I have spent my 3 months of lockdown in Paris inside my condo without my roommate. I can say I had a lot of space, satisfying comfort level, but the most important part of this situation was keeping my job for the whole time.
France suffered economically during this period of time, but nothing compared to the US or other countries. France has something called “Chômage” which is an allowance for people trying to get back on their feet after being fired (and some other use cases). I keep this explanation at the highest level possible because it is one of the main controversy subject amongst French political debates (if you would like to know more about this, tell me in the comment section).
A lot has been going on during this 3 months and in this post you will discover the most important lessons to learn from this situation.
1. Your immediate working environment matters
At first I was skeptical about this advise I was reading on different posts and meetings. I have always been able to work from anywhere. But in the end, I always had a working office with my own desk. Kind of like a home base. So I could easily adapt anywhere else, but I had my professional home base and my personal home.
When they fusioned, it took me about 2 weeks to realize I was lacking productivity and most of all, I was losing my will to work. Being an independent contractor, this is a situation you want to avoid at all cost. I have the luxury to have a long term contract with a major French group. But with the current economic situation, my position is the first to be cut off. And let me tell you that it happened to several people I know during this 3 months.
Creating a physical separation inside your own house helps you find the psychological separation between work and personal life.
So, as a first action, I decided to move my gaming computer from the living room to my personal room. I made some design modifications, now my room looks like a young student apartment, but the main output here is now during working hours I am in a living room with my professional laptop only. And even if I am alone, when my working day is over, I tend to go to my room to chill and play some video games.
2. When the world is on pause. You can pause.
Whether it is from work or from partying, when everything is on pause, just take it and find the best way to turn this into something positive for you.
Living in big cities tend to turn us all into ants. It is a never ending environment and we are drawn to it like the fly to the light. We switch from work to after work drinks, restaurants, fitness parks. Everything is about working hard to play hard. The fitness models on social networks are dictating working out schedules. To be somebody these days, you can hardly afford to take a day off.
You do not need to be present for everything or you will lose a part of yourself in it. Play a part in this world, do not try to be part of its furnitures.
After 3 months of not going out, not seeing people at work or in bars. You kind of understand that missing a party is not that big of a deal. And being the funny guy from the office or the higher-intelligence from the tech team should not be full time jobs.
3. The concept of remote working is not suited for everyone
And this lesson should be learn by people practicing remote working but also for people managing remote workers. If you are a manager, it is totally possible that you are not suited to manage remote worker.
In this case, it is important to point out that this situation is a reflection of different aspects of society: the mass pays for the few.
I truly believe that, with the right disposition, the vast majority of people can thrive performing remote working. But for a few, and I have encountered some during my career, remote working = day off.
Give a manager a team of 10 people. If, in this 10 people, 1 of them is taking remote working as a joke and is working almost none during the day, you can almost guarantee that this team will be forbidden to work remotely at some point.
For a team to thrive working remotely, you need a skilled manager with the adequate mindset.
Since this way of life is recent in our society, people are still struggling to adapt. It is even more obvious in large groups and major companies. The board of directors is essentially composed of people who made their entire career without this practice even existing. It is easily understandable that the managers from these companies would struggle with new employees looking to embrace this way of work.
4. Manage your expectations
No, you will not end these 3 months with a brand new million dollar app, a ripped body and tanned. And you know what? It is okay!
A lot of pressure has been put early during this time period for people to try to take the best out of the situation. Start writing, read more, exercise, learn a new language, find business opportunities, etc…
These are legitimate advices and good for you if you achieved all of these goals.
“The Best is the enemy of the Good” — Voltaire
Focus your mind on a particular goal and try to achieve it. Having spare time and no clear deadline for the situation will definitely help you move faster. For me personally, I have worked on a multiplayer management game. And maybe this project will never interact with the mass but I got to organize an alpha test with some of my friends and we had fun.
I worked on this project to make what I believe was the best use of the time I was given.
I can clearly say that this project helped me in several ways: social interaction, improving my technical skills, working my imagination and generating creativity. And one of the main reason why it had so many positive outcomes is that I did not set the bar too high. I did not start the project with the mindset of having a business model around it, try to find fundings or further market analysis.
Try to make distance with what the world is expecting you to do and start doing things for you.
Thank you for reading my lines.