When Life Shifts, Shift Your Practices
COVID-19 has upended life as we know it, and all generations have needed to adjust to the change and shift in our daily routines. Maybe you are getting the hang of this new work-from-home scenario now.
But as businesses reopen, you’ll need to transition back to the workplace, which will reflect the new normal of physical distancing measures. These changes won’t be easy and will take place slowly, so once again you’ll need to adjust how you work. Start by thinking about how your work practices have changed to meet the demands of these uncertain times.
Many of us have a set of daily practices that we use to achieve our career goals. In my book, Personal Next, I explore nine practices that athletes develop in pursuit of their competitive goals and how they can use these same practices to create success in a life post-sport. These same practices are often the drivers of success in high-performing businesspeople.
Whether you are a CEO, a manager, or just starting your career, the trick now is to bring awareness to these practices and to figure out how to make them work for your new situation.
If you take the time now to answer these questions about your own practices, you will adapt faster when you arrive back at your desk.
1. Proficiency: High performers are always developing their skillset and knowledge base and nurturing their aptitudes. How did you adapt your work practices in a home environment? What new things did you learn while working remotely? How will you need to adapt again when you return to work?
2. Regulation: An office environment requires you to self-regulate, but this is often easier to do since the office space is already regulated: There are no kids doing online schooling or mounds of laundry to distract you. When you were working from home, what were your unique challenges around self-regulation? What will you miss about working from home when you go back to the office? What are you looking forward to on your return?
3. Attitude: High achievers understand that results are influenced by how you approach work daily. How did your attitude shift when you were working from home? Did you notice a change in your co-workers or direct reports’ attitudes? When your attitude felt negative, how did you get back into a positive frame of mind?
4. Commitment: When you work in an office away from home, it is easier to separate your commitments, such as meetings, knowledge gaining, and administration, from your household chores, connecting with family and friends, and fostering personal well-being. How will your commitments need to change when you return to the workspace? What actions can you take now to ease the shift for you and your family and co-workers?
5. Tuned In: In the workspace, you must be sensitive to relationships, the environment, and how you contribute to the company as a whole. But the isolated nature of work from home may trigger reactions in family and co-workers that are unhelpful. Tuning in to these reactions is key. When someone makes a demand that seems unreasonable, ask yourself what the person is really asking for. Can you meet that need right now? If not, can you circle back later to do so?
6. Identity: How you craft your identity often includes factors other than your work title or your career accomplishments. That awareness of self may also include your strengths, values, biases, goals, and self-expectations, as well as how you influence and interact with others. Has working from home changed how you view your different role? Does this impact how you will see yourself once you return to the office?
7. Confidence: Simply put,confidence is a belief that you can complete a task or solve a problem. But we all build confidence in distinct ways. You may correlate it with experience and expertise or an enduring faith in your potential. Have you noticed an increase or decrease in your confidence, or in those you work with, during this work-from-home period? How might this affect you when you return back to working collaboratively in an office?
8. Emotions: Strong and empathetic leaders are skilled at managing emotions to achieve desired outcomes, something we call emotional intelligence. This ability is needed in complex situations so that individuals can respond thoughtfully rather than just reacting. Working from home is definitely a complex scenario as your home life almost certainly mixes in and not always seamlessly. What are the primary emotions that you are feeling? Are certain emotions more prevalent in your team? And how are you managing them?
9. Secure Base: A secure base is a trusted place, object, person, or community that allows for vulnerability and can be called on in times of need. For many of us, how we access our secure base as it applies to the workplace has changed. When you return to the workspace, popping into a colleague’s office for a chat or going for a coffee offsite may not be available in the same way. Do you have a secure base? How has it changed? How are you showing up as a secure base for those who trust you?
The changes we are all experiencing both personally and professionally require agility in how we operate. Since each of these nine practices is influenced by the pandemic, sharpening your awareness of how your work practices is a key component in that ability to be flexible.
As your practices change again over the next few months, that flexibility will allow you to achieve your goals in a positive and productive way.
Melinda Harrison is an Olympian (1984), a certified executive coach, and the author of Personal Next: What We Can Learn from Elite Athletes Navigating Career Transition. To learn more, go to http://melindaharrison.com