How to keep motivated through the new working environment

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Written by Rob Cross on 11 August 2020 in Features
Features

For Rob Cross, there are plenty of positives to take from the year's changes. 

For even the most stoic of us there is no denying that recent events have disrupted our personal and working lives in 2020 beyond recognition. The start of a new decade usually heralds the opportunity to review and start afresh, but no one could have anticipated or expected that to include our everyday routines and working practises being flipped so dramatically. 

Yet, as the world came to a complete standstill in March, and schools, offices, factories, shops, public transport, even parks closed their doors, we adapted. And quickly. Through the challenges of home schooling, zoom video calls, and dodgy home Wi-Fi connections, we prevailed. 

If there is one thing that never fails to surprise and delight me, it’s our innate human ability to roll with the punches and weather adversity when the going gets tough. 

Whether we’re experiencing a personal crisis or one of epic global magnitude like COVID-19, the challenges thrown at us seem to be enable us to go back to basics. I believe this is in part driven by our base survival instincts, but also as they are a marked reminder of our humanity. 

We’re able to hit a reset button, reassess what is important in life, shift perceptions and often change behaviours and habits that perhaps weren’t so positive in the first instance.   

If there is one thing that never fails to surprise and delight me, it’s our innate human ability to roll with the punches and weather adversity when the going gets tough.

Through my work as a leadership coach and mentor I have continued to support leaders in many blue-chip businesses throughout lockdown, and as we slowly and tentatively emerge out of the other side. Though sadly there will be economic casualties and tremors felt for years to come, I have seen how those leaders have adapted and overcome the initial hurdles of altered working practises. 

Many of these leaders have talked to me about the positive shift the crisis has wrought on behaviours leading to stronger communication, teams working better together and quicker decisions that not only means a happier more motivated workforce, but ultimately benefits the bottom line. 

Yet a new common thread is emerging. Now the sense of emergency has subsided, and we’ve adapted and proved we can still function and operate remotely and to vastly altered working practises, leaders are increasingly coming to me to ask how to keep both themselves and their teams motivated. 

In principle, there are three words that seem to keep popping up in these conversations that encapsulate our living reality at present:

  1. Frenetic – crazy levels of activity as we all try to make sense of the new world
  2. Uncertain – no clear view on what the future might hold
  3. Mundane – each day now feels like it’s rolling into the others

Even as we see some familiarity returning to our world as the government allows non-essential businesses and travel to resume, we’re also being constantly hit daily with negative news. 

From job losses to business closures, infection and death rates, and an inevitable second wave, its relentless, and it’s all consuming. There’s this unseen threat still hanging over us all and quite frankly, this is leaving a lot of us struggling.   

 

The reality is that sense of being unable to predict what our immediate future holds won’t change any time soon. Yet the world should and does go on. So how do we overcome these feelings of anxiety to inject the motivation back into our lives? The advice I gave to two partners I was coaching, and I give to anyone struggling is as follows:

  1. Break your routine

Review your ways of working and start thinking of ways you can do things differently to break up the monotony of the day.

Our commute to and from work, school runs, even early morning gym sessions were all circuit breakers in our normal working day. A clear marker to the start or end of the day, a chance to get ourselves fired up for a tricky meeting, or unwind at the end of the day – these natural breakers no longer exist.

Many of us who work in an office environment will still continue to work from home for at least some if not all of our working week for the foreseeable future, but rather than be chained permanently to the desk in your spare room or your bedroom, think of ways you can break the routine.

If you have space to do so without distraction, consider working from a different part of the house. Alternatively, as meetings are permitted in open spaces why not arrange a walking meeting with a colleague, or a socially distanced team meeting in a park rather than your weekly zoom catch up calls?

  1. Reframe your reality

Review your sense of reality to look for new opportunities. For example, rather than accept your job as inevitable, imagine that you were either losing your job or setting up a new business in the current environment – what would you do, who would you call and about what?

  1. Create clear priorities

This might seem over-simplistic but ensure you have key things to achieve each day and week. Even the most organised of us has seen our normal routines and work methods thrown into disarray. So if you have found more recently that you're struggling to prioritise workloads, setting deliverables is a great way to get you back on track and drive accountability.

Ultimately this new working normal is our reality and its hear to stay for the foreseeable. Remember we’re in a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve got to take a different approach to help us keep focused, energised and most of all sane.

 

About the author

Rob Cross is the founder and CEO of Muru Leadership.

 

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