Work in the time of Corona assumes no evil
Working remotely requires us more than ever to assume no mal-intentions
Lately we moved our team’s daily standup to around 14:00 because it’s nap time for most of our young ones and there is a higher chance for us all to be available. I begin most of my mornings before 6 am, very quietly making coffee to start working before my kids wake up. It is the most quiet time of the day. Once they wake up we start the day’s shifts between me and my partner, dividing the day between work and play with the kids and some days returning to work again when the kids fall asleep at night.
By 14:00 I already had 2–3 meals prepared for the kids (there’s first and second breakfast and of course lunch), some arts and crafts time, play and dance, putting the little one to sleep and selecting a somewhat-educational TV show for the elder one and of course work time. I can hardly say that I am fully rested arriving to the daily sync, and it’s not just me, my teammates have similar daily agendas that may shift a little according to the schedule they have with their partner. We are all stressed, tired and probably feel that we have too little time during our day and this is how we begin our daily sync.
Having this baggage means that we are all more sensitive than we used to be and miscommunication is bound to happen. We are not sitting next to each other, it is harder to sync in a quick coffee chat and we are limited by the internet connectivity and the lapses in our zoom. It is easy to get upset and insulted and to think that the other side “just doesn’t get it”, and maybe they really don’t get it (hey, it’s much harder to communicate this way) or maybe one of us is completely wrong. Snapping is easy and can happen much quicker than it used to when we were all sharing a communal kitchen.
A few weeks ago a teammate told me something that stuck through this period: “assume no mal-intentions” which translated in my mind to assuming that the other side, like me wants our joint work to be a success. It is always a good advice to follow but in these days is even more important than ever.
I call my teammates when I feel that we are heading towards a misunderstanding and I start these calls by listening to the other party, in many times finding out that this was indeed a misunderstanding. I assume that the people around me, my family, my colleagues all have the best intentions and start from that assumption.
It is such a weird and stressful time. We have misunderstandings, we have disagreements, but we remind ourselves that we are all struggling and are literally in the same boat trying to sail safely and it does help if row that boat together.