Working from home just doesn’t feel the same as working at the office
The year 2020 has been completely different from what anyone expected. The coronavirus situation forced us to stay home for the whole spring and the recommendation to work from home continues in most countries. But there is a lot of good in this situation too. It has made us realize how much we need each other and how important our colleagues are for our efficiency and wellbeing.
The best thing about being a community manager is the community. I love being around people and learning new things from them. The recommendation to work from home has limited the days that people use their office space and I haven’t seen a lot of UMA members since March. And the fact is that I have missed them a lot!
Due to the recommendation to stay home, April, May, June and July were quiet in both UMA and Helsinki City centre. People stayed at home and there were only me and a couple of other people were here at UMA Esplanadi. But I am happy to notice a lot of our members have returned to UMA after summer vacations. They might not be here every day and are still partly working from home. But it is great that they are coming back anyway.
Being around people makes us happier and more efficient
Seeing people face-to-face has a significant role in innovation. Spontaneous conversations increase the number of new ideas and strenghten relationships. People motivate each other to better results. If you only see your collegues in online meetings you will lose a lot of good ideas that happen in the spontaneous conversations at the coffee machine or when you are having lunch together. And all the studies show that being around other people makes us happier.
Sometimes online meetings might be efficient but in general, they don’t enable the same kind of interaction between people than seeing face-to-face does. Small gestures, body language and tones of voice might disappear when you are not seeing each other. And a lot of people don’t feel that online meetings are natural way of communicating for them. If you are shy, you might not even want to open your camera or you might not find a good moment to tell your opinion if others in the meeting are dominating the conversation. Worst case, nobody even notices you are participating in the meeting. In face-to-face meetings, it is more difficult not to get noticed at all.
Sometimes online meetings might be efficient but in general, they don’t enable the same kind of interaction between people than seeing face-to-face does.
Ergonomy and wellbeing at the home office
Another thing I’ve heard is that a lot of people miss is the good ergonomics that we have here at UMA. A lot of us don’t have a study or a workroom in our homes. Using your kitchen table as a working desk is just not the same as an electric table and a good office chair. Many have said that when they just get up in the morning and start working from home, you don’t get as much physical activity you would if you would walk to the office. Going to the office gives our brain the opportunity to adjust to the workday.
If you only work from home, it gets more difficult to separate the work day from your free time and our brain might feel overwhelmed. What if someone gets too exhausted? Will we notice it as clearly as we would if we would work in the same place with them? It might be harder to realize the amount of work a colleague is doing if we never see their task list.
We will do this together
As we all know, we just need to cope with this new situation and adapt to the new normal. I really hope we can see many members coming to UMA and interacting with each other – Safely of course. As a Community Manager, it is my responsibility to ensure that it is safe to work at UMA. In all our locations we have hand sanitizer available, we remind people to wash their hands and to keep a safe distance. And if you see us moving around with a spray bottle and rag in our hand it means that we are doing our daily sanitizing rounds.
The corona situation will affect our daily life for many months to come. But I’m sure that if we all wash our hands, keep a safe distance from each other and use masks and our common sense, we will be able to work efficiently and safely in the same office with each other.
No matter what happens it is obvious that we need each other. We need our colleagues around us and the interaction between people makes companies work better and make better solutions. I am sure that the amount of remote working will increase, but at the same time it becomes much more important to have days when the whole team is in the same space and all the employees will meet each other.