There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything for managers. Now that we all find ourselves working from home, we are being forced to find different ways to do everything that we used to do. Managing a team, delivering results, and doing all of the additional tasks that managers are called on to do can be especially challenging when we are isolated at home. What we need to do is to find ways to make our new work environment be as successful as working in the office used to be.
Working From Home Changed Everything
Working from home is a new experience for many managers that we may not have the manager skills to accomplish. Some of us have adapted: A recent survey found that 65% would like to make the arrangement permanent. But another survey found that seven in 10 people called this the most stressful year of their working lives; 41% said there no longer was a distinction between their personal and professional lives. For so many managers, Round One of this pandemic was fueled with adrenaline. What many people are now asking is, “How long is this going to last?” Whatever the answer, workplace experts agree that there are a few simple steps anyone can take to improve their work-from-home experience.
Create The Right Setup For You
What managers need to realize is that the best way to a better workday is to put your home setup under a microscope and fix what isn’t satisfactory to you. Managers need to focus on where they feel the most friction. They need to discover where their biggest pain points during the day are. Where do managers feel the most stressed or the least comfortable in their home office?
Create The Space That You Need To Work
As difficult as it may be to create, a dedicated workplace helps productivity. Improving your home office, whether it is a whole room or a corner of a table, can be as simple as taking a moment to consider whether the chair that you are sitting in is comfortable. If private space at home isn’t possible, you can always try equipment such as noise-canceling headphones. Eliminating clutter also is crucial, especially in tight quarters. When we are working at home, not everybody has an office with a door. If you’re looking around and you see a bunch of piles you need to ask yourself if it is it serving you well?
Take Time To Find Your Focus
One of the benefits of working at home is that we are now the ones who are fully in charge of our personal schedule. Working from home lets many managers organize emails, meetings, conference calls, workouts and personal errands however they choose during the day. While this works for some, others find themselves struggling to focus on their individual tasks. At home, it’s not just that managers are trying to battle work distractions, it’s also that they’re getting distracted by all the other things we feel like we should be doing there. One way that we can take control of our time is to set a timer for 30, 60 or 90 minutes of focused work, free of distractions such as email, app alerts and beeps from devices. After you have completed a sprint of work, stretch, go outside, have lunch or just take a break.
Be Aware Of What Causes You Stress
One thing that every manager needs to be aware of is that the number of people in the U.S. reporting signs of anxiety and depression since the pandemic began has hit a new high. Managers need to identify what makes them feel most stressed and how they can mitigate stress and feel better. What we need to understand is that it’s less about having a best practice and more about knowing yourself and what you need.
Make Sure That You Understand The Expectations Of Your Job
When we are working at home, it can be all too easy for us to lose sight of just exactly what our company wants us to be doing. That’s why now might be a good time for you to ask your boss how things are going. Use this conversation to ask about short- and long-term goals and your boss’s expectations about when you are starting and ending the workday. This is the time to be upfront about your own needs, whether it is a few hours to finish a project when you won’t be answering calls or emails or a warning at the beginning of a video meeting about a potential interruption. Know that transparency helps everything.
What All Of This Means For You
The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s lives – including those of managers. Whereas we used to go into the office every day, we now find ourselves sitting at home all day trying to get work done. None of our manager training ever prepared us for this scenario. What we need to do now is to adjust to our new reality and find ways to get the most out of it.
The first thing that we need to do is to make sure that our home office setup works for us. We need to remove anything that we feel is holding us back. We need to ensure that we have a dedicated workspace in which to get our daily work done. There can be many different things that distract us when we are working from home. We need to take the time to find our focus. Finally, we need to take the time to talk with our boss and make sure that we understand what is expected of us in these new and trying times.
Nobody can tell us how long the current pandemic is going to last. As managers who are responsible for a team of people, we need to make sure that we can still work effectively even when we are working from home. If we take the time to create a workspace that allows us to get our work done, then we’ll be able to continue to be successful. Make the right changes and show the pandemic who is really in charge!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: If people keep interrupting you when you are working from home, what can you do about it?
Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I don’t know about you, but I’m always open to getting some advice. Being a manager is hard work and I don’t claim to know how to do everything correctly. What I would really like is if someone that I really respected would take the time to point out what I should be doing in order to become a better manager. It turns out that, of all people, Bill Gates is willing to do just that. Hey, if he’s talking to me, then I had better be listening.