Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

This one is for anyone who is worried during this pandemic.

Naturally, we should be wary of anyone who says, 'All you have to do is....' Even so, researchers who've spent many years observing people who handle crises well have some ideas you might find useful.

One research team has developed a three-point strategy for developing resilience and their ' 3Cs of Hardiness' have been well tested.

Control - Making a plan

Commitment (in two parts)

  • Staying committed to the plan (even if we have to modify the plan as we go along)
  • Staying committed to our relationships with the people who support us 

Challenge - Seeing worries and adversity as an opportunity to develop our resilience

You might be thinking, 'I do that already!' Great, but could you make more of each of those ideas?  Making the strategy work through setbacks and recurring bouts of worry takes determination and courage.

Other researchers have come up with other useful observations we should add to the mix.

  • Coping well with a medium level of stress builds our resilience for the next time we need it.
  • Helping others makes us happier.
  • Optimism and gratitude are contageous.
  • Dreaming big can be good, but planning what we will do  turns a fantasy into a goal.
  • People who plan what they will do when they encounter setbacks to their goals are more resilient
  • Forgiving ourselves when we lapse from our strategies gets us back on track faster 

 

 

It depends. 

If your role is suitable and your organisation supports you with good leadership and you do it well, WFH could be liberating, less expensive than commuting, greener and more productive.

Let's focus on how you can be more productive - and keep your health and sanity.

At Skillset we've always been free to work from home, so we'll add our suggestions to a selection of ideas from around the world.

The basics

  • Set aside enough space and free from distractions.
  • Make it clear to anyone who might interrupt you that you will be working.
  • Plan your hours so that you have a fixed time for work then start and finish punctually. Resist the temptation to compromise family time outside those hours. 
  • Take breaks just as you would in the office. At home, you might take time to empty the dishwasher or hang out the washing. Think of those tasks as part of your paid work because they help you to be more effective.
  • Have regular meals.  
  • Excercise regularly.

 Performance issues

You'll need to develop the skill of being 'noticed, but not often seen'. 

  • Call your team leader to negotiate clear goals, responsibilities and deadlines for your work. 
  • Check how often your team leader needs progress reports - and deliver.
  • Stay in touch with your colleagues and team leader. Write them emails in a friendly, conversational tone, even if you are feeling grumpy or frustrated. (Maintain 'The Professional You')
  • Accept that managers and team leaders worry when they can't see their people working or the results of that work. They may be in touch more often than you need. 
  • Set daily goals.
  • Dress for work. Sure, you could do it in your pajamas, but office clothes help most people think and perform in a more professional way. (I've seen a BBC newsreader turn up in a suit and bow tie to read the news - on the radio.)
  • If you are meeting on say, Zoom, Skype or Teams, check that there's nothing distracting in the background. That includes distracting books, pot plants that appear to be growing out of your head or family members in the background. (You may have missed the naked partner passing by on Facebook and the toddler appearing on BBC television asking the journalist working from home, 'Mummy can I have two biscuits?')

Staying connected

Being connected isn't just a nice thing to do.

Researchers have shown that our need to connect with other people is one of the three universal motivators - vital regardless of culture. Others have shown that loneliness is about as hazardous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and that quality relationships help us live longer more productive lives.

If we are working from home, we need to put extra effort into our relationships. If working on relationships is not something you do spontaneously, add it to your to do lists.  At least send a friendly email. Better still, Zoom or phone for a catchup. Your calls can be a mixture of work and personal stuff - whatever seems right for your relationship at work.

Face-to-face is best. If the Covid restrictions allow in your country, maybe arrange to meet colleagues for a regular coffee. In our team, anyone who is not training that day will be in the office Wednesdays where we take long coffee breaks, celebrate birthdays, review workshops and exchange ideas. It's been part of our culture for many years.

 

Working from home has challenges, but it's here to stay. Missing our colleagues has emerged as the biggest disadvantage, but WFH has its own acronym because so many people around the world have been forced into it and now more organisations and employees are seeing the benefits. It can be even more productive, saves the cost and time of commuting, helps save the planet and, medium-term, can reduce the cost of office space.