A screenshot from a group video call of various Polecat Employees working from home

With the spectre of Coronavirus still having a firm grip on us all, we Polecats are well settled within our home environments. We consider ourselves very lucky and were, most definitely, ahead of the curve with our homeworking model when the Coronavirus crisis struck.

But, as time goes by, and we continue to be confined to our homes and stripped of our normal daily routines, even we, resilient Polecats who are used to homeworking, might find the prolonged times of isolation difficult. It is certainly a strange and somewhat unstructured thing that can’t be defined by a calendar.

Of course, the potential loneliness which comes with the territory of prolonged homeworking and social seclusion are the reasons we need to draw on key elements of our Polecat cultural values: being caring, agile, imaginative and innovative, and ensuring we foster a sense of community more than ever and feeling that, even though we are on our own, we are not alone!

In the name of keeping the spirits up, we have collectively rolled out numerous internal campaigns to support each and every Polecat in staying professionally motivated, upbeat, included - even though we are secluded - and above all, in good physical and mental health.

In normal times, regular schedule is dictated for us by external forces such as school-runs, train times, work meetings and appointments which are traditionally managed within these schedules, but the past few weeks have forced us to craft our own creative ways to distinguish work time from downtime.

I am very proud to say, that we as a team, as a company, stepped up to the challenge fantastically well. Not only do we keep the business pouring in from a commercial sense, we have flourished culturally as well, coming up with all kinds of motivating and fun ideas to keep us going. So here are a few of our tips and processes that we would like to share with the world...

Daily Team Updates:

During our daily team check-ins, it is not just an exchange of work ideas and work schedules, we try to encourage the confidence you have in your personal ability to accomplish the task at hand, which is perhaps the most crucial trait of any remote worker. We believe that this confidence is a 'make or break' when working remotely.

Still, that confidence can be difficult to maintain as a remote worker. So how do we inspire this intrinsic value in us Polecats. We believe the solution lies in a mix of digital tools and strategies aimed at easing barriers to feedback, building trust and establishing workflows that inspire self-confidence and collaboration across teams, and of course, the ability to keep it all going.

Sharing of Homeworking Tips:

As remote working is no longer an optional perk for our employees, and despite the fact most of us are experienced home-workers, we continue to share tips on how to work remotely effectively. We think the trick is to focus on how to keep our minds and mental well-being in check whilst staying efficient at work.

We frequently try to remind the team that getting the small things right makes all the difference. It is amazing how many various quarantine routines and remote working tips are out there now, but we are sticking by our guns and encouraging our people to keep a simple routine done well.

Mental Health Well-Being:

While it is fair to say that feelings of stress and anxiety are a completely normal response to our unusual and unprecedented circumstances, it is important more than ever that we try and curb the impact it is having on us both emotionally and physically.

To alleviate feelings of isolation, we have set up a virtual office where people can dial-in, stay muted or chat to colleagues, but where we can see each other and emulate an office environment. Simple yet effective way to foster collaboration and create a more comfortable work environment. It also serves somewhat as the very important “watercooler” channel to encourage break-time chatters.

Another fantastic method to lift the spirits up is our ‘foodie’ channel which we have affectionately called: “Alice and Anne’s Kitchen” 😊. Turns out, we Polecats, are serious foodies right across the company. We share recipes, cooking tips and all kinds of experiences from our kitchens, not to mention, there is a truly exceptional exchange of international cuisines going on.

A sample of homemade culinary delights from the Polecat Team

A new look for an old hobby is another one of our tips to stimulate us during downtime. We believe, there are lots of benefits to social activities, especially now, when we are cooped up for long periods of time. So activities such as puzzles, growing vegetables or needlework are great ways to pass time. The old-fashioned hobbies are seriously back en vogue, but they are not just frivolous activities, they protect both our mental and physical health during these strange times.

Family Time:

Many of us Polecats have young families. The challenges of being at home 24/7 with children whilst having to work regular business hours is no easy task, but luckily Polecat has always fostered a 'family first' culture - it's one of our strengths - and now in these warped times that open, thoughtful and realistic approach pays dividends. Getting the work/family balance right is incredibly important and scheduling in that time for your children, other family members and close friends further afield, is a must and encouraged. Needless to say our Polecat kids have popped up on many a video conference call in the previous weeks and they are more than welcome to join at any time - it certainly brings a smile everytime we get a video-conference-gatecrasher.

Finally, our belief promoting downtime is one of the most important tips we encourage our staff to honour. We believe downtime greatly improves the possibility of generating innovative thoughts. The brain needs downtime to remain productive, gain perspective, generate ideas and gives the mind an opportunity to provide new inspirations and insights.

On that note, we hope you all enjoy the sunny weather we are having right now. Let it provide you with serene quiet times that allow you to recharge, reflect and leave you feeling refreshed for the coming days.