Bringing Your Whole Shelf to Work (And Other Lessons in Mass Self-isolation)

The team at The Unmistakables hosted our first Nicerlation session on Google Hangout at lunchtime yesterday, giving lots of different people living through mass self-isolation a chance to get together and have a chat from anywhere in the world.

It goes without saying that many of us are having a really tough time right now – be it in our personal or professional lives – but we were interested in discussing whether being forced into our homes actually offered any benefits to the people on the call.


Ben Brooks-Dutton’s whole shelf - Nicerlation in full swing

Here were some of the observations we discussed:

1. Making remote eye contact

Ironically, given so many of us have never worked so far away from each other before, remote video meetings are allowing us to focus on many people at the same time. In a large meeting room – or even sitting around a small table – you can’t actually look at everyone at the same time. Services like Zoom and Google Hangouts are offering a different kind of togetherness and collaboration that once may have felt like a poor relation to ‘in person’ meetings. Many of us are now seeing the tangible benefits of this way of working.

2. Bringing your whole shelf to work

Video-calling from our homes gives our colleagues a different level of intimacy than they are perhaps used to experiencing in shared office environments. There has been lots of talk over recent years about ‘bringing your whole self to work’ but this is suddenly being magnified by being together at this intersection of our professional and personal lives. We’re no longer just bringing our whole self to work, we’re being our own shelf, too. It was noted that some of us have also enjoyed a little interiors curation and window dressing along the way (or should that be ‘Windows dressing’?)

3. Flexible working on speed

Organisations that were prepared for flexible and remote working are, in many cases, dealing well with the challenges of their colleagues being physically distanced. Others are seeing a rapid acceleration of policies that they had perhaps been left collecting dust. We are now having to configure society as networks and not as machines, which is probably making this era the most progressive shift in the way we work since the Industrial Revolution.

4. Self-isolators are not all built the same

Many businesses work hard to understand the professional personalities of their workforce, which helps ensure they have the right balance of skills and can build effective collaboration between team members. With such abrupt change in our ways of working, we need to understand how different individuals are responding and what they need to see from their business leaders. Empathetic businesses will strive to understand how their people tick and work with them according to their needs. Extraverts and introverts, for example, will react very differently in this new and unprecedented climate.

5. Looking to Europe for what happens next

Some European countries, such as Italy, France and Luxembourg are a number of weeks ahead of the UK in their response to Coronavirus, and remote working has given some professionals a unique perspective on business. Relationships between colleagues, in some cases, are being built in ways we never thought possible and many people are being so much kinder and more sincere. Decision-making in meetings has become so much quicker, too – perhaps in times of crisis we no longer have the luxurious option of procrastination.

6. We can all do something to help

The Nicerlation concept was designed to start conversations about how we might all help each other a little, whether through empathetic conversation or real action. We mustn’t let fear stop us from helping and doing what we can for each other, prioritising the vulnerable in our communities.

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