Editor’s note: This article is written from the perspective of a fictional character, Sandrine, the protagonist of I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge. You can learn more about the book at https://iamincharge.club
This story is a sequel to Confinement, published in April 2020.
Sandrine has now been working at home for seven weeks. So many things have adapted during this time that in some ways it all feels normal to her now, but from time to time she is reminded that this is not the permanent reality. Like when Gaspar, the team’s manager, announced during the virtual hot chocolate that the team would continue to work from home for at least another four weeks.
Sandrine remembers how Mary encouraged her to hop on the first virtual hot chocolate call just a month ago. She laughs to herself as she sees how different her mindset was back then.
During that first call, she heard about some of her colleagues who were struggling with homeschooling their kids. She could feel their frustration but it was difficult for her to relate to as she doesn’t have any kids of her own. However, it did remind her how good she was when tutoring younger kids when she was in high school, and so she offered to teach maths every day for three kids that happened to be in the same class.
Sandrine now has a card on the team board for teaching maths. If it sounds weird to you, it also sounded weird to her when Gaspar suggested putting it on there. She resisted the idea at first, but she was convinced when Gaspar reasoned, “By doing this you’ll be helping Julian and Jenny, and therefore you are helping the team. It is logical that this important work should be on the team board.”
Sandrine remembers her promise to Mary to let her know how the virtual hot chocolate calls were going. She fires up the messaging app on her phone.
Sandrine finishes preparing her virgin mojito just in time for the video call.
She sees Mary joining and is stunned to see her in sunglasses, big earrings, and crazy make-up.
“Umm. Hi Mary. That, that’s an interesting look you have there.”
“I just thought I’d fabulize myself for the meeting daaarling.” Mary responds, before turning off the video filter.
“Hahaha, oh I get it now. Phew, it was just a video filter. For a moment there I thought that isolation had really gotten to you.”
Mary and Sandrine enjoy a good laugh before Mary continues, “You should have seen their faces when I joined the team call with that filter on this week.”
“Good to see you spreading the fun.”
“Well, I believe it’s a shared responsibility. Now, tell me, what have you been learning from your virtual hot chocolate calls?”
“Well there was certainly something there that I didn’t see.”
“I’m now homeschooling maths to some of the other team members’ kids each day.”
“Two of my colleagues were struggling with homeschooling their kids who happened to be in the same class and I offered to help out. My 45 minute investment frees up two other team members giving an hour and a half back to the team. But there’s more to it than that.”
“Well besides being a good distraction in the day for me, as it reminds me when I tutored maths to some of the younger students in high school, it’s also taken on a life of its own.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the kids started enjoying it so much that they invited some friends, we now have a group of six. And they gave themselves a team name, the VVs.”
“What does that stand for?”
“I don’t know.” Sandrine laughs, “I guess they want to have their secrets. Anyway, it gets even better.”
Mary sips her drink, eyes locked on the screen in a state of disbelief.
“Salman, he’s a designer from another team in our company, well when he heard about this he decided he wanted to join the movement and is now teaching the kids English. They love his style, especially when he dresses up in a costume on Fridays.”
“Way to go! You are doing a great service to all those parents, and the kids too. Your impact is greater than you think you know.”
“All thanks to you for encouraging me to attend something I was just going to blow off. It’s amazing how a little shift in mindset can provoke such a big impact.”
“Indeed. Thanks for sharing that update with me. I’m definitely going to look at my team mocktail meeting a little differently now.”
Sandrine and Mary go on to catch up about other things. At the end of the call, Sandrine reflects on her experiences over the last few weeks.
“Wow, so much has changed and everyone has adapted in so many new and different ways. If it’s possible to change this quickly in reaction to something, I wonder what’s really possible if I take a more proactive approach.”
Ever felt like Sandrine, where a small step made a big impact?
How has your mindset shifted since Sandrine’s last article? What experiment would you like to try next to add some fun to your team or take some pressure off your colleagues?
Read about Sandrine’s biggest transformation in I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge, available on Amazon now.