22nd June 2020
Start-up in lockdown
Throw in some homeschooling while you’re at it.
Back in March 2020 whilst we at MtE were planning a series of face-to-face workshops for a new “Start-Up” project, the government were planning measures to control the Corona Virus, including asking us to only leave home to go to work where it was absolutely necessary. Schools would also be closing!
My head was spinning
These are the questions I asked myself when the news broke:
- Could we really get to understand the requirements of the project unless we completed the workshops face to face?
- Could we build a trusted relationship with the client?
- How was I going to balance home/work/new teacher life?
- Was my daughter’s education going to suffer?
- How much was I going to rely on TV, tablets, and other digital devices to fill her day?
My mind shot over to the famous clip where the BBC reporter was joined mid-interview by his kids. Was this going to happen to me?
Fast forward 12 weeks…
I am pleased to say that I have survived!
At times it was not easy, but upon reflection, there are some key takeaways that I will use going forward. Every day is a school day!
1. Company support is crucial
Prior to the global pandemic, MtE had a flexible working program in place, allowing staff to work from home, albeit within controls that suited both the company and the individuals.
Therefore, MtE were able to quickly respond to ensure that the safety of individuals was first, through a smooth transition for the entire workforce to work from home, with minimal disruption to our clients.
Ongoing mental health check-ins, encouragement to take a break and exercise, flexibility on working hours, remote fun activities and trust in the staff, meant that we could continue to strive to meet the deadlines from our projects, whilst working in these unprecedented times.
2. Digital Focus is key
As a Digital Agency, it is in our DNA to embrace all forms of technology to enable us to connect and communicate with our international client base and deal with the geographical spread of our workforce, through MS Teams, MS Outlook, MS Azure and other applications.
As a Business Analyst (BA), gathering requirements for a Digital “Start-Up” phase of a project, it requires you to “get under the skin” of the client and learn everything there is to know about what the client wants and needs from their new digital application, and challenge where appropriate, whether each requirement is actually required. Part of my role also involves helping Clients recognise other requirements that they did not realise that they needed.
Getting to communicate with the right stakeholders, document, and play-back requirements, and indeed solutions to fulfil requirements is an ongoing process during any “Start-Up” phase.
Upon reflection, I don’t know if we missed out massively by not being able to do this face-to-face, but as a company, it is something that we will review to ensure that we continue to “inspect” and “adapt” our processes to enable us to come out of this stronger and better prepared next time around.
We did learn to expect the unexpected and had our own BBC moments with children and animals involved!
3. Be the Best that you can be!
Seeing the colour coded home-schooling timetables and the endless list of “home projects” splashed over social media left me with a sense of guilt of whether I was doing enough in my home life.
Whilst I did my best, I quickly found out that I was never going to be able to provide the same level of teaching to my child that she would have got in school. My newfound respect for teachers was never going to put them out of a job! I have learnt that our children are resilient and will bounce back from this more than we realise, and in some ways as individuals we need to find ways to make it happen for us.
As a naturally organised person, I found that this skill was key to ensure that I got the right balance throughout each day. Some days were more challenging than others as I strived for perfection each day, but I soon had to learn that none of us can have 100% control of everything 100% of the time!
On a personal note my key take-away is to strive to do the best that you can do, but don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you when the chips are down. Start each day fresh and learn to let go!
To sum it up…
…no one knows where we will go from here. With this enforced period of WFH it has certainly made us deal with and think of everything differently. I know we have all missed our face to face meetings, but it will be interesting to see how our work in the IT industry changes in the future and what new opportunities it brings to our company.