TOP TIPS: Useful tips for being a public sector communicator while working from home and keeping a lid on it all, FFS


It’s been three weeks since the lockdown began and people were overnight toddlers and cats walking in on meetings became the new normal.

People have been forced to get to get to grips with new ways of working.

COVID-19 has done many things. Making the IT Police irrelevant is just one.

So, a few weeks in I’ve asked the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group for tips learned from their lived experience of the new normal. There’s a roll of honour at the end.

Huge thank you to them.

Scroll and learn.

Top tips for the new normal

If you’ve got young children who need a lot of attention

One tip for this is to split the day into ‘Mum time’ and ‘Dad time’ if you possibly can. That way there’s a clear bank of time and blurring the edges is kept to a minimum. Communicate this to the rest of your team.

Or lock yourself away if that works for you.

If you’ve a small child and you’re separated

If your child spends time with you and then travels to a partner work one week on and one week off. Be clear about this with your colleagues. Honesty is the key.

If you need to manage your workload

An out-of-office kept on permanently that says that the team is doing covid-19 activity only and nothing else is a gold plated bat that bats off the crappy crap. Do it. We’re in a pandemic, FFS.

If your video calls have become a time suck with no structure

Suggest an agenda to manage people’s time.

If you’re being sent piles of crap and being asked to make something from it

Be really clear with service areas that you want the info oven ready. A template that asks for who, what, when, where, why and how is a good starting point. Over to them. Go.

If you feel as though you’re sprinting but going backwards

You’re not alone. Everyone is. Lower your expectations and be realistic.

If you need to escape and recharge #1

Open a window. Turn your phone off for a space. Give yourself a break.

If you need to escape and recharge #2

Take a break. Not a break on the toilet with your smartphone so you can read emails in a different part of the house but an actual break. A different activity. A physical activity. A quick burst of Joe Wicks PE with Joe. A palette cleanser that takes you away from where you’ve been. Exercise first thing.

If you need to lighten the mood in your video conference

The snap camera app can be downloaded to PC and give you a different look. Good for team meetings where you need to lighten-up a bit. Not quite so for a 10 Downing Street media briefing.

If you’re on a boring video conference

Mute yourself and hula hoop. It helps you concentrate on what’s being said and allows you to exercise.

If you are struggling to keep up with a list of video conference actions

Add 15-minutes to each call to allow you to make a list of the actions.

If you yearn for social time

Plan some social time to allow you to recharge.

If you are likely to be interrupted

Have an amnesty at the start of the meeting to say who and what will interrupt. It’s human. It’s a reminder that you are spinning many plates. It reduces the fear that a demand for biscuits by a little person will somehow be bad.

If you’re in local government and one side refuses to share vital public health messages

Stay safe, stay home. There’s variations on this. If one side or other won’t share a call from constitutional services to make welfare calls that sees them encouraged to share public health messages has worked. There’s a time for scrutiny. We live in a democracy. But can we help keep each other alive?

If you need to concentrate

Noise cancelling headphones or better still bluetooth ones that allow you to make a cup of tea while on a call.

A huge thank you to tip contributers Liz Grieve, Jodie Humphries, Nick Lakeman, Kirsten Gobha, Joanne Cook, Suzie Evans, Carolyne Mitchell, Marten J Rollins, Cara Marchant, Peter Holt, Luke Marshall-Waterfield, Charlotte Hollis, Katie Rodgers, Stephen Penman, Abigail Gilbert, Katy Brown, Jocelyn Astle, Rhy Burgess, Louise Roger Goodey, Suzanne Downey, Chris Gomm, Lucy Hartley, Victoria Taylor and Laurie Crabtree. 

Picture credit: Documerica / Flickr 


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