Many of us have no choice about working from home. The new reality of virtual connection fell upon us suddenly. Leaders need to help employees deal with this sudden work-life blend. The authors draw upon neuroscience, change management, emotional intelligence, and examples from others to provide you with some conscious ways to lead.
We didn’t have even 24 hours to get ready. When we left the office on Monday afternoon, most of us would not be able to go back until April 7. At the soonest. Working at home is one thing. Having virtual meetings at home is another. Now those who used to have a place to work, at work, now have to let everyone enter what has been our private space, at home.
Leaders – all of you who influence the work of others – had no ramp up for this change. No time for announcements to explain the purpose. No time for inspirational slogans or a name for this initiative. No time to prepare the “readiness to change” efforts. Leaders and employees were plunked into this at the same time.
Personal space has become our professional space. There are as many individual reactions to this as there are individuals. As with any, sudden imposed change, negative feelings emerge. Leaders, in case you haven’t heard them already, here are some reactions:
- Embarrassment – my place is a mess. The only room with a door is the bathroom. I can’t get enough bandwidth unless I sit on the washing machine.
- Comparing brain -- my place isn’t as neat/large/attractive as others.’ My boss has a big private space at home; she has no idea of what it’s like to share an apartment with 3 roommates.
- Invasion of privacy – it’s not your business to know that I have kids/out-of-work partner/an impaired spouse/ noisy toddlers and pets. Where’s my headset? It doesn’t matter because everyone around me can hear what I say to you.
- Lack of control – I’m a gypsy in my own home without a dedicated place to work. I have to keep moving around. Even if the door is closed, it doesn’t mean that someone won’t knock or barge in.
- Loss of boundaries – now I have teammates and my boss in my personal space. Getting the job done requires almost 24/7. I may not have shaved/ showered/ dressed before our call. Whatever “professional” image I had is gone.
So what can leaders do to help build the resilience that we all need to handle the feelings about moving our work into our formerly private space? And how can we do this so that we build better relationships, get the work done, and emerge as a better team on the other side of this crisis?
Stay tuned for the next installment of this blog.
The authors -- Donnie Hill and Kris Schaeffer – have never worked together before. Heck, they’ve never even met in person. They hope to be models of how to thrive while working virtually.
Donnie recently resigned from his full-time tech job as a Marketing & Sales Enablement Specialist to build his own coaching and consulting company, Life Maximizer, LLC. Now he’s taking his 15 years of experience to advise senior executives and leaders on increasing resilience and rebuilding so they can grow post-COVID. Donnie is really starting to love his new 15-second commute and the freedom to bounce between his garden, his home office and his kitchen table.
Kris has always worked from her office where she is surrounded by binders full of 35 years of work. And books. Her only personal “homeschooling” has been the current year when she studied for the certification as a conscious consultant. Now she is a work gypsy who finally settled on the kitchen table where she’s able to get bandwidth. Kris Schaeffer & Associates helps companies engage their employees and astound their customers by building conscious cultures.