Note: We haven’t included in this article our thoughts on workers who provide essential goods and services who are continuing to work outside their homes in the current environment, albeit in many cases under significantly more pressure and risk than usual. We would like to acknowledge and thank all these workers for everything they are doing, in particular doctors, nurses and all workers in the health system who are putting themselves at risk every day to save lives.
The current situation of managing during the covid19 lockdown has forced us to rethink our work, our strategies, the way we connect with each other and generally the way we work overall.
For every employment status – employed, self-employed and entrepreneurs, in many countries the subsequent lockdowns due to Covid 19 have had a huge impact on each and every one of us. From the way we structure our lives to the way we organize our tasks, perform our duties, deliver results, respond to queries, produce our work and so on.
It is now common and acceptable to hear children in the background of many conference calls and we accept household excuses such as “I need to prepare lunch”, “I need to share my computer at the moment” or “there’s a bad wifi connection” as comprehensive and natural. We are becoming more human, more compassionate. I remember this famous BBC interview video, where a child in a completely innocent and playful manner opens their father’s office door in the middle of a live interview. We all had a good laugh with friends and shared the video while being grateful that it was not us who got “caught” working from home and having children! This video is now our normal life and we are not ashamed anymore, we even publish it on social media!
Our surroundings have also changed as you can see from both of our working-from-home pictures above! We now have to share space or work in the kitchen and these new surroundings require new skills and abilities. Skills such as managing and supporting the engagement of virtual teams, or connecting with our colleagues in different ways. We need to put our self-discipline into practice. There is no more “social pressure” to be sitting down at your desk or not have your music on while working. We work how we want and if we want to respond to WhatsApp messages during “working hours” there really is no one who will “see” if we are not doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing and how.
For the first time in history a high proportion of the workforce – regardless of their working status – is experiencing the same situation. However, some groups are coping better than others. Personal circumstances aside, one factor that strongly contributes to how we cope with the situation relies on the working status people find themselves in at the moment. In the Emotional Salary team, we’ve had regular conversations with clients and colleagues, we’ve been reading what people and groups are sharing and we’ve come to the following observations:
1. Employed people who are able to work remotely are the ones who seem to be managing best.
Many employers have previously developed a platform for virtual communication, computer allocation, the possibility in some cases to be compensated for a wider wifi band coverage, platforms for task sharing and so on. Many of these people may already have been working remotely prior toCOVID19, though possibly not in a permanent way like we are now. The reason why this group is best at handling this situation is because, through their status as employees, the company is taking care of them (in most cases), they have already agreed tasks that they need to accomplish, and targets to be met. They also have a team to whom they respond or are able to ask questions if needed. Even if they are physically isolated they have a constant reminder that they belong to a team and they have tasks to fill their day. Still, they need to respond to the challenge of adapting and responding to this new situation and environment. Some of them now need to cope with combining their work with a household routine or with taking over more household or family duties. If you belong to this group, recognise the value that comes from having the opportunity to keep on working more or less normally. Be up to the task, be responsible, disciplined and prove your worth. It is a fantastic network that is supporting you.
2. Self-employed, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who are able to continue to work in their business are the second group of workers who are semi-successfully managing during the covid19 lockdown, but not quite as well as the first group.
This group has always had the mental attitude to re-invent themselves constantly. They are resilient, constantly challenge themselves, set personal goals, create new ideas, are used to searching for ways to connect with like-minded people and are generally smart enough to find a path that suits them well. Many of them were already working from home or were used to working flexibly. Good WIFI and a good connection is all they need. They are used to being extremely flexible. They have it in their DNA to be positive and hopeful. This is because they are warriors and they are used to diving in uncertain waters. But it’s not all rosy. The sharp economic downturn is hitting them hard. Projects have been cancelled or postponed from one day to the next. When the economy goes down it will affect them directly and first hand and even if they are used to living in uncertainty, this time, we are talking about a different animal. If you belong to this group, it is important to be grateful for your resilience, strengths and abilities to swim in wild waters and keep moving forward, work as you’ve always worked, prepare your game well and avoid, where possible, thinking too much about the uncertainty. Concentrate on staying focused on the task you are currently doing and do not let the uncertainty knock you sideways.
3. Finally, those who are employed and self-employed with no possibility of working from home are the ones who are struggling the most, especially in a lockdown situation.
We are talking about those workers whose company does not have the capacity for virtual working or whose business/place of work is connected to an industry that has ceased to trade temporarily (think of hairdressers, waiters, shop assistants and so on). It may be that they don’t have personal computers or the company might not have a platform to share and/or set the work to be done. This group is now at home, cannot work and their mind is driving them crazy with apprehension. Additionally, for many, the situation is hitting them really hard as we speak. In Spain, for example, many are being temporarily laid off. Lots of small and medium companies will cease to trade because of the current situation. If you belong to this group try not to delve deep into the unfairness of the situation and hope that when things go back to normal, you will have the possibility of continuing in your job or starting to rebuild your business. Try to use this time to learn as much as you can from the various free learning platforms to revamp your knowledge and skills. Take some comfort from the fact that you are not alone and that millions of people around the world are in a similar situation.
In the Emotional Salary team, we know that in critical situations details count. And the awareness of these details becomes crucial to keeping your head above water. In whichever group you belong, be grateful of any single positive detail that you experience, whether it is the opportunity to have a phone call with someone important to you, sharing a virtual coffee with a colleague, having a good laugh, a meal shared with loved ones, virtual check-ins or having family, friends or colleagues that support you when you are feeling low. Every gesture counts. And help is the new buzz word. Help in any way you can. It can be physical support, such as helping a neighbour in need, or emotional support like saying something nice to a colleague, a note of appreciation, or just a like and share on Linkedin or Facebook. Everything counts.
Bruce Dickinson always knew better when he said: “Nothing lasts forever but the certainty of change”.
We know that the isolation and uncertainty can be challenging and overwhelming which is why we are offering free virtual calls with any managers who would like to discuss how to manage their team’s Emotional Salary during this ever-changing time. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to schedule one of these calls – we look forward to meeting you online!