Joao Alves

Engineering Manager at Skyscanner

Leading people through Covid-19

Posted at — Mar 28, 2020

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I’ve seen several articles out there with great tips on how to best work from home. For engineers on how to manage their day and make the most out of it, how to stay productive and so on. And for managers to keep their teams going strong, engaged and delivering through this time. All of that advice is great and I’m sure many people, as I do, appreciate everyone that decided to write and share their experiences. Thank you 🙏.

That said, I would like to look at all of this from a different perspective. More than the working from home, I want to focus on the current scenario and how it’s impacting everyone’s life. Almost all of us (not this amazing gentleman) are living through unprecedented times. Regardless if we’re working from the office, home or any other random place, we can not expect anyone to work to the same standard they would in a normal situation.

We’re not just working from home right now, we’re working from home during a pandemic that is killing thousands around the world and will for sure affect most of us in many different ways.

So, what I want to do is to list a few questions/statements that you as a manager might have during this period and what should be the answer. Spoiler alert, the answer is always the same:

For these and many other questions/statements, the answer must be IT’S OK! I’m sure if you think about the last few weeks you can easily identify yourself as well with some, if not all, of those statements. I know I can.

Let me tell you, it was ok for you to feel like that, it is ok for anyone to feel like that. Again, this is far from a normal situation and we all need to support each other throughout this period so we can all get out of this stronger when we leave it behind.

If you’re still not sure why someone could feel like that, have their performance affected or just not being at their best, think about this:

This is just a small list of things that any of us can be experiencing but in the end, even if we don’t have any of those close concerns, we’re all are human. Looking at the news every day and seeing others dying by the thousands can be a whole level of traumatic experience on its own.

If I can add my own two cents, I feel particularly worried about the whole thing. If I’ll be able to protect my 3 year old and my wife from whatever is and will happen in the near future. And with the virus itself, I’m lucky enough to still have 3 alive grandparents and am now quite worried about them if they do get infected. Will I be able to see them again? I don’t even know when I can fly back home regardless. So, yeah I can get distracted quite easily with both local news and news from home, and guess what? IT’S OK!

Just wanted to write this to give another perspective to the situation we’re all living through. As a people manager, despite not having that much experience in the role, I think these days the most important thing I can do for my team is to be there for them and support them with whatever they need.

We need to trust that everyone is doing the best they can throughout this and be there for them all the way. If we all do our part, we’ll all get out on the other side much stronger.

And I’m sure when this is all over, working from home or working remotely will be a totally different game. Society and businesses will learn a lot from this experience and the landscape will be very different from the recent past. So, by all means, read and consume all the content out there on the subject and learn from it, I’m sure it’ll be useful soon, now as much as we would love, is just not the right time to apply some of it.

Stay safe, stay strong and stay home everyone. We’ll get through this 💪

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