What does work from home look like for you? A pile of laundry in view, dog on your lap, business up top, and pajama party down below, am I right?! With more people than ever before calling the place where they rest their head at night “the office,” job happiness is at risk.
From losing your sense of community to feeling overexposed to not knowing when to call it a day, dive into some of the challenges that come with this new way of life and learn how you can rock this experience.
1. Building a Sense of Community from home
You probably had a good sense of community when you worked onsite with your co-workers, and if you didn’t, you at least had the ability to blow off some steam with your buddies at happy hour. Shaken not stirred, please! With those options either gone or minimized, how are you maintaining a sense of community?
We know that having a strong support system in place is vital to the process of goal attainment, effective leadership, and overall health and happiness. Physical distance from your team amplifies the challenges you face. Let’s learn how you can make the best of this situation.
At its core, improving work culture requires you to revisit a shared purpose and build a connection with others. Sure, this was easier when there was cake in the breakroom, photos of loved ones propped on desks, and jokes by the watercooler. On the surface, an environment of frozen screens, technical difficulties, and other awkward virtual moments doesn’t seem like one that can foster community, but it can!
While working from home, employees can feel disconnected from their mates, the impact they are having, and any progress that’s being made. To counter this:
- Implement (or speak to your manager about implementing) daily or weekly team check-ins. Begin with each member sharing one gratitude and one achievement.
- Share an assessment of your mood and energy levels on a scale of 1-10. Try this on a Monday morning and set a tone of lightheartedness and support for the day.
- Suggest bi-weekly or monthly employee recognition. This practice will serve as a motivator and unifier for the entire team.
- What if there is tension between you and a co-worker? Practice conscious communication to promote a sense of community. You can do this by taking a moment to ensure that the email you’re about to send is free from passive aggression or blame.
- Break out of the Breakout Room! If it’s safe to do so, meet up with your workmate for a walk or a cup of coffee. If this isn’t possible, commit to future plans. The anticipation will do your spirit good! Create a group chat where you share plans, ideas, and jokes. Ridiculous memes and butt dials are encouraged!
Uh…on second thought, maybe avoid the butt dials because of, well, you know, boundaries.
2. Set up those Boundaries
You’re sitting around the boardroom table, sharing glances with your team. Everyone is there. Directors have even flown in from overseas. That’s when you think to yourself, “I’d just LOVE to have everyone over to my house!” Ha! Not a chance, right? Well, essentially that’s what you’ve been experiencing during this stay-at-home order.
Everyone and their pet goldfish have the inside scoop on your home décor, your screechy (but super cute) kids, and that crack in the wall you’ve been meaning to spackle. Being on blast like that can be uncomfortable and can even trigger major anxiety.
We coached Corinne, a public sector employee, on how to find joy in her work-from-home experience. “I was used to just slipping into work, doing a good job, and leaving. I liked being low-key. Then, all of a sudden, my face is on a screen and I’m even more aware of how I look.”
Managers, you can help your team feel more comfortable by practicing sensitivity. This means holding back from calling people out for not having their microphones and cameras on at times when it’s not necessary. It means having open conversations about equity in the workplace and not expecting the person from the marginalized community to do the speaking unless they’re specially qualified to do so.
Corinne continues to receive coaching to increase her confidence and work through her feelings of discomfort in the workplace, but, for now, she’s found a lot of comfort in taking our simple advice: Turn the camera off. No blame, no shame, no guilt! That goes for you too! As you work to fix the underlying reasons for your anxiety, step out of the spotlight and take the edge off.
3. Know When To Unplug!
There’s nothing new about taking work home with you, but hours of operations have never been so blurred as they are now. Logging in after-hours, eating dinner from your desk, and saying things like, “I’ll just check in real quick before bed,” are increasingly common.
When it comes to taking on more work, employees have adopted the “might as well” way of thinking. One reason for this is because they value being productive. The idea behind this backfire approach is that productivity is measured by work-related metrics. But productivity is just the measure of efficiency of completing a task. What if you unplugged at a reasonable time and reframed productivity to reflect practices of wellness. Say you have 30 minutes before you have to make dinner, can you squeeze in a stretch, a chat with a loved one, a jog, or a nap? Challenge time! See how long you can rest before someone starts poking you.
Set a definitive work schedule and try your best to stick to it. Terri Cole, psychotherapist, and author of Boundary Boss, has included communicating boundaries and setting limits in her Boundary Boss Bill of Rights. Make an effort to only work during office hours and take care of personal stuff outside of that designated time.
What about lunchtime? Being bored out of your slippers can add to your desire to stay put and do more work. Get outside, hang with a friend (even virtually), pick up that hobby or scroll funny videos online.
In your efforts to improve your work culture and maximize your work from home experience, lead by example. Build your community, promote a strong sense of boundaries, and skip the guilt when taking back your personal space and time.
If you liked what you learned in this blog, we think you’ll really like our Conscious Leadership Experience. If you’d like to learn more about how to Be Well and Lead Well, it will be our pleasure to meet you and share ideas on a FREE check-in call!