2 April 2020
A day in the life of an HR professional during Covid-19
I’m on the second week of this new arrangement of working from home and what an emotional roller-coaster it has been already!
I was very upbeat at the beginning of last week, making plans as to what I can achieve, how I can add value to the business, and support my HR Team under such extraordinary circumstances.
Very eagerly, I set up my home office and sat down to work. Then I turned my camera on and realised that the angle of it was not right, that I did not look as splendid as anticipated, and that the picture frame on the wall behind me had faded due to the constant sun exposure. I thought to myself, that wasn’t the picture I was going to paint of my new office at home! Since then, I have moved my desk 3 times and I think I am now satisfied with how things are at the moment. Until the next week I suppose.
The first day was really to gather my thoughts as to how I can continue to deliver a great HR service from home. How can I truly partner with my business area when they are all working remotely?
I am of the opinion that all HR professionals should maintain a ‘good feeling’ of the Company, being able to witness the daily interactions between the team, attending the team/ management meetings to get a feel for the working relationships, and the parts that form the psychological contract. Under such unique times, how can I utilise my intuition and empathy well to find the balance between the human side and professional working side? The business and my director value the ability to be pro-active and I do worry that I may now become more reactive to some business issues than I would like to be.
Working remotely drastically changes interactions, but I can still ensure that the little things I did in the office continue. I might not be bumping into my colleagues and I will not have the same opportunity for human connection, but I can reach out to my co-workers and make time for those valuable social conversations.
Whilst in the middle of this deep-thinking, my four-year old daughter sat next to me. She pretended to call my HR director to tell her that, actually, I am not working that hard and that there are some unanswered emails in my inbox. This was not the case, I promise!
So, getting back to my contemplation and reflection, I started to think about my skillset. Which of my skills would I need to work on and which ones should I look at improving during the current unprecedented times to aid the business and myself? The first competency I considered, reluctantly I must admit, was my organisational skills.
It is assumed that HR teams need to be pretty good at structuring things, and whilst I do organise my daily agenda and prioritise my to-do activities, I enjoy the ‘go with the flow’ attitude towards my work. Any HR Business Partner out there will relate to ever-changing priorities in HR, but I think that I may need to get out of my comfort zone and structure my daily routine more tightly to be able to respond to these new challenges. So, a daily to-do list going forward is a must for me to set out realistic and necessary tasks to keep me more focused.
Under the current arrangement of working from home, it is imperative to spell out clearly any actions that need to be taken and by whom. This requires a great deal of organisational skills to make sure that any meeting actions are summarised and circulated appropriately and promptly.
I am very lucky to have a very supportive team and most importantly, a trusting and empowering director who trusts me to deliver. The technology we use internally has allowed me to maintain the vital communication between HR and the rest of the business. I do believe that our managers will have to be more self-sufficient under the circumstances, and for me, knowing that we have a HR platform which enables them to have meaningful conversations with their employees is imperative. It allows them to get to know their employees outside of work a little bit more, on a human level. Now is the time to utilise check-ins and their collaborative nature. Obviously, as ever before, HR Business Partners will be with you along the process to offer guidance and support, as and when required.
So, my advice based on the first week of working from home would be as follows:
- Cut yourself some slack during this transition period. Try out different things, have a go and if it doesn’t work, try something different
- Be sure you’re happy with your home office and find a sustainable arrangement. Use the video, even if it is not comfortable - seeing your work colleagues is invaluable.
- Be proactive, note your progress and keep others well informed.
- Go with the flow and make the most of it – I really enjoyed a spontaneous BBQ I had in my garden the other day when the weather was gorgeous!
It’s a brand new world we’re living in right now, and all we can do is make the most of it.