This post can be used by individuals to manage the transitions they experience with the change to working at home. If you are a leader/manager I encourage you to take time with your staff either individually or collectively to help them be mindful and to manage the challenging transitions that can accompany the movement from being at the office to working from home. Ensure you also do this for yourself.
As a leader, you don’t have to become a psychologist but you need to know that the single biggest failure of organizations around change is the failure to acknowledge who is losing what because of the change (William Bridges). Don’t fail to address the loses around the changes people are experiencing in their work due to COVID-19.
Debbie misses her morning order of dark coffee before arriving at work. She felt helpless when she told her three young children that the trip to Disney World was cancelled. And now, she was worried about her ability to get her job done knowing schools were closing for 3 weeks.
Ahmet missed the interactions with the people in his building – going to his basement in the morning failed to energize him the way the daily small interactions with the dozens of people in the office did. Working on Zoom and Skype really did not feel like the next best thing to being there.
Nancy assumed her job would be forever but now with all the stuff going on with the virus she wondered if she would even have a job after this was all over. It felt next to impossible to focus on the task at hand. Simple tasks were taking almost twice as long for her to complete.
Shin relied on the IT department to come to his desk to sort out his computer woes but now he was left staring as his machine and cursing because the off/on and plug/unplug didn’t fix his computer woes. He was worried about how the economic downturn would impact his retirement.
One of the challenges with the change from working outside your home to working inside your home is managing or at least being mindful of all the accompanying psychological transitions involved in these changes.
The master of transitions, Bridges (I love his last name for someone writing on change) said it was vital to know that transitions begin with endings, enter a middle or neutral zone, then end with beginnings.
Have you fully attended to what ended when you made the exodus from the office to home?
It is useful to take even 10 minutes to heighten your awareness of the transitions you are experiencing working from home. Use the Circle of Transition below to target in on your psychological experiences of change.
Circle of Transition
Step 1: Consider what roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions ended or were lost when you left the office. Some of us are out of kilter because our routines have changed while some of us miss the incidental daily relationships. Because this change was precipitated due to COVID-19 it may have shaken your assumptions about wellbeing at work. Or maybe, our role was clear at work but now our roles and functions are murky as we move forward. Of course, not all loses are negative and you may appreciate not encountering certain people each day. Perhaps you have also lost several meaningless tasks you were requested to do each day you were in the office.
Step 2: Now, focus for a second time on the circle of transitions. As you work at home what new roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions are being added to what you do. Are you developing new assumptions about how to work? Have you created rituals or routines to keep you engaged while away from the office? Are you developing new relationships with the other people in your neighborhood who also working from home?
Step 3: Don’t be surprised to find your engagement and productivity at home temporarily diminished because of all that ended and you feel like you are in a neutral zone unsure of what your work will be like in the next 2 weeks to 2 months. Of course, there are a great deal of individual differences and many people will find they are more engaged and productive working at home and hope they can maintain this working arrangement after the crisis ends.
Taking time and giving some thought to the transitions we are experiencing in this change can help us successfully navigate the turbulence we experience.
Do you want some temporary coaching/support/guidance to navigate the transition and to work from home successfully?
I am one of the world’s leading experts on employee experience and engagement, I taught counselling psychology for 25 years, was a workplace coach for Seagram/Diageo for 15 years, and I have personally worked from home for over 40 years.
Contact me today for 1 or 2 individual coaching sessions via phone, Zoom, or Skype. During this challenging time I am reducing my fee to $100 Canadian a session — under $75 US per session.
To get started email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 204 894 4483.