Michel
van der
Meulen

Our children teach us how to work remote

I am a father of three children, our youngest is sixteen, senior in high school and soon facing her final exam. Due to the whole situation with the Corona virus, she stays at home since mid-March and is taking digital classes together with her fellow students. At school, the students work on the assignments together in groups, physically sitting together. But now they all stay at home, it is not possible to sit physically together. Nevertheless the situation, they still collaborate intensively and when I saw how they do that, I thought to myself "These kids show us, adults, how it's being done". How do they act?

They share the teaching materials and documents with their laptops via Google Class, an online platform for schools. And in addition to that, they have a visual connection with each other via their mobile devices as long as they are working together. About half of their time they converse about the assignments, but the rest of their time they keep the connection open constantly, so they have instant contact and can help each other on anything. Emotional expressions are heard and that triggers the others to offer help. This way of collaborating is almost as effectively as working together at school. And another important benefit is that they also have room for social contact, which leads to less feelings of loneliness.

So they do not just set up a connection whenever they have a question or something else, and also not with one person. No, they are connected all the time to all group members. And yes, you hear all kinds of noises of what is happening in the other houses, but that is not nearly as disturbing as you might think.

On the other hand, I know a lot of remotely working adults who only contact someone else when they have some questions. And most of the times they only contact just one person, not the entire team. And after the questions are answered they terminate the connection. Strange. There are also adults who miss social contact with their colleagues and feel quite lonely when working remotely for a longer period. So why don't you stay connected for a while?

I see this youthful way of working as an example for adults and it is worth experimenting with it. So keep the Skype/Zoom/MS Teams/FaceTime connection with your teammates alive for one hour or two and stay connected with each other, visually and auditory. And find out if this is something which adds value to your way of working. And if it turns out that the connection disturbs you from concentrating on your work, you can always decide to disconnect or turn off the sound, but let the others know that you do that and how they can reach you if necessary.

Anyway, I think youth shows us that working in a distributed team can be done better and more successful than most of us do now. This is just an example that might help you looking at things differently, out-of-the-box. Maybe it will help you make your way of remote working a little easier, and maybe it helps you to come up with even a better idea.

Use it to your advantage.

  
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