Working From Home Number 2: Don't Be Scared

Further to my guide to working from home and the 3 lessons therein, let's take #2, "Don't be scared" in a bit more detail and provide 3 tips that have helped me through working at home.
So, the personal one, the one that no-one gets to see as it's deep inside each and everyone of us.

There's much that will try and scare us whilst working from home, the lack of feedback, the increase in the need for our own decision making, not being able to concentrate, distractions from every corner of the house meaning we don't think we're delivering, and of course the rise of impostor syndrome

Oh and I'm sure the above list is completely different to yours, what makes some people scared doesn't even enter the worldview of others, and vice versa. Perhaps you may feel that you won't be able to do the job to the quality you believe is required, you might have a freak out at the tech needs, you may see this as a creeping of the workplace into your personal time and just don't want that.

So many perceived fears, so little time!

Don't do it alone

What I know is that you're not alone, even when you're on your own.

Acknowledge that this is new, scary, and weird for everyone, from your colleagues, your boss, the bosses boss, and everyone else you work with. Even if they don't show it they are, because hey, are you showing it?

I find this online life easy through practice and natural affinity, you may not, and that's fine. Reach out to those you trust at work and ask those questions you believe are silly, embarrassing, or even just too simplistic. You are NOT alone and your fears are valid, take a deep breath and reach out - send a text, write that email, pick up the phone, and ask, "Um, I don't know what to do?".

Want to ask me something, anything then please get in touch - my email, phone, and online ways are open and I'm ready to chat about anything you want, this article, let off steam, or just to have a yarn, that's cool.

Not being alone with your fears is a key to managing them and, over time, maybe having them fade away to a past that you can look back on with a wry smile.

Nobody likes change

My second tip is to know that change is always scary and can bring up anxiety even when we're not working through these most bizarre of times. We all know this, we've all experienced this when the new HR programme is rolled out, the new office layout is finally delivered, the upgrade to Windows is plonked onto our machines. Even when the change is good, EVEN when we are part of the change and delivering it we, at a very deep human level, DO NOT LIKE IT!

This is my bread and butter, "Change is", I say to everyone, "where I live - in the bits between stable A and Stable B" Which is not to say I love being there 100% of the time, but I do know how to manage myself and others when amongst it.

So, 3 sub-tips for you when living in the change (and let's be honest the world is now one of change at all times, it is who we are ... or maybe who we were and once we all come out of this we may want to revisit that, thoughts for another article. The 3 tips are:
  1. Understand the big picture
  2. Focus on the truly important (to you) parts
  3. Re-use as many of the the skills and knowledge you have from the "old world"

Once you can see the big picture, the WHY of the change and how it's affecting not just you (never alone, remember) then our brains can start to contextualise the differences. With the big picture we can see how the small changes needed fit in, how it's not just "change for change's sake", that it's not just having to change. If you watch Jacinda Ardern in her daily briefings you will hear her constantly referring all the detailed changes (don't go out, stay 2m away from other bubbles, these shops are shut but these aren't etc etc) back to the bigger WHY. We are doing all these things because it saves lives. For you at home as you work through the changes ensure you have the WHY (maybe not all the way up to COVID-19), why the team structure may have changed, why certain projects are now on hold, why you can't use a certain computer system at the moment - get the WHY, and if you can't then ask someone and keep asking as knowing will ground you.

Work is a series of things to do, some are tedious (doing my accounting sucks, but I am learning that it's a series of things to do). We do a LOT of things during our work day, but when changes happens we often lose our ability to do them all and we freak out. Focus down onto the core things you need to do, nail how to do those in the new way of working and let the rest go. So you didn't get that weekly report out, that regular meeting didn't happen, those system updates can't happen, in today's world these may not important so let them go. If you can concentrate on the truly important (provides most value to your 'clients') then life will become clearer, less cluttered and you can give yourself brain space to just deal with "the change".

And finally in this sub-tips section, know that you are NOT starting from scratch. A new work venue (home for most of us) does not mean we are now akin to a new employee, we are not waking up each morning wondering how on earth everything works. You know a LOT of stuff, from the people you work with, the things that need to be done, and underlying processes that happen. You also know a lot about the tools you use, the ways you and your organisation use them. Lean on this knowledge, recognise that different work patterns are not erasers on a life of knowledge and skills, you're merely going to apply them differently.

Kindness is key

Right, back to the final of the big tips - be kind to yourself.

When we're inside the change world (it's a place and time and is never a mere moment) we will make mistakes, we always get lost, and I can almost guarantee you will think it's never going to get better.

It's all normal, everyone (from your colleagues, the boss, and the bosses boss) will be thinking and feeling this.

Be kind to yourself first, accept that mistakes will happen, tech will fail, kids will come swinging in whilst you're on a BBC interview. It's all OK, and even if it seems like the world is ending it's not and you will both recover and be fine after.

Being kind to yourself is key, once you're doing that you can then extend it out to being kind to others - not the whole world, just those that matter to you your work colleagues when they forget they had the video call with you, the boss when she sends a typo fulled email to you, your family as they decide to start the vacuum cleaner as you're trying to write that document. Be kind to them, they don't come from a position of hatred, it is not their intent to annoy you.


So, there we have it - scary times for us all. When I work with leaders and organisations through change I have a series of frameworks that I use, but they all are scaffold by these three tips, I hope you've found them useful:

  1. Don't do it alone
  2. Nobody likes change
  3. Be kind to yourself


MIKE BONUS TIP: As soon as you feel your nerves and the sense that you're getting scared about something in particular (setting up that first conference call with the boss), say I’m excited or Get excited to yourself. Out loud. Say it a few times. I’m excited. Get excited! That’s it, you will now have moved the feeling to excitement. [more: You're Not Anxious, You're Excited]

Comments

  1. Great insight from Deborah Robb, "Seen a lot of ppl relax because what they previously thought was up to them is now out of their control. I think ppl love change- just keep getting told they don’t."


    I think however that big 'foisted upon' changes, as we're experiencing now with #StayHomeNZ are ones people aren't comfortable with.


    Small incremental changes as we experience every day (and fast and faster, thanks tech) are part of life and Deb's POV definitely holds true there.

    ReplyDelete

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