WeekNote 2020 W12

The lessons from abandoning focus time reporting, and adapting to life under Corona

So where did the week notes go?

There were a couple of weeks where work was so bitty that I lost the will to sit down at the end of the week and write it up - this in itself is a source of learning - I think for me it reinforces the need to grab at least a sentence or two every day so a summary is easy to write.

Although I still use the Pomodoro app to keep individual bits of work focused, I’ve abandoned the focus time experiment. In part because another symptom of those very “bitty” weeks was a slide of the habit, but more deeply I realised that I was starting to game my own system to make the numbers look “good”. That is probably the most valuable lesson - any way you measure people that is made public tends to be gamed, even when you are gaming yourself.

This week has like everyone else been overtaken by the developing coronavirus situation in the UK. At our workplace we declared “full distributed working” from Monday evening, with a skeleton team going in on Tuesday to close out the office.

Wednesday and Thursday flew by, and in hindsight it’s amazing the progress we made with adapting to the new normal:

  • Postponing face to face CPD delivery over the next couple of months
  • Started exploring options to offer online alternatives based around services we already have - Microsoft Teams, Discourse and Moodle
  • Sales and marketing priorities adjusted to focus on services which provide sustained revenue
  • Starting work on a free digital offer to support our members - schools are in unprecedented situation
  • Supporting staff who are normally office-based make the transition to distributed working
  • Working with teams who had only used the chat functions in Microsoft Teams to adopt the more powerful features
  • Setting up ad-hoc processes for teams to support each other psychologically whilst distributed
  • Ensuring some work was still done on supporting existing application development priorities

I also took part in a Zoom meetup for Harold Jarche’s Perpetual Beta Coffee Club - participants from Canada, France, Canary Islands, UK and probably others. Nothing very structured, but a great opportunity to hear how workplaces across a fair section of the West are adapting to the pandemic.

In terms of personal impact I’ve decided to ration news to a couple of times per day. Probably the most emotional moment so far was when a couple of us were locking up the office without any sense of when we might reopen it - that felt like a very definite transition point.

Personal priorities have been around making sure the extended family all have systems in place - there are 4 generations living within 2 miles, and of course adapting our working world to two professionals working from the same apartment.

It’s been noticeable that the queues outside shops are definitely influenced by customer demographic. We use our local Aldi for much of our shopping, but this week it has been almost unusable because of queues. Luckily we’re in the position to use other shops, and by contrast the local M&S food hall had no queues.

Queue outside Aldi Archway 7:15 am 18/03/2020
Queue outside Aldi Archway 7:15 am 18/03/2020

And this is probably the first time I have ever seen Islington Council jet washing anything…

Islington council workers jetwash street furniture at Archway 19/03/2020
Islington council workers jetwash street furniture at Archway 19/03/2020
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change