July 3, 2020

WFH – Work Smarter, Not Harder!

Without a doubt, you have got to love how resourceful this turtle is!  He is saving time and energy, a very clever chap!  Em, I do wonder how he will enjoy rewarding himself with his free time.  Which brings me to us humans, and how are we ‘resourcing’ our ‘human resources’?!  Now, there is a leading question for you!  With good reason, I’m raising it.

The Facts Uncovered

Recently I stumbled across research from LinkedIn, who complied a survey on people working from home (WFH).  The major reveal and headline reported that remote workers are clocking up to 38 extra hours a month.  It is equivalent to an additional working week within the month.  Predominately, the main reason for this, is employees are anxious to prove that they deserve to keep their jobs.  43% of respondents said they felt under pressure to answer e-mails and calls quicker than usual.  Feeling the constant need to show up online while they are remote working plays havoc with workflow and productivity effectiveness.  It is a significant challenge for many employees.  The survey revealed 36% of remote workers said the Covid-19 lockdown had affected their ability to focus.  A further 27% admitted they found themselves being easily distracted by their home environment, which is not surprising in the least.

A Reality Check

Naturally, stress and anxiety are on the increase.  56% of respondents said they felt more anxious or stressed about work than before the Covid-19 lockdown was introduced.  The biggest challenge and concern amongst employees is that their employer may no longer operate or make them redundant.  41% of respondents expressed worry about this.  Pre Covid-19, there was a trend and wave of organisational change, and restructuring in full swing.  Many companies were already in the process of downsizing, outsourcing, and making employees redundant.  Outside of this, the real impact of Covid-19, and what ‘changes lie ahead’ and how unemployment will be further affected remains to be seen.  These are incredibly uncertain times for people.  My heart goes out to anyone caught up in this ‘human chain’ of uncertainty and fear that is incredibly prevalent and very real.  Let’s not forget the human social aspect of people feeling lonely and missing the interaction, connection and buzz from their work environments.  21 % of respondents admitted to feeling lonely.  I will revisit this one with you further down, on how to actively improvise and re-create those ‘water cooler’ moments that you are missing from your work environments.

The Adaption Process

I don’t have a magic wand to make the stark realities that you have just been digesting disappear!  I wish!  Needless to say, there is a major adaption period that we are all transiting through, while we are in the midst of a phased Covid-19 recovery period.  The same ‘phased recovery’ period, where restrictions are gradually being lifted, tweaked and adjusted, can just as easily be reversed back to full lockdown, should the need arise.  That has been made very clear to us by the government.  Where everyone is at with the adaption process, will be experienced entirely differently for people.  If the above resonates with your circumstances, then please take some solace, and comfort in the fact there is so much you can do, to regain both autonomy and peace of mind.

Taking Back Control

We can’t let our energy, focus and attention get sucked on what we can’t control.  Easier said than done, trust me, I know!  However, when we veer our focus and attention to what we can control, the ‘controllables’, that sense of control and autonomy is the starting point of either getting back on track or ensuring you stay on track if you haven’t veered too far off.  Either way, emphasis on ‘sustainability’ as we continue to navigate and transition in unchartered times is paramount.  To enable the ‘future sustainable version’ of you, you need to invest in yourself now.  It is crucial for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and well-being.  These are ‘internal factors’, driving your ‘external’ productivity, and performance output.  If you are concerned about experiencing productivity challenges, or you simply want to elevate your current performance levels, then I encourage you to read on.  It is time to put an ‘enabling strategy’ in place to rise to what the new evolving ‘norm’ is.  It is the difference between ‘just surviving,’ with anything from ‘mediocre to good’ performance skills, to ‘thriving’, and operating from a place of ‘great’ and ‘peak performance’ skills. 

Take a Sneak Peek and a Look on the Inside

In terms of ‘taking back control’, I mentioned ‘internal factors’ above, and this is what I’m going to be asking you to zone in on.  Allow yourself some ‘spaciousness’ and ‘presence’ to embody that concept.  What do I mean by that? I’m inviting you to take some time out, to ‘zone out’ from ‘external factors’, even if just briefly.  All too often, people are focusing on ‘blaming’ external factors.  Be it Covid-19, your employment circumstances, a demanding boss, a narky colleague, environmental challenges working from home, or whatever it may be for you.  

