This home working malarkey is nothing new to me. I first started working from home in 2000 when I was an Account Manager at Prudential. The local offices were closed to save costs and all the Account Managers were set up remotely. Given that we spent a lot of our day out and about meeting people, this wasn’t too much of a hardship. Quite novel really.
We all coped slightly differently!
I met two other Account Managers who lived fairly close to me for breakfast once a week, and I spoke to a colleague based at the opposite end of the country every day, even if it was just for 5 minutes. Our accounts were very similar so we could share ideas and thoughts, but we were different. I was in my twenties, no kids whereas he was in his thirties with three young children.
We enjoyed hearing each other’s stories.
I did have one colleague though who found the move to home working tricky. He missed the camaraderie of the office and the separation of home and work. His trick for coping was putting on his suit jacket every morning, leaving the house, walking round the block and coming back in, hanging his jacket over the back of his seat and then he was good to start working. At the end of the day he did the same in reverse.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, despite being well equipped to homework, there are a few things that are proving tricky at the moment, they aren’t work related, but they are technology reliant.
If the tech doesn’t work, I know how to access help, I’m fairly savvy at taking a considered guess at what button to press or link to follow. But, my Mum who’s 81 years old doesn’t know what to do!
So, I find myself trying to coach her through installing tech on her iPad over a landline. I have realised that when she describes what she is seeing it often makes no sense to me. She doesn’t tell me everything that is happening on screen and she doesn’t describe things as I would.
But, there have been successes, as a result of perseverance and patience.
She’s got Zoom downloaded and now knows how to accept a meeting invite and join a call. Her first Zoom call was with me to test it all out. It took 15 minutes to get her in, whilst we were on the landline at the same time working it through. Her second call she was in immediately and the look of joy on her face when she saw me, my two brothers, my sister in law and six of her grandchildren spread across the UK, from as far north as Strathpeffer right down to Henley on Thames in the south, was just fantastic.
She’s managed to log into FaceTime and has been receiving FaceTime calls from members of the family who work for the Ministry of Defence and are not allowed to use Zoom.
She’s started using online banking and has paid her first bills digitally.
She received her first Tesco home delivery today and was amazed that right up until 11.46pm last night she was able to add to and change her order. She loved the fact that her Tesco delivery driver read the notes about her age and situation and dealt with delivering her order appropriately, speaking to her from the end of the garden path and telling her what was what.
She’s reconnected to one of my school friends who no longer lives locally to her, but who is working from her own Mum’s house so she can look after her now that carers can’t come in. My friend contacted me to see if she could do anything for my Mum. Now she’s getting conversations from the end of the path and newspapers delivered.
In the past it seemed too difficult to bring my Mum into the 21st Century, so I didn’t bother. But when needs must, not only has she managed, she’s embraced the change
After talking her though using a card reader for authorising a payment on online banking she said to me that she had really enjoyed it, that she had learnt something new, and she didn’t know why she had been so afraid of internet banking.
What have I learnt from all of this?
Don’t assume someone can’t do something
Don’t assume that someone is too old to learn a new trick
Don’t assume that it will be too difficult to overcome a challenge, especially one being conducted in the dark
I think at the moment many of us are being surprised, in a good way, about how we can adapt and cope.
Facebook and WhatsApp, I think are next on the list, but given that Mum is 2 weeks into a minimum 12-week isolation, I might wait a couple of weeks before introducing them. I don’t want to run out of new things too quickly!
Take care and be safe everyone.