Updated: Jul 24
With COVID-19, we are living in very challenging and uncertain times. For many of us, in this increasingly VUCA world, we have had to make changes in both our personal and professional lives. This includes working from home for an extended period of time. Thankfully, there is a lot of information as well as tips and trick that you can find on how to create the space and system to work from home. Apart from creating the physical and technological space to simulate what you would do if you were working in an office, it is also important to be mindful in creating the "heart space" to work from home.
These are some key learnings I hope you find useful. The details of what works for you may differ depending on your personality, work ethics, past experiences, work context, company or team culture etc.
Acknowledge that working from home is NOT the same as working in the same office. Surface and acknowledge the challenges and difficulties of working from home. This could be in terms of the environment, social interaction, easy access to people, technology, support etc.
Flowing from that, acknowledge that there are inherent challenges and difficulties in working from home. Not all of these can be completely solved or even mitigated through the use of current technology or tips and tricks. For example, the ease of walking over and getting help or support can be mitigated through the use of technology but it may not be as easy and take more effort.
Establish or re-connect with your motivation for doing what you are doing. Circumstances may dictate the need to work from home but what motivates you should flow from your sense of purpose or what you seek to achieve.
Explore your current mindset and the desired mindset that will enable you to be happy with working from home. Perhaps it is about being open and curious so that you can experiment with what may or may not work for you on this journey without self-judgement. It could be about accepting that this will be a slightly longer journey for you and is not something you can turn on and off so you should be gentle with yourself when you falter or "miss the mark".
Therefore, above all, practice self-care and self-compassion. There are and will be challenges and difficulties that for you are not as easy to resolve or accept as it may seem for others. That is alright, be gentle with yourself and if you need that pause, allow yourself to pause. It is a journey, not a race. Give yourself the space to fail!
These were lessons I discovered when I had the privilege of managing virtual teams across 5 timezones and teams with diverse cultural backgrounds. The first step was to be self-aware and like building muscles, it takes time and effort. It is important to start with yourself first and also to recognize that depending on your work context, this may apply and extend to your team members as well as anyone you may need to interact and collaborate with.