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April 2, 2020 / Articles We Like / Blog / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Four Tips to Navigate Working from Home

by Anne Loehr, Executive Coach, anne@mariposaleadership.com

I talk for a living, whether it’s through keynotes, employee trainings, executive coaching, human capital consulting, writing articles or just a chat with a client. I’m lucky enough to have clients from a variety of industries and sectors, giving me a wide view of how organizations are handling similar situations. This week alone I had the honor to chat with people from large consulting firms, start-ups, Federal government, tech firms, mid-size companies, biopharma organizations, large school systems, manufacturing firms, real estate industry leaders, and HR professionals. I learned a lot of best practices for navigating the Covid-19 work from home (WFH) situation and I’d like to share those with you here.

Schedule daily white space

Someone said to me, “It’s just telework. It’s not a big deal.” Wrong. It’s not just telework and it is a big deal. Why? Because the old paradigm of telework was that you worked from home 1-2 days/week, usually while others in your home were at work and/or school. Now everyone is working and learning under one roof, which adds complexity to the situation. I have it fairly easy; our high school daughter can self-manage her day. However, I have one client who has 3 children under the age of 5 at home while both he and his wife are trying to work. Ouch! That’s a tough situation!

So what are organizations doing to manage this? One best practice is to create intentional white space and schedule set times for team calls. One firm only holds calls from 8:30 am – noon and then 2 – 5 pm, local time. This allows people to have a midday break to attend to their own personal needs or the needs of those who live with them.

Learn together

It’s easy to disengage on employee development right now. I’ve heard “Training and development is a non-essential, so we’re cutting the live employee training we had planned”. I get it; financial stability and cash flow is vital right now. However, don’t forget about your teams who want to feel a sense of normalcy. So instead of offering a live employee development training, conduct a 60-minute virtual ‘lunch and learn’ on living through change or a 45-minute webinar about stress management instead. It’s easy to do and shows the teams that you are still there for them.

Lempathy

It’s easy to lose focus when WFH, so set clear focus on short term goals and how the goals align with the organizational mission. Create a 2-minute podcast or video to remind your team what you’re working on and use shared docs to create accountability.

It’s also easy to tilt toward excessive empathy, such as “It’s OK that Biva didn’t achieve his tasks today. He has 4 kids at home.” Giving a pass every once in a while shows flexibility; excessive empathy breeds missed deadlines. So use ‘both/and’ instead; in other words, try “Wow! Having four kids at home while working is hard. How can you achieve the biggest deadline today and have the kids home? What’s the first step? Second step?” Bottom line: show you care AND that goals still need to be completed. One of my coaching clients calls this “lempathy”: leading with empathy. It works for him; see if it works for you.

Focus on self-care

Stress manifests in different ways, for different reasons. In general, there are three pillars of health: physical, mental and emotional. Take a self-assessment and ask yourself how you’re doing on:

Physical: Maintaining the nutrition, sleep and exercise that your body needs
Mental: Focusing on the task at hand
Emotional: Self-regulating your emotions appropriately with those around you

Whatever you do to manage your WFH situation, remember to keep it fun! People want to feel connected; they are looking for the water cooler experience, where they can just have a fun chat for a few minutes with each other. So set this up with virtual coffee chats, happy hours, walks, exercise classes and even hobby times (knitting anyone?). One company in Boston creates daily entertainment videos for the employee’s children to watch while the parent is working. Another organization spreads smiles via Skype. What will work for you?

I’d love to hear how you are navigating your work from home in these stressful times. What is working for you and what is not? Let’s share experiences. Send me an email or contact us on Twitter.

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July 31, 2018 / Articles We Like

On “In Collaborative Work Cultures, Women Carry More of the Weight”

Are women penalized for being team players? Recent research shows that in organizations with relationship heavy cultures, it is women who feel the burden disproportionately.

Renee Cullinan, author of the recent HBR article, In Collaborative Work Cultures, Women Carry More of the Weight says there are important differences in the way men and women view collaboration. According to Cullinan, “Women are less likely to carve out time during the workday to focus on their top priorities, because they feel guilty or selfish for doing so. […] If women do carve out time, they tend to give it away if someone needs them.”

What’s happening in your organization? If you find that the women are carrying a disproportionate share of the collaborative work, take a look at Renee’s tips for disrupting the gender imbalance.

Let us know your thoughts.

