I’ve now been working in a very different way for the last few weeks. Its fabulous to work for an organisation that has successfuly got 99.9% of its staff working from home inside 10 days and is able to continue servicing our customers through these different times. I thought I would share some thoughts on this. I know all our situations are different – I don’t have kids at home for example (but I do have a very needy dog who is missing his therapy work) – but hopefully some of this is relevant. My top 10 thoughts are:
- It’s OK to find it hard at times. We have lost many of our structures and routines and normal channels of social contact. Most don’t like to own up to finding things hard, but it’s normal to struggle at the best of times and especially now. Be brave; talk about what you are finding difficult as others my have ideas and help. For me, adjusting to working from home every day is hard, I used to find it difficult to put boundaries between work and home life and now that’s even harder, which creates tension.
- Maintain a sense of structure. It’s so easy to let work and non-work merge into a 24×7 mix. I’ve tried to work out a discipline – for example taking a lunch break and shutting down my work devices at a certain point in the evening – otherwise I tend not to sleep well at night. Another friend ‘walks to work’ by going for a walk round the common in the morning and when she gets back, she goes to the ‘office’ and starts work.
- Look for the positives. We can’t go to the pub or go to social events or do some of our hobbies, but that creates time to do different things or do the things we used to in different ways. I organised an online virtual sailing regatta for my sailing club this week, great fun and in some ways more fun than normal sailing as we could all talk to each other during the race – the banter was fab. Lots of organisations are putting things online – last week the National Theatre did a great version of Jane Eyre, which is online till Thursday evening, followed by Treasure Island. More details here.
- Keep physically active. Sarah has got me doing Mr Motivator videos! Lots of people are doing other ones with their friends and families too.
- Be thankful for our blessings. All our situations are different and it’s easy to look at what we can’t do or what we have lost. But there are huge positives, connecting with different people in different ways, having time to think and relax rather than dashing around, travelling less (good for the planet!). I’m sure we all have many other things we can be thankful for.
- Do something different. This is a great time to do something different like learn something new online. The Open University (who I used to work for) has a huge range of online courses here, some relevant to work, some great for learning something different. And who knows where that may lead, maybe even an online degree?
- Be tolerant of others. We are all under pressure, and this accentuates traits that, in more normal times, we are better at managing. With use of tools like messaging and WhatsApp, it’s easy to write things that may be taken the wrong way, so think before you send messages or emails.
- Stay grounded with the outside world. My favourite link at present is the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, I’ve been watching the little baby eagles hatching over the last few days and the parents feeding them. The link is here . Kruger national park are also doing live safaris here. And zoos like Chester Zoo are doing virtual days at the zoo (Fridays for Chester Zoo on their Facebook page).
- Support each other. Some of your work colleagues may be at home alone, as may some family members and other friends. Think about who may be struggling and who would love it if you reached out to help or talk to them.
- Focus on outcomes. In difficult circumstances, it’s easy to lead by telling people what to do. What can be more powerful is to lead by articulating the challenge we face and then seeing what creative ideas are generated that may solve the issue or problem in a completely different way.
I hope that’s of some use, what ideas do you have? If I can leave you with one link. My son Brendan is now in London, still singing and the choir he is in did a fantastic cover of the Cyndi Lauper song True Colors. You may find it appropriate and Cyndi even shared it. Click on the picture to listen to it.
Please stay safe, think of others and look for the positives and opportunities this brings. The current situation brings many opportunities for us to grow and develop, albeit not in the way we thought when we set our New Year’s resolutions.