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Imaginary wins best of industry award for its work on Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System

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Working close in a time of social distancing

Same work. New context.

June 15, 2020

We’re all good

At first it seemed an easy thing for us: Everybody work from home. Because our business is rooted in the internet, there is no technical barrier for working remote. And because we’ve had practice, each of us working from home at various times, to be there when the plumber came, to nurse a sprained ankle, or simply in response to so much snow and cold. Everyone on the team has, at one time or another, worked from home. Each of us has the equipment and the protocols to connect into the office network. So we’re all good, right?

Or maybe not

It’s a different thing when it’s day after day after day and it’s the couch you’re working from. It’s a different thing when everyone else who shares your home is staying home too. When the care of the babies is your responsibility now too. Or you need to keep one eye on the crayons and the furniture. Or the kids rough and tumble starts to break things. Or the teenagers and their angst seem to make the walls vibrate and you want to help them but how? When everyone in the building is using the same wifi channel and its so so slow. When there’s no commute to assert clean edges to the day. When do you start and when do you stop? And how do you keep yourself from flying off into the panic of world news? How do you keep your focus?

A new way of doing

Working from home is different. Not impossible, but different. We have to learn the way of it. We have to learn how to communicate intentionally all the little things that get expressed by presence. The ambient noise, the passing exchanges. We have to build new containments, assert lines of demarcation between work and not-work. We have to discover and establish new home dynamics of shared resources and responsibilities. 

We don’t know how long term the need for social distancing will be, but it’s very clear that we can’t sustain a posture of emergency hunker, waiting for things to “return to normal”. To get through this we must establish for ourselves a sustainable dynamic that we can inhabit for an extended period of time. We must work out the how of it. 

Though the home situation is different for each of us, we can help each other figure it out. We can share tips and trials. We can add non-project slack channels for the talk we would have had in passing. We can send an extra desk home with someone who needs it. We can keep asking: Hey, how are you doing out there?

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