Tips from our Global Coach team on how to find a remote working style that suits

In the UK, mass working from home has only just started.  Other countries however, have been experiencing this for a greater period of time. We thought this was a great opportunity to reach out to our other global coaches, who have been dealing with COVID-19 slightly longer and coaching throughout this time. They’ve shared with me some of their top tips and personal stories about navigating this transition to remote working.

1. Yes, this is a weird time – learning how to work remotely

Tips from our ASEAN team on how to find a remote working style that suits

Firstly, it’s ok to feel that this time period will be a challenge. This is new to all of us and it may take a bit of time to adjust to the new working day – whether that’s because emails have trebled in place of in-person chats, your children are at home or this is your first experience of working from home in your current role. Remote working means different things to different people. One of our coaches shared: “A group of management trainees of a reputable banks went hiking together and posted on social media, while they were supposed to be working from home. It went viral on social media and people started using the new term ‘Work from Hill’.” To make the best of working from home, consider these things:

  • Stay connected, but in the way that suits you. Try different ways of working with your team and manager to see what works best. Just ensure that you remain visible and can agilely respond when necessary.
  • If you feel your manager is stifling you, have a chat about it. This might be a tense time anyway, so feeling excessively micro-managed will not help. Setting up a proactive plan with your manager and checking in a couple of times a day ensures that you are addressing their concerns but giving yourself a bit of breathing space.
  • If you are a manager, trust your employees and give them flexibility to handle thing in different ways while achieving results and in managing their own schedule. Create a safe space for employees to voice their needs.
  • Listen and empathise rather than jumping to negative conclusions about people’s reactions or interactions. Some people might be spikier on email than in person or have less time to chat on calls. Try and be flexible where you feel you can.
  • Engage with those company events like that companywide webinar that you never had time for before. The stronger your organisation’s online capabilities, the easier you will find it is to get into the groove of working from home in the longer term and still feel connected to the wider company.

2. Let’s talk about mental health

At this time, it is crucially important to be looking after not just our physical health, but our mental health too. Working on your mental health needs to move from being viewed as a ‘nice to have’ to a day-to-day consideration.

  • If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, focus and refocus. This situation can bring up many different emotions, and that’s ok. Taking a couple of minutes to do a breathing exercise, or a 5-minute meditation can help to reduce some of the noise.
  • Ensure you maintain a group of people, however small, that are supporting each other. Even if you can’t physically see one another, staying connected is very important. For example, my friends and I are starting a virtual book and film club to keep us entertained.
  • Channel your energy into projects, both creative and practical! Take on some of the fixing/mending tasks that have been “too difficult” for some time. Learn a new skill. By completing tasks and getting things done, you feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
  • Ensure you are not constantly engaging with the news. Seeing every statistic and following different news sources can add to anxiety. It is important to focus on information with evidence for protection and prevention.
  • Try to prevent cabin fever from setting in. Unless in quarantine or full self-isolation, spending some time outside and going for walks will help to clear your mind and take a bit of time.

3. Still ‘go to work’….

One of the easiest pitfalls with working from home is not being in the correct headspace to get as much done. Even though the office can be filled with its own distractions, at home these distractions have the potential to be amplified ten-fold.

  • Find your ‘office’ space.  For some this might be easier if they already have a home office space. For others, it’s about finding somewhere that can be set up for the majority of the day, with the opportunity to close the area off and concentrate. One of the coaches even suggested being able to lock the door to the room you’re in when you have video conference or work calls.
  • If you’re used to a work ‘uniform’, make sure that you’re not trying to do your work in your pyjamas. I guarantee to you the novelty will wear off.  Getting dressed for the day adds to having a sense of purpose and also helps to create a distinction between ‘time off’ and ‘time on’.

4. …But ensure that work/life balance remains a priority

When working at home, balance becomes more complicated. The tips above might help tackle not being able to focus at home.  However, there is also the danger that we actually end up working longer hours, because we literally have the ability to be at work 24/7.

  • Do not check your emails at all hours of the day. If you are still using your laptop outside of hours, make sure to close Outlook. If you have emails on your phone, put them on the app, rather than your rolling emails.
  • Still try to do the things you enjoy, but if necessary, adapt them. It is very tempting, to say ‘oh now I’m not going out for dinner with friends, I guess I can work a bit longer’. This could lead to burn-out.
  • Maximise the opportunities to spend time with your family and engage in things together. Life can usually be so busy, and this time provides the opportunity to slow down a bit. If you’re feeling at a loss as to how to keep your children busy and engaged, take the opportunity to do overlapping value-added activities. For example, exercising or cooking together with your children. Make it an opportunity to teach them life skills.

5. Get better at goal setting

It can be very easy to forget or forgo professional development, as other things seem to take priority at this time. However, now more than ever, is the opportunity to reassess goals, priorities and working styles. If you are having coaching sessions with ECC, these are all things that you can think about in and around your session.

  • Set goals to achieve per week or even per day. Some people may find checklist helpful, while some may need a small work community to boost accountability. Find your own way to keep you discipline and stay focused.
  • Think about how you are managing and interacting with your team. How are you building your communication skills? Are you getting feedback from other members on your team and working on development? Ask yourselves some questions about your leadership style and how you can hone your skills.
  • Work on improving your digital literacy. This time period might be a pre-cursor to an even more digitally driven workplace. Equipping yourself with skills in this area will only make any further digital shifts an easier transition.
  • Think about if there are ways to align your personal and professional goals, or whether there are skills or abilities that you have in one area that you are underutilising in other parts of your life.

At this time, remaining focused, directed and pragmatic is important. It is better to be calm and grounded than to be continuously positive. Whilst remote working might initially feel uncomfortable or difficult, our global coaches have figured it out- and so will we.

Thank you to our Executive Coaches Vivien Hau, Rainbow Chow, Clare Roberts and Susan Hall  in Hong Kong and Singapore for their contributions.

Published by: Leah Fine, Research & Development at the Executive Coaching Consultancy. Leah can be reached at leah@executive-coaching.co.uk 

Inclusivity, Dealing in Uncertainty, Staying Connected: Coaching Comment March 2020 

 

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