Working from home: the 2020 resilience challenge

Marianne Lalande

Many of us have had to transition into remote working as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we do business, and the way we approach our mental health.

But moving your business life into your home isn't quite as fun and comfortable as it may seem.

When the outside world is in crisis, we need to turn to our inner resilience for support. But that sounds really abstract and difficult. 🤔  

The good news is that there is no "achieving" resilience; it’s more of a habit than a thing to cross off your list. You don't have to secure perfect work days, or even to set up an Instagram-worthy desk space if you don't want to. So let's get into it.

How do you build up resilience while working from home?

If you've been asked to work from home, you're probably trying to make it feel as normal as possible. You need to get your tasks done, your work approved, and your team motivated and positive.

But inevitably, issues come up during the adjustment period. Today, I'll address two pain points that employees typically run into when doing remote work:

◾ Lack of focus and productivity

◾ Conflict or misunderstandings with team members

Let’s see how we can find a little bit of ease in each of these aspects.

How can you tackle your lack of productivity at home?

Productivity is the word on everyone's lips. There seem to be two lockdown teams: the Productivity Heroes who bake their own bread and do a daily workout... and then there's the Sweatpants Nation. If you belong to the second team, it can be tough to be the model remote worker you aspire to be.

But why is it so hard to be productive? Between home clutter, lack of accountability and loneliness, it's easy to feel scattered and overwhelmed. Your mind is always busy. 🤯

I speak from experience. My usual worries, for instance, are about time management. So whenever I get a new task, no matter how exciting, my mind's initial reaction is to run through the following sequence:

"Oh no/I don't have time/If I do project X, I'll never have time to finish project Y/I can’t focus on this right now/What will they think of me/What if my work is actually terrible/I clearly don't know what I'm doing"

And so on (you get the gist).

This script takes a lot of energy to run in the background—not to mention that it's actively working to sabotage me. The tricky part is realising that it's there. As soon as I recognise that it's playing and creating the emotions that go with it (anxiety, sadness, loneliness to name a few), I get that ah-ha! moment.

Why is simply noticing it so powerful?

Because once I know that it's there, it is so much easier to detach myself from it. This thing that makes me feel small is an automatic thought pattern—not The Ultimate Truth. If you have trouble bringing yourself to get started on your remote work, examine what is going on in your mind. Does it feel jam-packed with the stress of to-do's, what-if's and why-did-I's?

No wonder you're struggling.

Your task is to recognise your patterns of thinking. Once you see those, you will find that your level of stress is wholly dependent on how true you hold your thinking to be. (And that can be life-changing).

How can you deal with online conflict with team members?

As much as Zoom meetings and Slack channels facilitate virtual communication with co-workers, there are many issues that may arise while remote working; passive-aggressive messages, endless meetings or micro-management...

Cultivating your own resilience is helpful to deal with these challenges (and your own irritation).

You might think: what if the problem lies with my team members, not me? How can personal resilience help me if others are at fault?

Consider this: you aren’t in control of what others do or say. The best thing you can do when you're stuck in an unpleasant situation is change your thinking around it.

I've found it helpful to think of reality as a relative thing. For example, I have my own idea of what I'd like my next article to be like, which is based on some assumptions:

◾ people like to read simple, easily digestible content;

◾ humour and visuals help keep readers engaged.

Based on those assumptions, I want my articles to be informative, light-hearted and easy to read. I also want it to have a good SEO score and to include as many GIFs as I can get away with. That's not The Truth; it's my personal understanding of what makes a good article. 

But what if my client wants something completely different? What if they want something technical, formal and without any images? They're probably operating under a different set of assumptions. I can guess at the following:

◾ professionals want to read technical content;

◾ GIFs look amateurish/can discredit the company's image.

Who's to say which one of us is right?

When you find yourself having murderous thoughts while remote working, zoom out. Try to understand that we all operate within different (and limited) perspectives.

Your understanding of a situation is different from other people's—not necessarily better or worse, simply different. More often than not, when someone asks you for something completely unreasonable, they're not seeing it that way.

They aren't trying to be stupid or to cause you stress, they just have different thinking around the issue.

If you would like some resilience training, click on the Apply button below. We are offering grants for online classes to people like you. Thinking about mental health and employee wellbeing is a great start, but these classes allow you to practice resilience working from home.

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This story was written by

Marianne Lalande
Marianne Lalande

Marianne is in charge of all things content at More Resilience. As a digital native, she loves bringing online culture into her work to show that technology and wellness really do go well together.

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