Article by Hannah Prince, Insights Learning and Development
While some people may be delighted with the thought of working at home for a long time because of Coronavirus (perhaps people who lead with an introverted style), for others (perhaps those with extroverted preferences) being isolated at home may be their worst nightmare.
However there are some steps anyone can take to help them cope better when working remotely at home – whatever their personality preferences. In particular, being highly self-aware and able to adapt to the preferences of others in your team when you can’t be together physically, can really help you to thrive in an unknown situation.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most of working from home:
Remember you can only control the controllable.
Introverted thinkers particularly may spend a lot of time analysing all the detail around the virus and the impact it might have on their work. Remember you can’t control the unknowns – look at what you can do rather than what you can’t and try to do it well. Make sure you open up lines of communication with your managers to express areas of concerns rather than bottling it up.
Have a flexible mindset.
Remote working may be an opportunity to try a different way of working and accomplish things you wouldn’t normally have time to do. For example, instead of your hourly commute, could you attend an online course, or start a hobby you’ve never had time for before.
Have understanding for people’s preferences.
Some people may thrive at home in a more self-contained environment, while others may miss interaction and the effectiveness a busy office brings for them. Introverted feelers may tend to bottle up worries, while extroverted thinkers may like to make their views known very clearly. This can lead to conflict. The key is to make sure you approach situations with a good dose of awareness of ‘self’ and ‘others’ when interacting remotely with colleagues. Try to not to react impulsively but take a more controlled approach, adapting it depending on preference.
See chances to innovate.
Being forced to work from home could lead to creative new ways to solve problems. Always be thinking about what the opportunity is to do something differently. Particularly if you lead with extraverted feeling, you may be struggling with the idea of isolation. Is there an alternative way you could get this social interaction e.g. Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom? Could meetings actually be made more efficient and inclusive if done virtually?
Work on your empathy.
Insights research into the experiences of people working in globally dispersed teams has also found that levels of empathy can be lower in teams where colleagues cannot see each other, so team members have to work harder to demonstrate compassion for example, considering – what’s the most respectful interpretation I can make of another’s behaviours at this moment? Amidst a Coronavirus crisis this situation is multiplied, so high levels of empathy are urgently needed to help remote teams connect.
Create your ideal working environment.
Some colleagues might relish time to work away from the hum of the office whereas those who thrive on the hustle and bustle of colleagues may find it disconcerting. Understanding your preferences can help when creating a productive working environment. If you like some background noise, turn on the radio. Are you someone who speaks to think? Ring a colleague to run through your ideas. Perhaps you love the silence but have family or pets that distract you – try to agree quiet times in another room from the rest of your household.
Create routine and a (flexible) plan.
Do you normally start your working day making a cup of tea with a colleague? Schedule 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to catch up on a virtual cup of tea call. If you’re inclined to become so focussed on a task that you lose track of time, set an alarm to remind you to get up, stretch your legs and have a break. If you’re someone who gets easily distracted set yourself an achievable to do list at the start of each day. Strong communication with your manager on what you’re working on and how you’re progressing can help alleviate stress for both of you.
About the author
Hannah Prince is the Business Psychologist at Insights Learning and Development. She has a passion for understanding the underlying psychological factors required for high performance in professional contexts.