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May 31, 2018 / Articles We Like / Influencing Skills

On “5 Ways to Project Confidence in Front of an Audience”

What makes a great presentation? According to Carmine Gallo, author of the recent HBR article, “5 Ways to Project Confidence in Front of an Audience,” you need to deliver your message with confidence and competence to tap into your full leadership potential.

Whether you are speaking to a large audience or in a team meeting, you still need to look and sound as strong as your content. Check out Carmine’s top five tips to present like a leader with influence.

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April 28, 2018 / Articles We Like / Influencing Skills

On “Let This Former Googler Help You Tap The Science Of Persuasion”

To successfully lead you need to master the art of influence. According to long-time product leader for Chrome at Google, Tyler Odean has found that what most people think of as vision is actually persuasion.

In the Fast Company article, “Let This Former Googler Help You Tap The Science Of Persuasion,” Odean presents the science that has informed his approach and the persuasive tactics you can use that will make you more convincing.

When you are preparing a persuasive presentation or message, what steps do you to take to ensure that your argument is more appealing? Consider using his five guiding principles as a checklist before that next big meeting.

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March 31, 2018 / Articles We Like / Influencing Skills

On “Is the Confidence Gap Between Men and Women a Myth?”

When it comes to achieving power and influence in the workplace, is confidence the differentiating factor?

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Is the Confidence Gap Between Men and Women a Myth?,” Laura Gillen’s research has shown that while self-confidence is gender neutral, the consequences of appearing self-confident are not. According to Gillen, appearing self-confident does not translate into influence the same for men and women. She argues that organizations need to take action and adopt processes and systems that change how women are rewarded equally.

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February 28, 2018 / Articles We Like / Influencing Skills

On “How to Increase Your Influence at Work”

Knowing how to influence teams, clients and stakeholders is a crucial aspect of today’s business environment. There is a real value to be recognized as someone with influence – it can help you get important projects done, get noticed, and even promoted.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article “How to Increase Your Influence at Work,” Rebecca Knight outlines some principle do’s and don’ts to be the leader you want to be, regardless of your role or title.

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January 30, 2018 / Articles We Like / Influencing Skills

On “3 Ways #MeToo Will Influence the Business World in 2018”

In the wake of recent scandals and controversy sparking the #MeToo movement, there is growing pressure on organizations to reveal more about their cultures and workplace practices. What does this mean for leadership in 2018?

In a recent Inc. article “3 Ways #MeToo Will Influence the Business World in 2018,” Spencer Rascoff, Zillow Group CEO, argues why organizations must first embrace unprecedented transparency and how leaders must shift their focus to HR and company culture.

We each play a role in creating a strong company culture, and the key is combining transparency with trust and respect for all employees.

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November 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Leadership

On “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded”

There’s always more than one point of view. And now, in an ever-polarized world, it’s important to consider those that are not your own. According to John Brown, who was recently featured in the Fast Company article, “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded,” truly being open-minded is actually a counter-intuitive mental task that takes purposeful action.

So, what if our divergent values and ideas could provide for healthy dialogue and innovation instead of polarization?

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September 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Stress / Work-Life Integration

On “Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn’t) Good For”

According to the media, the benefits of mindfulness have recently exploded into an ubiquitous cure-all for fixing our problems. As it happens, most of the research around mindfulness is not grounded in rigorous scientific evidence.

In his recent Harvard Business Review article “Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn’t) Good For,” Daniel Goleman found that less than 1 percent of the studies he researched met rigorous scientific standards. So, while you can’t believe everything you hear about mindfulness, he is quick to point out that there is solid research that shows us what meditation can really do.

What do you think about Daniel Goleman’s four key benefits of mindfulness?

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August 31, 2017 / Articles We Like / Stress / Work-Life Integration

On “Current Events Stressing You Out? Do This for a Saner, More Focused Workday”

Keeping up with the current events this past week – natural disasters, nuclear missile threats, protests and riots – is enough to put anyone on edge and induce low work performance and burnout. Whether it’s political turmoil or a reorganization at your company, employees who are concerned about their future are likely to be distracted and unproductive.

In his recent Fast Company article, “Current Events Stressing You Out? Do This For A Saner, More Focused Workday,” Art Markman shares some practical tips to help us keep calm, and stay focused and productive during uncertain times.

What do you think of his recommendations?

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