I’m going to ask you to ‘dial down the noise’ on whatever external challenges show up for you.  If you are going to take some ‘honest reflection’ time on how you are performing, enabling you to take back control or stay in the driver seat, you need to pull in the reins and ‘zone in’ on you.  Zone in on where you are currently at with your ‘internal performance drivers’.  I’m genuinely advocating people to ‘work smarter, not harder’, and that is a job that works best from the ‘inside out’, definitely not in reserve, which is how people are automatically wired.  When you formulate your thinking process from the ‘inside out’, you can then merge the internal and external factors to synchronise, and harmonise in a way that is acting in your best interests.  Taking a ‘sneak peek’ on the inside involves raising your conscious self-awareness levels.  In turn, this enables the opportunity to allow ‘new thinking’.  It opens opportunities to explore how you can ‘bridge gaps’ from where you are ‘now’ to where you want to get to, in terms of making WFH, work for you in the best possible way! 

System Management and Sustainability

On taking that ‘sneak peek’ on the inside, to check-in with where you are currently at; it will allow you to review how you can potentially reframe your attitude, and approach in some instances.  Furthermore, it will give you the ‘inside track’ on how you can better manage, and streamline your ‘human biological resources’ in a way that complements you WFH and your workflow ‘output’.  The same ‘output’ is vastly dependent on the quality and consistency of your ‘input’.  This is about channelling your ‘human biological resources’ to achieve overall ‘system management’ and ‘sustainability’ at optimal levels.  It is aimed at supporting your ‘neuro wellness’ for overall enhanced functionality and performance, bridging to your continued success.  With this in mind, I would like to share some top tips, insights, and valuable tools and techniques to support you to ‘power-up’ and ‘tool up’.  Remember it is an ‘inside job’ to deal with the outside world!

WFH – Enabling Strategies – Top Tips, Tools, Resources and Insight

1. Presenteeism Does Not Equal Productivity – Let us get clarity first on what presenteeism is, and how it shows up.  The presenteeism definition is the practice of coming to work (or remoting) despite illness, injury, stress, anxiety etc.  It includes; pumping your efforts, energy and resources into proving to your boss, that you still have a pulse, and that you are ‘online’ and working.  Diving on every call, and jumping on every e-mail, feeling like you are on ‘high alert’, have you operating from your ‘stress network platform’.   It is counter-productive to you, and the quality of the work you are producing.  It is not sustainable, and you risk burning yourself out.  Learn to take your foot off the pedal with this.  Of course, stay engaged, that is incredibility important.  However, learn to strike a balance with it.  Tools and tips are coming up to help you with that.  To be fair, if you are getting your work done, and submitted it, keeping all the wheels in motion, then this is evidence and facts in it-self.  Bank it, and keep track of your wins, and achievements along the way.  It will provide significant ‘buy-in’ at your next performance review, or online departmental meeting.  

Please know that presenteeism is the absence of you ‘being present’ at full optimum capacity for performing.  Instead, your ‘neuro activity’ is being conflicted in terms of your focus and attention on priority tasks.  I strongly advise you, if through the Covid-19 period, or indeed any other circumstances are taking its toll on you, where stress, anxiety and exhaustion have been catching up on you, take some time for growth, rest and repair.  Operating with these symptoms is impacting your thinking, focus, concentration, memory and ability to make informed decisions.  Recharging your batteries first is essential.   That will be stage one in ‘bridging gaps’ to your success. Presenteeism is a major challenge for organisations, and, from what I have described, you get it.  Your mental health is at stake, invest in your wellness first, and then the rest will follow.  

If you are struggling with adapting to change, you may be interested in my e-book, Overcoming Resistance to Change.  It includes a range of beneficial models and tools to start on the road to recovery, to get back on track.  It contains a powerful tool on: Adapting with Sustainability – Habits and Investment Plan Tool.

2. Stop Multi-Tasking – This is a big no-no! According to several research sources and studies, our brains are not designed to do more than one thing at a time.  Our brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.  It impacts efficiency and performance output, where productivity suffers as a result.  I have provided research and evidence to back this up in my e-book: Unlock The Secrets to Boosting Productivity.  

To help you put structure on your workflow with priority task scheduling, enabling productive time and energy management check-out: Nine Top Reasons Why You Need an Action Plan Tool.  For goal setting and priority task scheduling my e-book on: Overcoming Resistance to Change includes: ‘Execute Action Plan’ Tool.  It is a powerful tool that will give you structure and routine and a sense of autonomy and peace of mind.

3. Starve Distractions - Starving distractions is completely easier said than done.  Distractions are a fact of life! There is no getting away from the struggles that manifest unless they are consciously dealt with.  No differently to the decline caused in productivity from multitasking, distractions are another major contributing contender.  Distractions ‘show up’ and present in what can be a complex host and array of multidimensional facets.  They show up both internally and externally.  To fully appreciate the real cost of distractions on your productivity and how to overcome them, refer to  Distraction Awareness.  This is outlined in Unlock The Secrets to Boosting Productivity.  To elevate your focus and concentration levels, and accelerate your strategic performance output, this e-book contains a powerful: ‘Feed Focus – Habit and Behaviour Investment Plan’ Tool.  

