Bao Tram: What difficulties did you have when COVID-19 first broke out?
Hong Bui: The UK’s first lockdown was in March 2020. I’ve been working from home since then. There was chaos at the beginning. The difficulty for me was that it turned our life upside down. There were long queues at the supermarket for food. People were panicked. I wasn't sure how my life and work would be. I couldn’t visit my friends and they couldn’t come to see me. We couldn’t go out for picnics as we usually do when the summer comes.
Bao Tram: How did you deal with the situation?
Hong Bui: There was nothing you could do in that situation, could you? The whole world can’t deal with the situation even now.
Bao Tram: We can’t do anything but accept the reality that we have to live with the virus and be ready to work from home whenever the situation gets really bad. If that happens, have you got any tips for working remotely?
Hong Bui: The UK Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, often referred to as CIPD, and other organizations have developed tips for working remotely effectively. I personally have some. For example:
1. Appreciate remote working. The pandemic is deadly serious. Not going out or not going to work reduces the possibility that we get the coronavirus. Therefore, appreciate it, appreciate the opportunities to work from home, and think positively that we are restoring the environment by not travelling.
2. Set up a workspace for yourself regardless of how big or small your home is. Sometimes the workspace is more in our brain than a physical space. We need to adapt to it.
3. Make sure you have a secure internet connection, remote access to your company’s network if there is one, and all neccessary files, hardware, and software that you need for your work.
4. Write a daily to-do list. This prevents you from wandering on social media or reading online newspapers or watching youtube too much. The to-do list keeps you focused on what you need to do.
Bao Tram: How about tips for healthy remote working?
Hong Bui: I think I have several tips, as follows:
1.Put safety first. A child died of electric shock in Vietnam while he was studying online. That was sad. We don’t want to see such accidents happen again, do we? So make working from home safe.
2.Stretch your body and muscles every hour or so. Practising deep breathing for about five minutes now and then is also good for your brain and heart.
3.Drink sufficient water. Remember, water, not a soft drink or beer, because we can’t do much exercise during the lockdown. I start my day with a warm glass of water with lime and a hint of honey to boost my immune system.
4.Be kind and foster relationships with colleagues, friends and family via video phone calls and messaging. Life is too short to do otherwise.
5. Sharing housework with your partner and children is a good way to get some physical exercise. The whole family should agree on when is work or study time, and when is family time.
Bao Tram: Have you got any tips for managing remote teams?
Hong Bui: During the pandemic, I have been working with various global teams. I’m in the UK. Some of my team are in the US, and others are in Vietnam, New Zealand, and Australia. We are far from one another so we have to trust and respect one another. We share information and try to hold regular online meetings to keep us updated. We agree on the way each team member will work, and we support one another by listening to work issues as well as personal or family issues. Trust and empathy are important for managing remote teams. I think they are the most important factors in sustaining good teamwork.
|Hong Bui, Associate Professor at the School of Management, University of Bath
Bao Tram: What tips do you find the most useful personally and will you maintain them on a regular basis after the pandemic is over?
Hong Bui: I can answer you in two words: adaptation and responsibility. First, we need to respond and adapt to new situations and new environments all the time. Our brains should be responsive to changes and treat them positively. We don’t know what will happen to us tomorrow, because we live in a very volatile world because of climate change and what we have done to the earth. So we should live and act responsibly to ourselves, our society, and our world.
Bao Tram: Thank you, Hong, for joining us today and sharing with us your remote working experience during the pandemic.
Hong Bui: Thanks so much for having me. See you soon!