Working From Home – The New Normal

Over the first half of 2020, there have been major changes for so many people, for example adjusting to changes in the workplace due to Covid19. All over the world many people have lost their jobs or been laid off. Others have had to move their workplace from an office environment to their home.

Citybin Office

Citybin HQ, Oranmore, Galway

In mid-March, I received a call to say we must all work from home. While my colleagues, who are very much on the frontline, continued to make sure The City Bin Co. customers’ continued to receive an amazing bin collection and skip hire service, there were fast changes implemented for the team at our HQ and our Dublin Office. The City Bin Co. HQ has always been open-plan, where up to 40 people work side-by-side. We also have a super canteen for having a chat and coffee. Now three months into what is called the ‘new normal’, the office team is fully remote, working from home and continues to support the frontline heroes collecting the bins daily.

Personally, I have always loved the idea of working remotely. I felt there could be freedom that would allow me to do good work from anywhere in the world. Little did I know that anywhere would be the spare bedroom at home! The reality is that working from home comes with some adjustments. The main areas that are notably positive for me are my new commute, my new office, my lunch breaks, and the new communication tools. Just to keep it balanced, there are new distractions too.

The new commute

Working from home has brought a new set of advantages as well as disadvantages. At first, I was very productive but as the months went on I would have days where I lacked motivation. As my family space and workspace are one, I now deal with this by making sure I go for a short walk before and after work. This signals both the start and the end of my work time and the beginning of family time.  I pretend it’s my commute to work, and mentally that’s exactly what it is.  This has lifted my spirits and gotten me refocused.

Working From Home

Some of teams ‘Work From Home’ desks

The new office  

I have cut out the daily drive which saves on time and petrol. Nowadays, my commute is a 5-second commute from the kitchen to the spare room when I get back from my walk.  I have converted the corner by the window into my home office. Some of my colleagues don’t have the luxury of a spare room and make do with the kitchen counter or any other quiet spot they can find in their abode.

Lunches and breaks

I have better lunches as I am with my family and we are cooking at home. Before, I would pop out to get a takeaway or something fast, eat it quickly and then head back to the office. I was also snacking in-between meals. Now lunch is a really enjoyable part of the day, where I am sitting down with my family and eating very healthy food. This is a good switch off from the work environment, although I also miss the ‘in-person’ meetings and face to face interactions with colleagues and customers that would happen over lunch.

The new tools 

I never thought I would find myself on so many webinars and video meetings. I have become accustomed to video conferencing for meetings with customers and colleagues. What was once an awkward communication tool is now very familiar and effective.

We have also had to get used to video conferencing for our internal meetings and our Sales Team relies on them for their sales meetings. The great thing is meetings happen on time and there are no traffic jams en route!

The new distractions

I never thought in a million years that my kids would be interrupting a work meeting to ask me to play a game or help them with their schoolwork. Or be simply checking in on me to have a look at what I am doing, but the reality is that this is the new distraction. Before it might have been a quick coffee chat with a colleague, now it’s the kids. It’s also great that they see what Daddy actually does at work. Customers and colleagues also get to see a bit about the ‘real me’, not just the ‘work me’.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones able to work and support a service that is essential. No matter where I do my work, the most important thing is that I get to be part of a team that is working together remotely to make sure a job is done well and the service goes smoothly. The change to remote working happened fast and, although in the beginning, I was anxious and unsure of how it would pan out, the truth is that in times of change we adapt.

Each new day using new tools or working from a new environment we gain confidence and it builds us as individuals and as a team.