Virtual Working and Self-Awareness

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Coping with changes in work and routine

Virtual workingThese are strange times and many of us are being required to change our working habits overnight.  It will be interesting to see what the longer-term impact on working patterns might be, as both employers and employees are putting in place work-from-home arrangements that did not previously exist.  Once the Coronavirus threat has passed, how many people will prefer to continue with at least some work-from-home days, now that their employers have made it possible?

In the meantime, however, the change in work patterns can be quite disruptive to people’s motivation and thereby their ability to perform their job well.  Many of LifeForward’s clients have put in place precautionary measures; consequently, their teams are working from home and online/virtual coaching has become popular.

How individuals cope with both the change itself and working at home will vary.  Personal preferences will be a key factor – for example, some people enjoy working in a calm environment and some thrive when surrounded by others; some people like a fixed routine and resist change, whilst others are stimulated by change and find it refreshing.  Our Insights Discovery® personality profiles are quite informative on these personal preferences.  As a coach, the interesting question is not just what people prefer, but how people tackle enforced arrangements, their attitude to working away from colleagues and what they do to address potential issues.

Self-awareness is valuable here.  Be aware of what keeps you engaged at work, which people add value and motivate you on a regular basis and who you speak to most frequently.  But also be aware of others’ needs.  Who might need your input?  Who will find it easier to complete their work if you check-in with them from time to time?  Who do you add value to and motivate – and what is the best way of achieving this within this new regime?

At LifeForward we are a virtual team and work remotely from each other.  But we see this as a positive because it allows us to work flexibly and we can accommodate our personal and work commitments more effectively.  But also, we know that we are just a “Teams” meeting, WhatsApp message, email or phonecall away from each other.  We use all of these forms of communication frequently to address work issues, but also to simply check-in with each other, arrange a meeting, share a joke or comment on the weather.

This is a critical part of virtual working, particularly if you are used to sitting with your team in a busy office.  If you are based at home and it feels too quiet or lonely, then take action!  For example:

  • Be proactive and set up calls with everyone in your team
  • Touch base with key team members every day
  • Drop people a line as you grab your coffee; exchange news and swap stories
  • Create those “water-cooler” moments.

On the flip-side, it may be that the home environment is too hectic as a workplace or the layout doesn’t allow for a discreet working zone.  Again, think about your priorities from a workplace perspective and don’t be afraid to experiment:

  • Try different places to sit and work
  • Rearrange your space to suit your needs
  • Find a comfortable chair
  • Are you inspired by the view from a window – or is that a distraction?

Although not perfect, you should be able to improve your mindset and motivation if you can find the “best” spot for work.

A change of environment can alter thinking too, helping us to see things from a new perspective and inspiring creativity.  Be open-minded to your new work pattern and see what unexpected benefits may arise.

2020 is shaping up to be an unusual year, but don’t let stress responses drive behaviour.  Continue to engage your emotionally intelligent competencies to help yourself and others to adapt to short and longer-term changes.  Here at LifeForward we favour a positive mindset.  Much as we miss being able to see our clients in person, we are still enjoying engaging them remotely to continue their coaching and make an impact.

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