5 tips to survive working from home without going coco-corona - and how you'll be more productive than ever
COVID-19 shows we are still a socially dependent species despite globalisation and the impact of the digital economy on our lives.
Indeed, I’ve been surprised that so many people have found working from home quite confronting. Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent years and we rely far less on in-person contact for most daily transactions today, even basic communications.
That it’s been such a shock to the system reinforces that the need for human connection is still as strong as ever.
Five years ago, I began working from home as a communications consultant after decades of working in fast-paced and highly social newsrooms and offices.
In those frantic times gone by, I yearned for a moment of silence to be able to attend to the task at hand without being interrupted.
In the home office, with only the dog for company, I have craved such human interaction.
As a sociable person, it took me some time to adapt to the situation and to find my mojo in the home workspace. But I have.
However, many of the millions of people world-wide who have found themselves in isolation have barely had time to gather their belongings from the office for their new start.
In the blink of an eye, their work and domestic lives have crashed into one.
So, how do you make the most of the situation now? How do you give yourself the best start? How do you deal with distractions? And how can you keep a work mindset?
Here’s five insights from what I’ve learned from working at home:
When quarterly circulation figures next ping the email boxes of newspaper publishers, it is likely to be another sea of red.
I am old enough that I recall those days as an editor when you could experience the adrenalin rush of a circulation spike. No such thing today. In the past five years, moderate decline, say negative one to three per cent, is as good as it gets.
The romantic in us wants to believe newspaper decline will plateau. There is no evidence of this.
However, there are seven big mistakes that newspapers regularly make that are killing them. Avoid them, and you can make print stronger for longer.
Muhammad Ali's passing should remind us that not only did he redefine boxing, but he was the consummate innovator - a man who provides lessons to anyone who wants to survive and thrive in a dog-eat-dog world.
Ali teaches us that innovation is not about iteration - it's about blazing trails.
"I don't have to be what you want me to be, " Ali told reporters after the bout against Sonny Liston in 1964 that launched his career. "I'm free to be what I want."
Publishers, who have suffered an unprecedented pummelling in recent years, could do with some of that self-belief.
One media organisation that is displaying its own brand of magic is Fairfax Media New Zealand. Like a young Cassius Clay, the Fairfax team is willing to do things its own way.
For the past 18 months, Flame Tree Media has helped design and implement the company's signature editorial transformation program News Rewired.
In May, Fairfax NZ won the award for corporate innovation at the International News Media Association (INMA) awards in London - along with best in show for Asia/Pacific. In all, Fairfax NZ won four first places - more than any media brand. In the world.
So, what are the Kiwis doing that others aren't?
Five traits are common to those who become world beaters.
This was never going to end well.
"I don't care what you tell me, what you show me, I don't believe this is going to work." And with that one statement, Houston, we had a problem.
The subject matter was a major editorial transformation project. It was bold, innovative and high risk. It was also absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, this senior executive wasn't having a bar of it. Deep down it rattled her values.
In the end, she stepped out of the way of the juggernaut of change that was bearing down on her and her newsroom. She was an editor with deep experience, wide respect - an honourable person. But without her leadership, without her belief in the project, it was destined to fail.
This tale is sadly a typical one of why editorial change programs fail - captured here in what I refer to as the Seven Deadly Sins of Transformation.
Stuart Howie is a communications and media consultant. He runs Flame Tree Media and is the author of The DIY Newsroom. Stuart has worked in media and publishing for more than 30 years as an executive, editor and strategist.