We humans experience change continuously throughout our lives, although days may seem monotonous at times, we are upset when our routine is affected or we don't get what we expect. Change happens on larger scales too whether it's growing up, raising our own children, or buying your first home.
Instructor, Robert Annis, continues his pandemic blog series with this blog discussing the post-pandemic shift in working!
With this in mind, it is helpful to recognize your level of change now that we are moving towards a post-pandemic world. In the working world, this could be framed as three questions;
- Are you going to have to change?
- Will your work environment change?
- Will your employing organisation have to change?
These questions are worth considering one by one, as I said earlier, we do not have history - personal or shared - to base our decisions on. So extra care and thought is needed. And no, I don't mean that the reaction should be to run out and buy toilet paper. Please.
Are you going to have to change?
How you live your life is the definition of personal expression and freedom and we all hope that is impacted as little as possible. Nonetheless, we should analyze how we live and why, but in this piece, I'd like to focus on how we work and why.
As I write this, where possible, working from home is government sanctioned so we will focus here and I may even use the now infamous Working From Home (WFH) acronym. Or maybe not.
For those who haven't done it before or are doing it for the first time, I don't believe it should be treated as;
- free time off that the employer needs to seek out and punish, but neither do I feel that it means;
- you work all day long including your old commuting time. There has to be a balance between these extremes, although I am seeing a lot in each category
Quite simply employers should reward good quality work, not high quantity work since a high quantity focus usually means a low-quality result. Honesty, if you don't trust your people and feel the need to monitor them it says more about you as an employer and the environment you're providing.
A structured day with a mix of work, as well as well-being practices, helps. Whether it's using an app like Calm to relax or a yoga app there are many options. But just as importantly, not working all the time and recognising when to take a break, really matters. The human brain works best when given the focus on one thing and then switches to another. It craves variety - doing one thing all day long is not ideal. So plan out your work days with a mix of other activities; walking the dog, reading a book, a cycle ride, a video call with friends or family. All of these things should mix well into a working day and give your brain the variety it needs to be successful.
Employers will have to move away from feeling the need to watch their employees for 8+ hours a day. In this new world, we find ourselves in, trust and respect are absolutely key. Remote working will not be successful without it. It relies on employers empowering and trusting their people and the same time workers recognising that when they work, they need to work well but that they are trusted to take breaks as well. The worker is responsible. Your working day won't be punctuated by the normal office interruptions of people stopping by your desk or being pulled into ad hoc meetings. So you need to build a structured time to give you those breaks.
Perhaps even build in 'gossip time'; a chance to chat with a colleague about inane things is fun and valuable. It helps create a sense of belonging and trust. Two things that companies will be recognizing as more important in a virtual future.
A recent client had an employee that was working 12-14 hours days remotely, when he mentioned this the manager did not say it was wrong. This has resulted in an employee that feels disconnected, not respected, and that their massive effort was unappreciated and pointless. The employer now faces an employee who risks a reduction in loyalty - no organization does well when its workforce doesn't feel loyal. Quite simply the manager was lacking in empathy and did not understand the message the worker was trying to convey.
Employers and employees are going to have to change. We need to have working relationships that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, and communication.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in this series!