Now that New Zealand has left lockdown behind, I’ve been reflecting on the experiences of my family and my team through that intense time.
I’m sure for most people that experience was of their personal and work lives suddenly crashing together. For me, personally, it was even more so; I have four kids, aged six, four, two, and my youngest is three months old.
Datacom started testing working from home before the official lockdown began, and my sales team was one of the first to go. In all, it was over 12 weeks that we were strictly working from home.
For my team and I there have been real lessons and growth, and things I’d like to build on in the new normal — especially as we get into the mahi ahead.
For the first week, the collision of work and home was so sudden that it was pretty chaotic to begin with. I started working out of my garage, and the kids were so excited I was home they’d just burst in all the time. Because they are small, they didn’t really understand that I was working.
Eventually we agree on a traffic light system with paper plates coloured with crayon – green means they can come in, talk, and play, orange means they can interrupt if they need to, and red means that dad is in a very important meeting. Ultimately, they got bored because all I do is talk all day!
But that’s not where the colouring-in stopped. Over the course of the weeks, the kids and I transformed our garage into a ‘real virtual background’ of drawings, including Thor and a worm farm — this is now a permanent fixture in the garage. I feel I’m working surrounded in aroha.
In amongst everything, like I’m sure it was for many of us, it was just really cool hanging out together. We had a camping night where we pitched a tent in the garage. One by one they made their way to mum’s room and when I woke up the next morning I was the only person left in the tent.
For my colleagues in my team and at Datacom I saw a new level of connection and collaboration that I hadn’t seen in six years of working here. This is starting from a high base; writ large, I’m surrounded by talented, team-orientated, caring people who are none-the-less ambitious and great at what they do.
But during this period I’ve seen my team filled with even more of a sense of purpose in fulfilling our responsibilities to each other, to our customers, communities, and to our colleagues at Datacom. And that goes for all of the teams we regularly interact with.
We’ve had to work much harder to collaborate and communicate, and we’re better for it. These are the things that we got right that I want to keep:
One way we rode through the pressure was that we had a lot of fun. We have themed meetings every week now (last week we had Hawaiian and 4 May was Star Wars — we’re tech geeks, this was inevitable).
We’ve emerged fitter physical specimens! Early on, we realised that were going to get serious back or posture problems because of the amount of time we were spending in Teams calls. So we took it mobile and started walking meetings. Now, every day, I’d easily walk about five kilometres as part of my regular work day. It turns out that Steve Jobs was right about that, too.
Great teams perform no matter what
We discovered that the right culture, process, and ceremonies will overcome everything.
Although it’s been tough, challenging, and demanding, I’m grateful for the time spent building much deeper connections with my family and colleagues.
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James (Hemi) David is our associate director, sales, New Zealand Commercial. In December, 2019 he was named Young Executive of the Year at Deloitte Top 200.