Experiences

April is known as “stress awareness month” – and between the global pandemic, and cautionary measures of a lockdown, there’s more reason to mind your personal and mental health. As a team, we have faced many challenges while in lockdown but have learned to overcome them, regardless.

In honour of the end of stress awareness month, the Octagon Professional’s team has shared some of their personal experiences living in lockdown during this global pandemic.

New to Remote Team Management

When the Dutch government asked business to close their offices and introduced the 1,5m restriction, our first challenge was to figure out how to continue business as usual with the entire team working from home. What I missed most was the informal –colleague to colleague- conversations that cannot take place the traditional way. The lack of feedback and the creative process that usually takes place when the team can be together physically. The second challenge is to estimate the impact of the virus on our business and revenue and the third challenge is how to overcome the sudden and radical change.

I think the most important factor to continue business, is to create transparency amongst the team. I host weekly virtual meetings for the Octagon team to keep colleagues up to date about the virus, but also about the business. New deals, new opportunities, new challenges —  are all shared. Another point is to make sure infrastructure and equipment are working properly to facilitate all the online meetings and chats. Further, I prioritize showing management commitment and providing individual support when needed. Last but not least, I make sure to offer similar support and transparency about our business to our clients in order to avoid any surprises.

Joost,
Sales Manager


Battling Lifestyle Restrictions

I bought a yoga mat and used my creativity with a chair and a water jerrycan to exercise. Every Sunday at 11.00 AM I follow the Octagon Fit webinar training by Nick Kloosterman. I bought three puzzles of 3000 pieces to keep me going and upgraded my internet subscription. I have been using video calling as a standard and so far after the adaption period, it is here to stay. I used and I am using: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, also tried the new 8 person WhatsApp video calling feature and they are all good communication tools.

I have been in the office for the last six years, so suddenly working alone in my apartment felt very different. My life before the virus existed out of working, doing sports and in the weekends I always spend time with family and friends. The challenge is and was to keep my mindset balanced during this period and adapt to the new situation. Once you get your “space“ organized and adapt to your new work environment; the main challenge is the isolation, keeping your activity levels up and personal contact which became non-existent. I must say there were many moments that I felt lonely, but then I just started video calling. It’s all about getting through this period, so isolating as much as possible is the focus since there is always light at the end of the tunnel!

Andreas,
Managing Director


Extrovert in Crisis

Working from home is a challenge if you have a lazy dog like I do. She’s always hanging around, taking naps, and taking up space… It’s not easy when you have to be sitting at your desk 😊 She’s great company, but the lack of regular social interaction was really getting to me.

Whenever I feel myself getting my spirits down… I always think about all the people that are out there working so we can have a comfortable life with everything we need. It’s all a matter of perspective. We just need to be home, right?

Having a good team helps too! We still have our birthday parties and our weekly meetings. These kinds of events at work really helped me remember normal. If you’re struggling as an extrovert right now, I would advise you to keep calling your friends, coworkers, and family every day. Just to chat about life!

Sara,
Recruitment & HR


Remote Onboarding Challenge

I started at Octagon Professionals March 02, 2020. On March 16, 2020 – Octagon Professionals started asking all non-essential office staff (such as myself) to work from home as much as possible. At the time we were asked to work from home, I had exactly 8 full days of work under my belt. At first, I was pretty stressed! I had so many questions – How will I build trust with my colleagues? How do I create a good impression in the coming weeks? What can I do to build a routine for when we go back to work?

What worked best for me was being proactive about getting facetime (zoomtime?) with my new colleagues as much as possible. Unfortunately for them, that meant scheduling more meetings than usual! At the start, I would request meetings just for asking questions about the company and their role. Once I got down to work, it really helped me to schedule follow-up meetings after any conversation with colleagues. Even if nobody had an update or needed support, those were the times I got to know my colleagues a little better!

Alex,
Marketing


 Struggling Student

I work at Octagon Professionals as an HR intern. Usually, I work part-time in the office, and part-time on my studies. The lockdown made me nervous about my education and learning path at Octagon. It was already difficult enough to build relationships with my colleagues, learn the process and tasks as a student and working only part-time …. Imagine having to work from home where you didn’t have the direct contact for your questions and concerns!

It’s still a struggle, but it’s not all bad. Without anyone looking over my shoulder, I feel I have become more self-sufficient and disciplined in my workday. The most helpful thing I did was to still get up at the same time, shower and get dressed like I would for the office, sit at my dining table that I changed into a working space, and turn on that camera in the meetings. I believe that putting on the camera gives you a bit more the feeling of contact and connection with your colleague or the person you are speaking to.

Estefany,
HR Generalist Intern


Career parent turned “stay-at-home”

The biggest challenge for me these past months was managing my workload from home with 2 young children who constantly demanded my attention. Sometimes, it felt like I was working 3 jobs and failing at all of them. After a few days, I realized that this is not a sustainable way of life considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic – and things are far from normal.

My partner’s job is demanding more from him during this time, therefore fairly dividing childcare responsibilities wasn’t always possible. I needed to adjust. I made some changes such as adjusting my expectations and my colleagues’ expectations about what I can and cannot achieve in these circumstances, asking for help, that I got plenty of — thanks to my great team — and adapting my work routine (sometimes this means working late into the night, or squeezing in as many calls as I can during naptime).

What really helped was connecting with friends, family, and colleagues frequently and checking up on each other. Basic human connection is the most important thing that keeps you going in these unnatural and stressful circumstances.

Recruitment Specialist at Octagon Professionals


Intern in Isolation

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, my university closed and my company Octagon Professionals encouraged employees to work from home as much as possible. My roommate, originally from Poland, flew back home and left me the entire apartment to myself. Unlimited freedom seemed ideal for me at first! But after some time, I realized that translating my regular nine-to-five into my home-sweet-home will not be smooth sailing.

All day, every day, I was surrounded by tantalizing distractions with no restrictions… and some bad habits took hold. I’d need a stack of absolutely massive bangers just to jump-start my brain when I can’t justify making another batch of chicken nuggets, or dipping into my jackfruit chips again. After the initial novelty wore off, I really started feeling isolated and unproductive.

To keep me on track, I made schedules and to-do lists for myself. I created a reward system, in which I can get myself some treats after the tasks is finished. Although the work culture is not the same with remote working, I still keep myself connected with my colleagues. I also find myself to be more creative and productive in other ways. I read more and seek out fresh ideas. I take time and reach out to my family and friends across the globe more than I used to. In the end, I think I’m fighting it well and training myself to be more efficient during this quarantine situation.

Jane,
Content Marketing Intern

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