How many times can a child utter the word mum in a day? Out of curiosity (or maybe boredom), i took up the challenge to count the number of times my 4 kids call out my name, and between 10am to 3pm, yesterday, we were at 85 and counting. Whether I chose to ignore or answer them was meaningless, as they appeared to like the sound of the word.  
 
I thought working from home would be easy, satisfying and fulfilling, but i was wrong. For a mother, specifically, this is very confusing. I struggled, the first week, to find my footing between teaching my kids, becoming their Priests,  managing and balancing their physical and mental well-being, cooking, cleaning, studying, working in an extremely noisy environment and getting a simple shower. As a matter of fact, below is a picture of me, taken by my son, in my pyjamas, cooking lunch.
 
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With the fear currently crowding people judgment, speaking to individuals bring out a very depressed outlook about life. While economists predict a global economic and financial crisis similar to the 2008-2009 great recession, psychologists predict a great depression similar to that of 1929-1933. Whatever the case, no one is predicting anything positive. 
I am often reminded in such trying times of one of my favourite quotes  “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Sitting the whole day, every day, watching Netflix won’t help. This is the time, for entrepreneurs to re-strategize, think ahead of your competitors, and take bold, calculated risks.
 
After ‘’suffering’’ for about 10 days, i chose to be proactive and make a plan that would help me become more productive, and most importantly innovative. Working remotely is a continuous trial and error process you will go through until you find specific ways that would work out for you.
 
  1. Redelegate: The first thing i did was to speak to the teacher of my children with some suggestions regarding how she could teach the kids online. I was happy to know that she had similar thoughts, and happily agreed to my approach. This saved me 4 hours of teaching and correcting what seemed like endless assignments, without counting the number of times i had to use Google to teach Chemistry.
  2. Go back to your routine: Our Bible reading/studies went back to the evening as we would on a normal day, as opposed to the spontaneous ones we started to have this past weeks. Even though the kids adore my food, i made it very clear that i would cook more often, but definitely not every day as mummy needed to work. Cleaning was never my cup of tea, i happily handled it back to the house manager. I wake up, dress up and work as if i was heading to the office to motivate and stimulate my mind.
If you are a manager, be aware that communication can be a big challenge when working remotely. Yet, your team still need your guidance to make the transition successful.
  1. Set clear goals and expectations: employees need to comprehend that this is not a holiday. You still need to hold them accountable for their work.  Progress must be evaluated in line with the employee’s KPIs. Weekly reviews should be implemented to ensure that staff are committed to the company’s objectives and vision.
  2. Be realistic: despite the fact that work needs to continue, it is a different environment which tend to be harder for employees with children. As a manager be realistic about what this might entail. Establish hours of availability to maximize output.
  3. Embrace virtual communication: emails, calls or texts are not as effective remotely as they are when your staff are physically present in the office. Choose video calls such as Zoom, Microsoft team and GoToMeeting to communicate, connect and most importantly clarify misunderstandings.

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The coronavirus may have unexpectedly forced employees to work remotely, but this might become the future of the workplace. In this uncertainty times, where laid-offs are becoming increasingly rampant, nothing should be left to chance. 

#emmanuellaaboa