Last month, 1 year passed since we were thrown into new ways of working as a result of lockdown. While we all continue to navigate our own unique experiences, the world is slowly opening back up — from Sydney to New York.
A phased return to the office life we once knew is underway, but recent events may change work as we know it. Technology truly jumped into the spotlight for those who had to keep things moving, even when they could no longer physically collaborate with their peers. Many are realising longer term gains beyond the pandemic; whether it’s a hybrid model of working from home plus the occasional office visit, or a permanent change to their workflows — the way we get the job done may never be the same.
Architects and engineers are harnessing the power of virtual site visits to keep the ball rolling, government entities are monitoring change in their cities remotely and insurers are figuring out how to continue supporting customers as natural disasters add another layer of adversity to our ‘new normal’.
What did we learn at Nearmap? Well, we learnt the power of virtual communication is real. Over the last 12 months, the team has dialed into over 65,000 Zoom meetings, and collectively sent and received 4,758,559 Slack messages. We asked around at Nearmap what were some of the challenges faced, and what’s a key piece of advice for those who may still be learning to find a balance between work and home:
Lilian Haney, Product Marketing Manager
“Product marketing is a highly cross-functional role, and I need to work with a range of stakeholders. I onboarded remotely, so virtual coffee chats with people in different parts of the business meant by the end of the first two weeks, I knew at least one person from each segment of the business that I could go to with questions.
And advice? I know a lot of people love virtual backgrounds, but for me I like the ritual of setting up a physical folding screen every morning, transforming a section of my bedroom into my home office, and then putting it away at the end of the work day. It helps create that separation between Nearmap life and home life (and then my husband can freely grab gym clothes without zoom-bombing my calls!)”
Marni Wall, Senior Director of Employee Experience
“Recruiting remotely has been interesting. How people present on Zoom can be very different to how they present in person; being on camera terrifies some people so sometimes they don’t bring their full authentic self to the interview. Humans are social animals, we typically like to be together in person.
What COVID did force us to do is to think differently about how to have the all-important water cooler conversation. At Nearmap, we use multiple Slack channels to share everything from hobbies to babies/kittens/puppies! I feel honoured that my colleagues have shared a little bit of their life outside of work with me.
My advice is don’t be a slave to your desk. You can work from anywhere, so If the weather is nice, I take a beanbag and my computer down to the park to tap out some work.”
Bonnie Archibald, Global Senior Events Manager
“I’ve been navigating not just a new way of working, but what feels like a total change in how I do my job. Knowing how to plan and execute a physical event is very different to the requirements for a digital event. There is a constant need to pivot, and doing so quickly. Making sure we don’t just have 1-2 back-up plans, but multiple as everything is unpredictable. Traditionally a lot of events have been physical experiences, but a positive of COVID is that it has forced us to explore new formats and allowed for a global reach.
I would offer this advice: Try to stick to a routine if you can, whether that be the time you wake up or when you take a break. This will help stop the blurred lines between work and play — especially if your work desk is in your bedroom!"
Sean Kelly, Director of Survey Operations (North America)
“Working in operations prepares you for dealing with the unexpected, but collecting aerial imagery in a pandemic is a whole new ballgame. In March 2020, as states imposed different lockdowns and the world started working from home, the imagery we collect every day became even more critical. To keep our team safe, we used a skeleton office crew with strict quarantine measures to maintain essential operations, which include data uploading, shipping, and equipment repair. The team demonstrated great flexibility during these unprecedented times, and I’m grateful to work with a group of such dedicated and resilient individuals.
My advice — A box of sidewalk chalk goes a long way when you have little ones at home.”