With workplaces across the country shifting their operations from offices to employee living rooms during the global pandemic, working from home has quickly become as common as coffee breaks and dress down Fridays. For some, it will be business as usual, but for others, it may be more of a challenge than they’re used to.
With insights, tips and first impressions, here’s how the SEFE Marketing & Trading team has gotten used to remote working across a range of departments.
How was working from home for you initially?
“Working at home was a rough start and I found this uncertainty really unsettling,” says Marisa Camastral, Senior Operational Risk Analyst at SEFE Marketing & Trading London. Of course, the global pandemic presented an entirely new situation for us all, forcing many into a position they may not be used to.
Marisa continues: “It’s surprising how quickly you adapt to a new situation; we have changed our ways of working in the team, and are working productively and efficiently together.”
Indeed, being in such an unfamiliar situation might present a few working methods that aren’t always conducive to productivity, which Paul Bajan, Power Operator for our Commercial Operations, certainly found out. He says: “When I started working at home, I kept my blinds closed for a few days and I felt very tired at the end of the day.”
What have you discovered about working from home?
Away from our usual 9 to 5, lockdown has meant our regular schedules have taken a back seat. Without their normal office environment to work in, what has our team discovered about their temporary workplaces? Paul says: “It does blur the concept of time; I’ve asked my colleagues a few times what day of the week it is!”
And though many of us have been afforded more time to put to use outside of work, it’s perhaps easier said than done. “I remind myself that without my daily commute I should now have more time for myself,” Paul notes, adding “but in reality, not being as active has actually meant more screen time. However, I’ve noticed that even short walks and breaks have helped and getting fresh air and natural daylight have also been important.”
“For Ben Pryor, Oil Trader for our UK Gas Trading, remote working has shown how much we might take the office environment for granted: “I’ve noticed a couple of things, including how much I rely on face-to-face communication, how much now I lean on those relationships when I contact people, and how much longer it takes to communicate with them from home.”
Nevertheless, Ben has taken steps to preserve the normality of office life as much as possible, saying: “Maintaining a routine is key to keeping productivity high. I’ve kept as much of my day as close to how it would normally be: the time I get to my desk, read overnight reports, and speak to brokers and colleagues. Not that there aren’t benefits – opening the windows to get fresh air is easier when you’re not on the seventh floor!”
For Marisa, she’s been using the time to try and learn something new: “So far, I’ve tried baking hot cross buns: a resolute failure. However, I’m on trend with sourdough and have this fine-tuned. I’ve also been keeping up with running, but some days that’s more miss than hit.” Away from our loved ones, it’s also important to maintain regular contact as much as possible, as Marisa has been: “I have regular video chats with the family back in Australia, and friends locally and abroad. It helps immensely, as we’re all in the same boat.”
What have you struggled with as a result of working from home?
“I still really miss coming into work,” says Marisa, “I’m a social person by nature, so not being around people is a real struggle. Some of the newness of being at home continuously is also wearing off, and boredom is creeping in now and again.”
Those of us who like to get their pulses racing have had to deal with the closure of gyms and assorted outdoor spots, and the same goes for Marisa: “I’m used to being out and about and being active, so for me, this is a big change.”
Any tips or advice you have for others working from home?
“The main thing that my team and I are doing to simulate our interaction at work is to have a call going all day,” says Paul, “most of the team joins the call in the morning and it feels like we are next to each other: cracking a joke, sharing stories, experiences, market information and keeping each other informed of what we’re all doing. It provides a nice morale boost to keep us in good spirits.”
Marisa brings up perhaps the most important piece of advice: “It’s good to maintain proper separation from work and home. With office and home one and the same for the time being, creating a distinction between the two is essential. I try to be quite disciplined at logging off each day, and I think keeping ‘work hours’ stops you being too obsessed, especially when it’s tempting to keep working just to give yourself something to do.”
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