The pandemic: an employee’s perspective
I’m sure that it all started in a similar way for me, as it did for a lot of you who are reading this right now. Back in early January and February, we all collectively watched as this new scary virus rapidly spread around the world. At first, I didn’t fully grasp the seriousness of it all as the numbers in London appeared to be low.
But then things moved very quickly. We got called into a team meeting and we heard that from that point on, we could work from home if we couldn’t get to the office without public transport. A few days later, everyone was choosing to work from home and the switch to full-time home working was complete. Since the UK went into full lockdown a few weeks later I was very pleased that I hadn’t been on public transport in that time.
This is where the ‘new normal’ began for all of us. The Monday morning team meetings, the project briefs, and even the chats by the kettle. All were suddenly done from behind a screen. While it seemed like the damage by the coronavirus was getting more and more apparent every day, I actually found working to be a very nice way to be ‘distracted’ from all the doom and gloom.
At the time, we all were under the impression that this would last a couple of months at most. Most of us had experience working from home before, so in a sense, this was just an extended version of that.
Due to the switch to an all-digital experience, we realised that we needed to re-create these spontaneous chats, as it’s easy to only talk to each other when it’s about work when you’re working from home. Since the lockdown started, we have always made an effort to have tea breaks together over Zoom or Google Hangouts, we’ve often had Pub quizzes on Friday afternoons and I personally really appreciated the concern for my well being during the lockdown, as I was pretty much the only employee who was living completely on my own.
When I realised that it was unclear how long this whole lockdown was going to take, I started thinking about going back to my parents’ house in the Netherlands. As I was working from home anyway, and the difference in time only being an hour, it just made sense. At least I would actually be around other people. One hastily arranged trip to the Netherlands later, I started working from my new ‘office’, which was the same bedroom I left behind for London 5 years ago.
Luckily, a lot of the tools and services that we used before all of this went down, already lent themselves perfectly for working remotely.
For me as a designer, these tools include:
An online digital product design platform that we have used for years to present work to each other and to clients, leave comments for feedback and to share ideas. We can upload and share designs with one click from our design tools, so this really enables us to share our work easily from any place that offers an internet connection.
An online kanban board which we use to easily and publicly manage our to-do lists, as well as track the progress of all the projects we have on.
Gmail, Zoom and Hangouts
The name ‘Gmail’ doesn’t really need an introduction, but services such as Hangouts, Google Meet and Zoom allow us to speak to each other face-to-face. It’s the closest thing we have to physical meetings, and it just helps to get things across that can be hard to do through text chat alone. It also allows you to share your screen, which helps you to get instant feedback, or share ideas without uploading them to a platform such as Invision.
We only started using this recently, but it’s quickly becoming our favourite tool for collating tweaks and amends to websites that are in the development stage. On their website, they describe themselves as ‘Sticky notes on a website’, and I think that is a great way to describe it. When you add a tweak, you can click on the element that you’d like to tweak, and it records a lot of helpful information such as your screen size and your browser. It even takes a screenshot of how the element looked when you added the tweak! These were all things that we used to add manually in a Google Sheet, but this works much quicker.
All in all, I think that we have really made the best out of the situation. We have collectively made an effort to have spontaneous chats, and a bit of fun as well such as a pub quiz on Friday, or dressing up in fancy dress for a monthly team meeting.
However, I am sure that I can speak for everyone here at The Web Kitchen when I say that we are very much looking forward to seeing each other again in a world where we don’t have to worry about this disease. Be it at a shiny new office, or at a pub for some after-work drinks!