4. Build Healthy Boundaries Around Your WFH Hours and Conditions – It is increasingly being reported people are struggling to switch off from work, with work and home life merging into one.  People are becoming addicted to work as a way of coping and getting sucked into a ‘workaholic’ lifestyle.  Build healthy boundaries and practices around your work schedule.  If you don’t do that, you are seriously risking, not just your productivity in terms of the quality of work you are producing, you are also jeopardising, your well-being and mental health.  Make a conscious effort to wean yourself off working excessive hours if this is the case for you.  Remember it is about future-proofing, and sustainability, in it for the long game, not running on ‘empty’ and potentially burning out.  Your self-care and wellness come before people care.  Particularly if you are leading teams and influencing others, then definitely self-management, before people management is a must.

In taking the first steps to regularise your hours, here are some top tips:

  • Put your working hours into your calendar – set the alarm for these hours on your phone or pc.
  • Stay well during the day – set alarms for breaks and lunch, be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water, perhaps take a walk or squeeze in some exercise on your breaks.  Ensure you are getting screen breaks.  Many people are reporting ‘itchy eyes’ from spending extended periods in front of their screen. 
  • Put your working hours on your e-mail signature to deter people from expecting a reply from you after core working hours.  Resist the temptation to be available all hours.  
  • Negotiate upfront flexibility hours you need from your boss if you are accommodating homeschooling or other special circumstances.  Ensure everyone has clarity with what the arrangements are.
  • Where you are working skewed/flexi hours to accommodate different time zones or circumstances, put your ‘out-of-office’ on your e-mail to reflect these hours. Again, this takes the pressure off people expecting you to be available all the time, especially as you are accommodating your organisation, available to work outside core hours.  Use your ‘out-of-office’ time to get human, with nutrient, rest and exercise or simply to relax and connect with family and friends, or downtime.
  • Engage in open and honest communication with your boss.  Let him know you are investing in priority tasking on scheduled periods.  Switch off your e-mail and don’t feel under a constant obligation to prove you are working, when in fact you are.  Create an intentional space that allows you to focus on your priority tasks, uninterrupted where possible.

5. Social Connectedness and Social Responsibility – This plays a part in developing your emotional intelligence skills.  Furthermore, from a human perspective, staying connected with your circle of colleagues and friendships, particularly if you are feeling lonely or isolated is hugely important.  For those of you missing the coffee dock breaks, and water cooler interactions, then here are a few concepts.  A great idea, if you are not already doing it, is to instigate coffee break zoom calls at a set time for colleagues, having the option to join in.  Make sure to spread positive vibes, and it is a great chance to network and catch up on the latest within the organisation.  Often these interludes can be more informative that some business meetings.  If you haven’t heard from a colleague in a while, that otherwise would have been the ‘life and soul’ in the office, be sure to check-in on them.  It will be appreciated, and kindness never goes astray. 

6. Sports and Social Events – perhaps you are missing these.  Many companies are engaging in quiz nights, charades, bingo etc. via zoom.  Keeping the ‘fun’ aspect of company culture alive and kicking.  Don’t forget to offer prizes, IOU a cocktail, book token, or takeout vouchers!  There are many fun ways to get creative and keep the fun and positive spirits up. Enjoy!

The Future – WFH -The Road Ahead

Undoubtedly, WFH provides many fantastic benefits, and these will be experienced differently for everyone.  While we don’t have all the answers to what the future holds, and what lies in the road ahead, WFH is a major part of how businesses are going to stay viable in transitioning, and recovery phased periods.  From the survey carried out, 51% of respondents want more flexible hours and the option of working from home when they emerge into a new world.  One-third would like to see greater use of video conferencing instead of meetings in person.  New trends have emerged, and new and better ways of doing things, are some of the positive aspects to come from Covid-19.

The onus, and responsibility is on each individual to make WFH, work in the best possible way.  Striking a balance with it, getting routines and healthy habits in place, and learning how to separate home-life, from work-life is indeed a balancing act.  Consistent small steps each day, with the help of the tools I have mentioned, will significantly enable and support you in achieving that.  The ultimate goal should be to stay mentally and emotionally well while adapting to world changes around us.  Keeping positive ‘forward momentum’ involves you investing in your own ‘system management’, future-proofing for ‘performance success’ and ‘sustainability’.  Remember work smarter, not harder, just like the turtle dude on his skateboard!

Book A Free Consultation
closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram