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Reflections on a year of remote working

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March 24, 2021

A year ago this week the country went into its first national lockdown. Offices across the country were forced to close and staff had to adapt to remote working. Little did we know that 12 months on we'd still be here.

Fortunately here at NB we already had the systems and infrastructure in place to make the transition from office to home working seamlessly. Our weekly team meetings became Microsoft Teams calls and we became a lot more used to seeing each other and our clients on screen rather than in person.

As a digital marketing agency we were also in a good position to help many of our clients adapt from running off-line businesses to online ones, particularly through ecommerce platforms like Shopify and targeted email newsletter and social media campaigns.

Twelve months later we are still working from home, but with the successful roll-out of the vaccine and the promise of reduced lockdown measures soon we hope to be back in our Lerwick offices very shortly.

In the meantime, we asked some of the NB team to share their reflections on the past year of working from home...

Alex Fenton, Assistant Manager

What aspects of office life have you missed most?

I think it's the collaborative aspect that I've missed the most. As a digital agency we were able to switch to home working almost instantly, and maintain communication via the various platforms we already used. However, there isn't the same feeling to collaborative working via a screen. Problem-solving and exploring solutions collaboratively is an important part of what we do, so I'll enjoy being able to do that in person again once we get back into the office.

As a parent, how difficult has it been to manage home working and home schooling?

My daughter was born on the first day of lockdown one, so the last year has been a big change in more ways than one! It's certainly very difficult to juggle home working with kids but I also recognise I wouldn't have spent anywhere near as much time with my daughter had I been commuting to the office every day. One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with the inevitable distractions. When there's a baby crying, CBeebies on full blast, the phone rings, iPad runs out of battery, the dog spews on the carpet and then the internet drops out, it's pretty hard to remain calm and focused! I think I've got better at dealing with that kind of thing over the last year.

Kylie Wood, Project Manager

What have you liked about home working?

I have really enjoyed working from home. I feel like I am more productive because I can structure my day with short stops (often quick household tasks being done) to keep me moving, to clear my head and come back to my next task completely focused. I have had a good set up with equipment from the office and lucky to have a room that I now call the ‘office’, which I can close off at the end of the day to create a good work/life balance. I’m a morning person, so find more time to exercise, have breakfast and start work before 8am every day, which suits me personally.

What have been the biggest challenges?

It has taken getting used to constant meetings via video, although this was becoming more popular before and necessary for us at NB with clients from many different locations. I suppose it is the fact that all discussions with colleagues have to be done through video call too, which can become tiring.

What are you most looking forward to about getting back to the office?

Meeting with colleagues and any local clients face-to-face. I definitely want to try to hang on to some of the benefits of working from home when we can go “back to normal” though. I would be keen to explore a blend of both home and office working, to find a balance that benefits my efficiency and productivity and is a good work/life balance.

What three things have you learnt about yourself this past year?

It’s easy to complain about the situation, but I have definitely found and seen many positives from it too. I learned that I actually really enjoy having more of my own time and not having such a packed full diary. Relaxation is as important as socialising, and I didn’t give myself that time before.
Meeting up with family, friends and their kids outdoors is always so enjoyable – and the weather doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect for this to be the best option. I’ve always loved nature, but only realised it is the best place to be for most catch ups.

Chris Thomson, Web Development & Project Management Officer

What have you liked about home working?

Pretty much everything. I like my house and I like my home office setup, so it is great working from home. My cats have also appreciated more regular food drops.

What have been the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge has been establishing the work/life balance, as my home computer is now also my work computer. Checking emails in the evening and weekends has become more of a habit.

What are you most looking forward to about getting back into the office?

With twins arriving in the summer, I think what I will be looking forward to is getting into the office for some peace and quiet!

March 24, 2021

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