BY Louisa Nicholson

“Please take your laptops home with you this evening, as the office will now remain closed until further notice.”

Not exactly the way any of us imagined 2020 starting. Four weeks into working remotely, we find ourselves settling into our ‘new normal’ amidst a global health emergency, economic shock and near unprecedented societal shutdown.

Based in the UK and unable to leave the house for anything but essential travel, we must find ways to keep ourselves sane, healthy and happy. And yet, despite the unusual circumstances, at Right Formula we seem to have found ourselves a natural rhythm as a team. We have adapted well to our new normal.

FINDING OUR GROOVE

Even though we’re now working from 55 different offices across the UK, in some ways we’ve never been more together. Day one of social distancing brought the rebirth of our company-wide WhatsApp group, which from its creation has provided us with an abundant supply of topical memes and videos to keep our spirits lifted during these tough times. This has been swiftly followed by the emergence of other remote working-friendly tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

And then of course there is the ‘virtual tea break’. Developing simultaneously across Right Formula account teams, the tea break has become an important part of our virtual office life. Taking 15 minutes out of your morning and afternoon to catch up with your team has become a great way to break up each day and keep our energy levels high – and work ever-more productively.

TAKING IT IN OUR STRIDE

Currently mourning the temporary loss of live sport and the ability to play in weekly five-a-side football matches, go to the gym or even play a round of golf, we’ve had to substitute these luxuries with other hobbies to help us battle through the situation. One of our account leads has been working her way through a series of free home workout videos, whilst another has been using her spare time at home to train with her younger brother in the garden.

We’re also having to focus on our mental wellbeing during this time. One of the ways we can maintain a routine while keeping active and de-stressing is in our ‘commute’. Try taking the opportunity to escape your house and increase your step count by ‘walking to or from work’. One of our team, for example, is using the early mornings to get some much-needed fresh air and a bit of spring sunshine before each day in the home office.

We’ve had to improvise and adapt to overcome challenges that working from home brings, whether it’s taking video calls in unusual locations because of poor WiFi connection or perching in quiet places around the house to find peace away from the desk. We have created home office spaces that encourage us to focus, energise and separate us from our non-office life; fashioning our version of ‘normal’ in this abnormal situation we find ourselves.

 

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

Under normal circumstances, on a Friday afternoon after work you would hear a cowbell ring out across the office and witness a flood of thirsty staff making their way downstairs to grab a beer and catch up. It’s a time for us to share ideas and learnings but most importantly relax with each other and have a bit of fun. So why change? We’ve been dialling in to a company-wide Zoom call each Friday after work, to share a drink and have a laugh together. Times like these are much needed given the absence of usual social interaction.

Making the shift to a ‘more is less’ approach to communication, we are compensating for the lack of face to face contact. Now publishing our temporarily rebranded internal newsletter “Cabin Fever Weekly” every Friday, we’ve also launched an internal podcast, “Deserted Office Desks”, focusing on a new colleague each week to talk through their favourite records and stories. It’s a great way for us to learn a bit more about each other even though we’re apart. 

IN CLOSING

The nature of our industry means we must be able to shift gears quickly and diversify in any situation. The resilience we’ve seen from every single team member and the innovation and agility they have demonstrated to rise to this challenge is something we are incredibly proud of.

To say that this is a strange situation would be an understatement, and the lack of certainty on how long the world will have to ride this out is stressful and can be upsetting. For however long it may be, it’s certainly not business as usual, but together, we are taking it all in our stride. 

It has become our new normal – for now at least.