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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #69

A Look at What We've Learned About Working from Home (so far).

[Photo Credit: Christy and Scott Jeffery (my nephew and his wife with daughter Quinn).]

I sent out a quick survey earlier this week looking for examples of real learning ... from real people ... in real time ... during this work-from-home mandate. I'm certain my stats professor would frown at the hurried design (sorry Dr. Galda!), but my intention wasn't really applied research. No, my motive in doing this survey was to hear some of the real-life stories that have transpired during the past 3 weeks of nation-wide 'house-arrest.' My hope was to gather any anecdotes, examples, and/or evidence that we are growing with the flow.

I wasn't disappointed!

For the past two decades, I've been consulting, training, writing, and speaking about work as a 'learning laboratory' and how any form of disruption or struggle can actually accelerate the learning process. The U.S. Army War College curriculum summarizes this phenomenon beautifully with its acronym, "VUCA." These four letters stand for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, and describe the type of learning environments where humans—throughout history—have experienced significant growth.

We are—undeniably—experiencing significant VUCA today ...

So how will we grow during this current crisis? This VUCA? Much of that will depend on how we approach each day. Let me use an example ... among the powerful nuggets of learning I extracted from the survey responses (see HVAs below), there was an absolute gem that I believe captures the need we have to reframe our thinking (and mindset) about the current situation:

"We aren't STUCK at home ... we're SAFE at home!"

Wow! Doesn't this immediately change the perspective?

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

Here are several responses to my informal survey that epitomize the essence of reframing the current challenge to extract the most value from this learning journey:

  • "I'm starting to feel like a (slightly more complex) houseplant!" This survey responder made me laugh with his opening line about learning to deal with isolation. He went on to describe the steps he's taken to open more lines of communication with work colleagues, friends and family. His favorite 'share' is that he now has lunch 'together' with someone every day through his virtual platform. He commented that before he was working from home he usually had lunch alone so this new working arrangement has stimulated a positive change!
  • "We've learned to adjust to our different work-style preferences." This response is a great reminder that people differ in their preferences for whether to integrate their home life with their work life. Some individuals are 'compartmentalizers' who prefer having work and life separate. For these people, having a defined space and time in their home for work activities will be necessary. Others are 'integrators' who are comfortable with (and even enjoy) bringing the two domains of home and work ('life') together. These people may be most productive with work and life activities overlapping.
  • "Bring your pet to work has taken on a whole new meaning!" This person noticed that pets of all kinds have had a positive impact on any virtual-based meeting. Dogs, cats, birds (even fish) making guest appearances (sometimes 'arranged' but frequently impromptu) during virtual meetings are very popular and have prompted significant relationship-enhancing conversations.
  • "We purchased headphones!" Spouses and partners who haven't worked much together are discovering many new things about how they operate when in 'work mode.' Some people adopt a much louder conversational tone when on conference calls; some hum or whistle; some are loud keyboarders. Several responses on the survey stated that noise was a huge distraction and headphones have been a big help.
  • "Draw a line between work hours and after-work hours." This is good advice when things are normal but even more important in a work-from-home situation that consists of working shoulder to shoulder every minute of the day. Plan (together) for a physical and mental transition into home time. When your work hours are long or unpredictable, try to take formal breaks to share a meal or conversation without checking email or talking about work.
  • "Be extra patient and reinforcing." This individual described the reality that everyday stresses are magnified when you're worried about friends and family, isolated from your community, and uncertain about the future. Little acts of kindness, such as an acknowledgment or "thank you" can help keep tension levels low.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think."

— Martin Seligman (Learned Optimism) —