Building Standards Division on working from home
Blog by Senior Management Team, Linda Stewart, Steven Scott and Neil Mitchell
When we left the office in March, no one expected we would be away from our desks, each other and our normal routines for so long! Now, working from home (WFH) is the new normal! It has not been without its challenges, setting up a home working space, and utilising IT to its best effect. It has certainly made us all more IT literate. Today’s working pattern is sitting in the dining room, living room or kitchen and utilising Webex and Microsoft Teams for internal and external meetings.
We have all in our different ways got “used to it”. But do we like it? The feeling now is that a blend of office and home working would be nice to have. We miss the personal interaction and the comradery that the office environment provides. Unfortunately that is some way off yet, given the most recent Scottish Government announcement that we will be working from home until 2021.
We all appreciate that everyone’s home working experience is different, as are the personal challenges. Working from home can feel lonely and isolated, and for those with children in the house they have had an added challenge of working and home schooling. We are of an age where we have not personally been affected by this, but we appreciate that for some it has been hard to get a good work life balance.
Staff morale is important, and we have introduced regular staff meetings and calls. Webex is popular as we can see everyone at least weekly. It’s good to see faces and not just hear voices. It’s not the same as being together but as a second goes it is good.
For all of us, human connection is the missing element. Yes, we do all get together virtually. Calls and video are fine for communication and we have all become more organised by necessity to avoid feeling too isolated. But just sitting with the team in a room going over work, or even shouting random thoughts across the office, these are the things that are missed the most. And the cakes. Our Division did have a lot of cake available most weeks. So the absence of that temptation is a positive (so we are told)!
As we in Building Standards have an interest in what makes a good building, lockdown has certainly reignited discussions on how we can take opportunities to plan homes to give the flexibility, amenity and privacy that helps make home working bearable. It’s not just about more space or an extra room, though that does help.
Turning to what the future holds, we as many will likely do, will all no doubt change how we work even when we do get back into the office.
One day when we perhaps move back to a more blended approach of home and office working us are all looking forward to the normality of the workplace, and perhaps reintroducing ourselves to the snacks vending machine and more importantly having again the opportunity to chat with team members over a coffee.