On Tuesday 24 March 2020 MM Creative Solutions’ Managing Director, Monica Mwanje, hosted a webinar. The focus of the webinar was: ‘Increasing productivity and maximising wellbeing whilst working from home’.
Monica was joined by:
Shazney is a coach and corporate consultant who has worked with Accenture and other major firms. She’s a qualified mental health advocate experienced in coaching individuals and groups on the subject of mental health. Shazney is highly experienced at coaching, supporting and maintaining the wellbeing of remote working teams.
Callum is the founder and CEO of Thomas Thor Associates, a recruitment, executive search and HR consulting organisation dedicated exclusively to the global nuclear industry and with offices across Europe, North America and the Middle East.He has a team of 65 people across the globe, all of whom are working from home currently.
Monica is the founder and Managing Director of MM Creative Solutions (MMCS). At MMCS she has successfully worked remotely with clients ranging from large global multinational companies to UK SMEs. She has managed their bids and delivered business development and organisational development consultancy outputs. These efforts have helped clients secure business in nuclear and other highly regulated sectors.
Summary of the discussion
Key points raised by Shazney
- Mental Health Support. Please reach out to mental health advocates/allies and access the support you need. She also advised for people to be aware of support that is available. For example, organisations may have an Employee Assistance Programme in place. Groups such as the Samaritans and resources such as Hub of Hope are sources of help and support too.
- Be aware of the roles you are undertaking e.g. are you a parent, employed, a student, homeschooling children, do you have caring responsibilities amongst other things. Think about these different roles and, how much support you are getting. It’s important to think about your physical and mental wellbeing, because that will affect your day to day productivity.
- Leaders/managers – think about the support and resources you are providing for those in your teams.
- Be cognisant of the challenges / consequences of working from home e.g. lack of motivation, lack of concentration, a sense of isolation, or you may notice a dip in your creativity. To help combat this, authentic leadership from management is needed. Open discussion and a sense of connection and community can really help boost the workforce.
- Positive mindset and having a routine can help during times of uncertainty.
- Managers need to be aware of how to navigate mental health discussions.
- Strategies to employ to aid your wellbeing whilst working from home:
- Following a healthy diet can be helpful.
- Take into account your holistic health. Activities such as yoga, pilates or meditation can be beneficial.
- Physical exercise get outside (in accordance with permitted guidelines). This can help you feel better.
- Acknowledge if you are feeling anxious. This will help your mindset which in turn will help your productivity.
- Sleep hygiene. Apps such as Sleepio can help. Aim for good quality sleep.
- Plan in advance what you need to help you be at your best, as this will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Power hours or a power 30 minutes can make a real difference to your day
- Hal Elrod ‘Miracle Morning’ SAVERS exercise can help you set yourself up for the day.
- Implement a structured daily plan. Don’t overfill the list. Have key measurable things you want to get done.
- Minimise distractions.
- Leverage your network. Remember it is good to talk.
Key points raised by Callum
- As a company Thomas Thor Associates already had an element of homeworking, so had invested in the technology to support it over the years.
- Flexibility in working and working time is one of the key things that motivates job seekers, as they want work life balance.
- In his company they use videoconference software and they aim to speak on video if they can. The company has a monthly townhall meeting using videoconferencing software.
- They use Workplace from Facebook to aid communication and collaboration. They have got a wellbeing and homeworking group on there. Callum is actively encouraging contact, talking and building connection to look out for one another.
- Aim to be flexible to respect peoples’ home situations to enable balance when working from home e.g. people may have children, pets, care responsibilities etc.
- When Callum first started working from home, he was worried how he would adapt as he is a people person. Having a routine helped. Daily exercise helped. He aims to communicate via video where he can. He has a dedicated office space at home. He aims to avoid unhealthy snacks. Now he is fully at home and not allowed out (due to current lockdown rules where he is based), he is having more contact and more videocall contact with friends and family.
- Leaders should avoid micromanagement. Now is about giving direction rather than instruction and to trust your team.
Key points raised by Monica
- When she started working from home, establishing a new work routine helped. Time blocking to structure the day aided her focus, which boosted her productivity.
- Dedicated workspace is beneficial. Putting her laptop and work things away at the end of the day helps her to switch off work mode. This in turn helps her rest better, which means she is fresh when she returns to her work.
- Establishing good IT support was key, as this enabled her to maintain focus on her work.
- Understand what is in your control, acknowledge different thoughts, and use what works for you to help clear your head e.g. going for a walk, deep breathing. Defining what are true priorities helps too.
- Learn/understand what productivity looks like in your homeworking environment, to enable your best work, to the satisfaction of your clients/management.
- Seek regular feedback and establish communication routes. Regular communication and check-ins help, as then you can find out if your work/tasks are on track or if you need to course correct rather than worrying about it.
- Be considerate about when you schedule meetings and when you are asking people to do things by. Everyone will have different routines and different home setups/challenges.
- Check people know how to use the communication channels/pieces of software you are asking them to use. This eases pressure as they stop worrying about how to use it, this boosts their wellbeing, which in term aids their productivity.
- If you have a team calendar, have an easy system to indicate when it is ok to schedule meetings. This approach can help to reduce email traffic when trying to set up meetings, which saves time.
- Be clear on priorities and deliverables. Focus on the outputs. Agree a manageable deadline and then focus on the support/resources the person needs to do the work.
- Now is about developing the remote management and coaching skills needed to effectively lead your teams. You need to learn and understand what they need from you, so they do their best work whilst their wellbeing is maintained.
- Check people have the tools and resources to do the work you are asking them to do. Look out for and be aware of their wellbeing.
Some resources mentioned during the webinar:
A recording of the webinar can be viewed here: Increasing Productivity and Maximising Wellbeing Whilst Working From Home.