A day in the (locked down) life

A year ago I wrote a blog post talking about a day in the life of a BA. I thought that now would be a good time to take a repeat that exercise and reflect on what a day in the life is like right now. Along with the rest of the world, the lucky part of the world anyway, I’m working from home. Let me set the scene before I start my day.

When we first started working from home I was on the kitchen table, my husband works from home normally so he is set up in the office. This was fine for a couple of days, I could see into the garden and was close to the fridge. Then my son started schooling at home. He was sat at the kitchen table with me and while that felt fine it also meant that I had more interruptions. Something had to change. Now I’m at an improvised desk made out of 2 bookcases, I’m sat in front of the window on the 1st floor. The view has definitely contributed to me feeling connected to the outside world which has helped keep me sane.

Improvised desk 🙂

Anyway, let’s stop watching how many times that man from round the corner has been out walking his dog already and get on with some work. It’s Friday, it’s no longer sunny and it’s time to get the radio on and get stuck in.

Even more so, people are all working different hours. Some people have young children which means they might work late into the night and spend more time in the day with them and away from work. That means that, even though I’m an early bird, there is always something to catch up with when I open my laptop. More than ever these comms are through multiple channels. In the office you find people mainly communicate by email if they aren’t catching up in person. Nowadays I get instant messages through slack and teams, and a lot of them. The majority of the business are using teams. Initially I found it really distracting having all these notifications popping up, even worse than a stream of people at your desk. I’ve needed to find a balance between being contactable and not being bombarded. So far I’ve left everything open but turned off most of the notifications. This means that I can check in when I want and not constantly. To be honest some times of the day I find myself checking too often but I’m going to monitor this and if I need to close some apps to concentrate then I’ll do that.

We are still having our stand ups. These are more important than ever now you can’t spin round on your chair and ask a question. Now the novelty of always being at home has worn off these have calmed down a bit, at first they were quite a bit longer than normal which was to be expected. They still follow the normal format. The scrum master will share the electronic version of the board and we talk through the tickets. It will be interesting when we get back to the office to see the old physical board and what we were doing at that time. It can be harder to keep track of what is being talked about, some of the tickets are very technical and I can lose track of which user story they apply to. I find I need to concentrate more than when we stood at the physical board.

Different to looking out of the window in the office

Once that finishes I have to finish writing some user scenarios to add to an RFP for a HR project. The business want to upgrade their HR system and I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to our HR department about their requirements. The plan was to start with HR, then go out and talk to different areas of the business to get the requirements for different sites. When that was completed I’d speak to managers and employees about their requirements. As the severity of the virus situation increased HR became more and more involved and more difficult to get hold of. It was deemed prudent to stop requirements gathering. A small project team of BA, PM and procurement looked over what already existed. We assessed what we had and decided to put together an initial RFP and use that to assess a couple of providers. I’ve transposed all the requirements across and just need to create some more user scenarios to give the document a bit of life. I want to make sure that all HR areas are represented so am going to spend this time finishing these before I send it to procurement for them to put the finishing touches on and send it out.

I finish that this morning, just in time for lunch. I take my son out for a quick walk. It’s good getting this time to spend together, as long as we haven’t already fallen out over my inability to help with his maths homework. Luckily we haven’t today and we have a nice wander in the fresh air which revitalises us ready for the afternoon.

Next, I have a call with a third party. Everyone on the call has their webcam on. I’m still hesitant about this, one day I’ll give in and scare people with the hobo look that I’m perfecting but not yet. I have noticed though that people are putting their cameras on less than they were at the beginning, maybe people have stopped getting dressed in a morning! This meeting doesn’t feel much different than usual as we would normally catch up over vc anyway. Business as usual, I get an action to look into how we can accommodate interest rate changes in a finance calculator that the contact centre use. This is an unexpected change so we’re not currently sure about the best way to do this in order to get the information the agent needs without adding a lot of complexity to the journey.

One of the objectives cascaded down from the very top of the business is to grow our sales for specific product types.  I now have a call to join where the trading team are going to explain how they work and what help they need from Projects and IT in order to help them achieve this. The traders, who are running the meeting, are a bit worried that it is going to be a bit dry, and are finding it really off-putting having to talk and not know who, if anyone, is actually listening. They do a good job though and a few of us ask questions. It is interesting hearing what they are doing to increase sales and the problems they have. A lot of people from all different areas of the department are on the call and will hopefully be going away with good ideas about how we can help. I’m not sure how we can help with our software yet, I like to mull things over and come up with my best ideas when I’ve had chance to do that.

Finally today it’s time for our weekly sync. So, let me explain. A selection of teams all work on applications that either help the contact centre or help the customers to contact an agent. We all get together every week to talk about what we’re working on. We’re currently trying to all work towards the same goal rather than on individual pieces of work. The business give us a theme to work within and then we spend a quarter working to try and improve that area. This time the theme is financial safeguarding, basically not giving away money we don’t need to. I’m not about to give away any secrets on how you can get us to give you money, that would defeat the object of the theme for a start, but we have spent the past 3 months working to that goal. This is the first time that we’ve worked in this way and it hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as we’d like. We are currently spending a lot of time trying to work out how we can go quicker as we haven’t released as much value to the business as we’d hoped. On the flip side it feels like we’re learning a lot. We have a retro next week and that should help us articulate what we need to change for the next theme. On a more personal level I’m trying to learn how I can help more with this and how, as a group of BA’s in different teams, we can support each other and help our teams to succeed. It’s a difficult meeting to finish the week on, we find that everyone is getting a bit tired, maybe a bit grumpy so we need to be extra careful in how we talk. This was noticeable when we were in the office but at least then we could use body language to back up our words. While we’re all remote, talking without cameras a lot of the time, it is much easier to misunderstand peoples’ motives when they speak. I find myself trying to catch myself for critical comments and sarcasm which come across particularly badly. It’s not always easy but if I think I’ve not come across as I’d wanted I like to clarify, preferably straight away.

It’s time to make the journey home..oh wait! At least the commute doesn’t take long. Time to put all my work equipment away. As my desk area is in the corner of the lounge I like to make sure that I tidy it up. I don’t want it looking a mess and I don’t want it to take my attention over the weekend. I need to make sure that I keep home and work separate as much as I can. So I’ll switch everything off and tidy it away until Monday morning. Goodbye until next week.