Thriving vs Surviving: Remote work preferences

behaviours change leadership change management coaching confidence culture virtual ways of working Jun 21, 2022
Lata laughing awkwardly with green lamp; text: thriving vs surviving - remote work

What did I miss the most when I did a 6-week stint in Field Sales? 


Having a bathroom to pee!

It topped the list because not every customer was located at or near a public bathroom, and obviously there's no home or office bathroom to duck to.

Based on that alone, I'd never work in Field Sales again.



A close second was not having a fridge to store a home lunch, or a microwave to warm up said lunch. 

And lastly - I wasn't particularly good at it. 

But the bathroom, fridge and microwave were my deciding factors.




We human beings are a kaleidoscope of motivations, fears, desires, goals and expectations. 


And if your team is working virtually from home, remote from other offices or on the road, or a hybrid mix of in-office and elsewhere, it can be really hard to support each person to find their best way of working to thrive. 



So some hard truth here: it's not your job to solve every problem your employee has. Whether you're a people leader, Change Manager or HR partner, understanding where your line of responsibility ends is critical. You can absolutely have empathy, but you do not have to come up with the solution. 



The root cause of the stress of supporting different team members' working preferences is simply the fact that most employees aren't empowered within themselves to decide what they want and have the confidence to go after it. And that might be a new job that serves their ways of working better! Or an honest conversation with their partner about sharing the load with the household chores or kids (or hiring some help - getting a cleaner was the best thing I ever did and brings me so much joy). Or learning some new tools to maintain motivation and momentum when working from home.


Regardless, you'll still get faced with a melange of concerns, complaints and confrontations, so here's some ideas I've seen work well to find common ground across your team:



#1 Decide as a team when you'll be in the office

Communication is everything, and simply inviting team members into the conversation can help them feel that they are part of the decision. You might land on days and/or hours that don't work for everybody, but having an open discussion about it builds team trust and understanding on why the proposed schedule works best for most. 


#2 Plan in-person as far out as possible

Daycare days can be swapped, school pick ups can be outsourced, hotels can be booked to avoid peak hour. When you have workshops, offsites or team events that are critical and you expect as many people as possible to attend in-person: let people know well in advance! This means you have to be planned... so think ahead to give yourself the best possible attendance shot. 


#3 Build people's confidence in career and change

I mentioned this earlier but I really feel that the onus falls on employers when employees can't be adaptable or learn and maintain their own boundaries. My Leading Successful Change program actually has an equal split between teaching technical change leadership tools and techniques, and inspiring a personal transformation where my students come out feeling a renewed sense of self-worth, choice and empowerment around their career and their life. Sometimes, it's not your fight and one of my favourite episodes in the medical sitcom Scrubs is when Dr Cox tells JD he can't blame himself for patients' deaths that aren't his fault; once he starts, there's no coming back. You're probably not saving lives when you're leading your team, but ask yourself: is it your job (and are you the person best placed) to empower your employees around who they are, what they want, what they're worth and what value they bring? Sometimes, an independent coach is a much better support.



Look, if this blog post has reminded me of anything, it's how much I love Scrubs (I own the box set on DVD), so tomorrow in my break I'm going to piddle, heat my lunch up in the microwave, and watch an episode... because I've learnt what I need to thrive. And I'd do this whether I was in the office or out. 



If you'd like more ideas around how to craft engaging virtual experiences for your team, come along to my "How to Lead Your Virtual Team through Change" webinar. A replay recording will be provided for a super limited time. 


CLICK HERE to register your free spot on my "How to Lead Your Virtual Team through Change" webinar


Lata xx

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