27 September 2023

Reality bites: How to cope with the new reality of remote work

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Kathryn Moody* says she has received a lot of pitches about ways to cope with telework, and some are stranger than others.

New to remote work? Welcome.

While some employers had infrastructure in place to cope with a shift like this, others may be at a total loss.

No offices?

No free coffee machine or small kitchen in which to seek out the office gossipmonger?

How do you hold meetings?

Where is everybody?

This is madness.

For HR pros, this shift — prompted, of course, by the new coronavirus — has bred fascinating new headaches.

For marketers, it has created opportunity.

And my inbox is full of their, uh, very interesting new pitches.

Below I’ve listed four subject lines straight from my inbox that caught my attention.

Like anthropologists, we’ll piece together what this means for this curious era of remote work.

WFH pants?

Are you or your colleagues panicking about what to wear while working from home?

Probably not, but a big part of adjusting to working from home full-time is ensuring you are in the mindset to work.

Experts largely agree that there can be great psychological benefits from changing out of pyjamas into more standard day clothes.

“You have to take a shower,” Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, said on a recent podcast.

“Yes, yes you do.”

“You have to get dressed, not necessarily what you would wear on a regular basis when you go into the office — but you have to get dressed, no pyjamas.”

Truthfully, I have yet to be on a video call where I see someone’s pants.

I am not complaining about this. I would, however, like to take this moment to remind everyone to please wear a shirt any time you even think about turning on your camera.

‘Wellness’ boxes

Food may be an even bigger deal for those now working from home, just a few yards away from the snack cabinet.

We’ve seen your tweets.

I’m struggling.

You’re struggling.

The cookies are right there.

While concerns about employee health may be honed in on other matters, employers in the midst of setting up a remote wellness program may find food to be one of the biggest hurdles to encouraging employees to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Addendum: I ate three chocolates and a string cheese writing this column.

Don’t ask me for advice on this.

The office but make it a video game

Offices new to remote work may feel especially adrift, leading some to turn to virtual workspaces to capture that “in person” feeling.

Event Farm and VirBELA’s solution, for instance, is a “customisable event space” that allows for presentations in massive auditoriums, provides board rooms for smaller meetings and even creates “outdoor environments” for “casual mingling”.

But it is far from the first platform to offer employers such a service and it won’t be the last.

These platforms tend to tout employees’ ability to create personal avatars that can “walk” through a virtual space, like in a video game.

I’ve heard from employers that swear by the tech for their completely remote workforces, using it to create a sense of community.

But perhaps one bonus of standard video sans avatars is that you do not have to tell people “please do not emote” and “please remain in your seat”.

Maybe I’ve played too many video games, but I can’t help but compare it to the not-safe-for-work game Second Life, a pioneer in the “virtual lifestyle” space.

Notably, Zoom — the remote conferencing app garnering popularity in the stock markets and on Twitter — can also give way to some shenanigans.

Either way, this option is out there for employers who need it.

* Kathryn Moody is a senior editor for HR Dive. She tweets at @KatMMoody.

This article first appeared at www.hrdive.com.

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