Working remotely was growing steadily until COVID-19
Over the last ten years around 5% of the work force in EU has been working permanently from home. The Coronavirus outbreak has changed this and it became the norm. Startups, and corporates alike, moved their employees to remote work during these exceptional times due to safety concerns. Already before the corona crisis, over 25 million people in Europe worked remotely at least some days of the week. Most of the remote workers are over 40 years old and women are more likely than men to work from home. The Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg are the countries with highest percentage (over 10%) of total work force working remotely.
There are ways to make working from home more pleasant
I know many startups that have major part of their employees working remotely and for some it is the only way to work. However, it can be psychologically stressful to be without human contact for a longer period of time. This is especially true for outgoing social people and those who live alone. Some even start missing those “annoying” colleagues from the office environment. Companies and especially startups have implemented virtual online after work get-togethers. Might this be the thing for your company, a virtual coffee-break or lunch with a colleague to catch up? Remote workers state that the main benefits for them are the flexible working hours (although most of them do work during normal working hours) and the location, which requires no commute. On the negative side are the possible feelings of social isolation and the balance between working too much or too little. Self-discipline is an essential skill for remote working.
Whether we are working alone or in a team we are always interacting with other people
Difficult times such as this coronavirus outbreak, although uncertain and isolating to most of us, can be used to do some positive things. The time we save in not commuting to work is a great opportunity for self-reflection. We can use this time to make changes that will carry a positive long-term effect.
Remember the colleague or boss you tried to make understand a great new idea and failed? The colleague that tried to push you to decide something on the spot, when you felt you needed a bit more than a sketch on a napkin to change the strategy of the company? Did it ever occur to you that maybe the approach you used (or they used on you) was not optimal? It is easy to misinterpret each other; we humans each have our preferred behavioural style. Perception is reality.
To change is a mindset, and if you are motivated you can do it
Some people think it’s too late to change when you are an adult. I realised it is never too late to change when I sat next to a 76-year-old ex-mining CEO from South Africa during my INSEAD Masters in Organisational Psychology. I decided, at the time, that if a 76-year-old thought he was not too old to change, I, who was almost 40 years younger, had no reason to slack. Since then I saw the importance to understand how our behaviour impacts the way we are seen by other people. Knowing how to communicate with each other effectively, makes a world of difference in getting your message through. This is why I started to do executive coaching for openminded leaders who seek to grow even further and become more self-aware. I also coach teams to improve their internal communication and enable them to work more effectively together.
Remote work is a challenge but for the most of us perhaps a temporary solution. We were forced into it, but what we make of it is our choice. I continued writing my book that had been lagging for some time. A crisis is an opportunity or a curse. You choose what you make of it be creative and make the best of it. The best way to do it, is to DO IT.
Stay safe, stay motivated!
Ps. Let me know what ways you find to cope with the situation