The present lockdown experienced by the majority working from home has lost its sex-appeal. The novelty of being at home, and often working in a onesie or your pyjamas, no longer has the initial draw and excitement of going back to the inner child. Things have become “business as usual” in the home setting with all the added distractions of working from home.
Most of us are now in the second phase, of trying to motivate ourselves to work through our to-do lists, meet deadlines and engage in the work environment fully motivated and inspired to achieve, to close projects, search clients, close deals, follow up, and meet on-line as the “buzz” of colleagues going about the same, is simply not there.
Talking to a colleague or boss on-line with the family photograph, wardrobe or favourite plant in the background simply does not cut it! The human smell has gone, the human touch is distant and the to-do list competes with the distraction of whatever is happening within the family, which friend is calling, in the kitchen, on the patio or simply outside.
In a recent training, conducted over an interactive business platform similar to Skype, designed to assist with the transfer to working and managing people from home, raised many issues. The three top issues raised were:
- How to create a new structure and working regime within a confined space?
- How to maintain the level of support and contact with team members with a limited toolbox?
- How to motivate and inspire myself to perform effectively and productivity without the human contact and “touch” of peers and subordinates.
In the first module we primarily addressed the work structure and regime by sharing ideas and understanding of what colleagues are doing to protect their performance and stay motivated. It sounds so simple, however when you live in a 2-3 room apartment and there are two of you competing for space, or you are the only one, emotions interfere prying on feelings of lack of security, exhaustion through constant screen time, lack of support in terms of humour, someone to have a coffee with and the importance of recognition when you pass by one of your subordinates to simply say “Hi”.
What are the eight top tips to manage distractions, motivate and inspire yourself?
- Dress for work – start your day as you would normally if you were going to the office. Get out of your pyjamas and go through the routine of preparing yourself for work. In doing this you shift your attitude to a work attitude.
- Use the normal daily routine to your favour. Avoid trying to search for that perfect variant. Likely it does not exist. Get up at the “normal” time, eat breakfast, prepare your lunch that you would normally take with you to the office. Keep it to eat later. Schedule in breaks in accordance with what is on your to-do list and enjoy a virtual coffee break or lunch with a colleague. Close the working day at the scheduled time, informing colleagues that you are finished for the day with a message on the screen.
- Educate international colleagues who are on a different time zone that just because you are working from home does not mean you are available 24/7. Set the parameters and inform them. There are always exceptions to this rule when there is a crisis of some kind, as there would be if you were working from the office.
- Stay in contact – don't wait for a work-related question to check in with your colleagues and subordinates. Check in with them to “see” how they are feeling, and to share human contact. If you feel down and distracted, call someone that you know always gives you a boost, and take 10 minutes to share issues outside of work. Doing this helps to alleviate the “I’m on my own feeling” and pick up your spirits to return to whatever you were working on.
- Recognise and be open with how you are feeling – acknowledge your feelings and work with them through being kind to yourself. Use techniques such as deep breathing, tuning into your senses for 5-10 minutes, stretching and loosening up, away from your work-space, or try meditating. It is quite normal to feel insecure, angry and fearful. However, these emotions when suppressed and buried only undermine your confidence taking away your self-empowerment.
- Use any distraction to tune into your senses. Instead of fighting it, flow with it. Follow the distraction for a few minutes through sight or hearing. Be truly present to it. When the distraction naturally comes to an end, return to your work. You will find that by being mindful and flowing with the distraction that you are now able to focus once again.
- Trust yourself and trust others. Systems to a certain extent are able to track productivity, but at the end of the day this is about building relations and not vica- versa. Having trust that colleagues and subordinates are doing their tasks is important both for mind and body. If you have agreed with your subordinates on what they are to do, trust that they will do it, being open for questions and nurturing them when they are having an off-day.
- Cut subordinates, peers and yourself some slack. The most important aspect of being human, has been removed. Human beings are social animals. The social recognition given and received from others is vital to our survival. It is normal and natural to miss that, leaving our minds and ultimately our bodies to fill the gap.
To learn more about training to assist with transfer of working and managing people from home, email me at email@example.com
Rachel Shackleton is an entrepreneur who owns and manages Green Key Personal Development and Green Key Health. Working with local and multinational organisations, she is a public speaker and trainer in the spheres of leadership, communication and customer excellence. She ensures sustainable productivity and profitability through healthy self-management and leadership practices, ensuring a focused and successful workforce.
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