Don‘t wait for the ‘new normal’
We’re heading towards the summer months and a time when many of us would have been looking forward to a break away from home, a different, more relaxing environment and a total change of perspective. Many of us are working out how to manage without or to make do…
There are so many headlines about ‘the new normal’. Perhaps you, like me, are thinking to yourself.. ‘there wasn’t an old one’. There were just a few routines, regular events that marked our daily lives that you never even considered as routines.
Recent months and ‘lockdown’ have meant we have created innovative schedules to meet our different working space and context taking into account the requirements and demands of those people (and pets) who share our living and working spaces.
What you may have thought was just a temporary short term measure, is turning out to be ongoing.
Your working day no longer has the same structure or form. No more grabbing a coffee and having a brief chat with the barista before work. You probably make your own coffee and lunch. Do you even take time for lunch?
The subtle lifestyle changes mean you may also have recognised that not walking around the office or the daily commute have changed the amount of ‘unconscious activity’ you used to do and the calories don’t seem to burn so quickly.
The ‘fun’ videos and gifs have all but disappeared. The WhatsApp support groups are calmer. Planning to shop and estimating supermarket queue times seem an ongoing pre-occupation
Your view from the laptop remains the same.. only the weather changes..
Working from home does not have to have an ‘always on’ approach.
Are the boundaries between work, family, fresh air and relaxation clear or increasingly blurred? Do you feel tied to your laptop more than ever before?
Make an opportunity to take some time and review your work style. You can make improvements that take into account what you have learnt so far about working from home and what you could adjust or enhance.
Being proactive gives everyone a sense of control that many of us are missing.
Formulate this as a team initiative: Set up a ‘what’s going to make this work for us?’ meeting with your team.
Questions that may help facilitate the meeting:
- What’s working well for all of us?
- What do we want to stay the same?
- What has been enjoyable about working together that we’d like to keep?
- What could be better or different?
- What would we like to stop doing?
Be constructive and look for opportunities to set clear boundaries creating a more supportive and less stressful environment.
Many of us are struggling with sharing the workload, caring responsibilities and home ‘stuff’ (shopping, cleaning etc) and not yet having a social life away from our own space.
Use this meeting to find out the challenges your colleagues are facing.
Work on different approaches that may suit individuals yet as a team you can all collaborate constructively.
Ensure everyone has the opportunity to share their experiences, rebalance, reset boundaries and expectations about how you are going to work.
If working from home is now going to be more permanent, what are you going to do to ensure a balance of activity, your social time? Will you have lunch at your desk or take time out – going for a walk, doing an exercise class, ironing?
Discuss ways to support individual demands on time that arise when working from home.
Define your core working hours when you are definitely at your desk and make sure that colleagues know when these are, and that these are in line with company guidelines.
Create a ‘footer’ for your emails that manage expectations:
For example: We support flexible working so you may receive emails at times that fall outside of your own working hours. Please reply when it is convenient for you.
Whatever you agree together, this is a good time to review how you spend your professional time, to improve it and give it more balance; reset your ‘new normal’.
Be proactive, share and agree your choices. Test them for a few weeks, then reflect, review and amend. As a team you can become stronger, more resilient when you create your own ‘new normal’.