No Quality of Life For You! Myths of the Remote Workplace – Part Four

As we conclude this four-part series, it’s essential to focus on the most important of all myths. That is, it’s impossible to create a thriving, balanced life, achieve career goals, and be productive when working from home.

MYTH #7 – You Can’t Have Work-Life Balance without The Physical Separation of Work and Life

When Working Remotely – Establish The New Rules of Engagement

It’s hard enough to manage our careers and lives in a way that honors our priorities, goals, and core values to create the balance and harmony we want, especially in the present moment, with all of the distractions, uncertainty and competing priorities.

Compound this with working remotely, and a whole new set of distractions emerge that you may have never dealt with before, in addition to the ones you typically experience on a daily basis, further adding to a feeling of stress and overwhelm.

  1. The doorbell
  2. The children, family
  3. The gardener
  4. The neighbors
  5. The refrigerator/kitchen
  6. The television/news
  7. Home deliveries
  8. The “To-Do” and “To-Fix” home projects
  9. Social Media
  10. Your physical workspace (Is your bedroom also your living room and office?)
  11. Home chores
  12. The refrigerator/kitchen 😉

Here’s a personal favorite. Now that you’re working remotely, your family may think you have the extra time to take on more daily responsibilities!

This can certainly impact your peace of mind. In fact, in a study of 15 countries, including the US, UK, Japan, India, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, 41% of “highly mobile” employees (those who more often worked from home) considered themselves highly stressed, compared to only 25% of those who worked only on-site.

A surprising statistic for many people who may consider a work-from-home lifestyle to be one that’s less stressful and marked with more personal freedom. And it can be! However, creating your best life requires changing how you manage your new lifestyle.

You Can’t Create Life Balance Without A Scale

If remote work is new to you, then chances are, your family has never had this much insight into what you do each day! As such, boundaries need to be set. Boundaries are basically your rules of engagement around how you protect your time and priorities, while setting new expectations around when you work, how you work, how you want to communicate, collaborate, be treated, supported, and how you’ll be able to best engage, be present with, and support your family in a better way.

Basically, boundaries require getting comfortable saying, “NO.” And remember, “No” is not a dirty word. In fact, the people you admire most are probably very good at saying no, but in a way that protects their  priorities, values and their time. Otherwise, people will continually cross back and forth over the boundaries you’ve created at their will.

In order to honor these new boundaries you set at home, it’s essential to set expectations and boundaries with the people you work with, including your boss, peers, and customers, regarding work hours, response time, deliverables, preferred communication platform and cadence, customer service, and so on.

Tip from the Coach: If you’re like most people, you work for your phone instead of your phone working for you. The phone rings, you answer it. A text or email comes in, you respond immediately to it. Then, before you know it, you’ve put in a 14-hour workday, sacrificed what’s most important to you and don’t understand how to make your life the priority.  The rebuttal, “But Keith, if I don’t respond immediately, I may lose a customer! This is what they expect from me!”

Who do you think taught them these dysfunctional rules of engagement? You did! That’s the good news because it’s in your power to re-create the environment and structure of your relationships, while aligning what your customers and coworkers want and need from you.

While many people feel rapid response time is essential when acquiring and retaining customers, it loses is impact and luster when it comes at a personal sacrifice.

Here’s your opportunity to reset expectations and make your phone and your remote office work for you. Take advantage of resetting expectations with your customers as well regarding your availability and response time, and how you’ll be able to serve them best, so you’re now setting your boundaries, not everyone else.

But setting new boundaries and expectations with the people in your life is not enough. Mastering time management, and more important, self-management, is no longer an option or something you can overcompensate for by working longer and harder if you truly want to own your day and create the life you want today.

So, if you want the ONE question to determine whether you’re on the right path to achieve your goals, and create your ideal, balanced life, here it is!

Looking at your daily calendar, from the time you wake up until you end your day, have you time-blocked ALL the daily activities that will enable you to attain your personal and professional goals, while honoring your personal priorities that keep your life in a state of harmony, health, and happiness, and without personal sacrifice?

If you’re like most people, the answer is a strong, “No.” (Here’s my course on how to  master your time and create your ideal life.)

Take advantage of this opportunity to reschedule your life by designing your career around your life, instead of continually having your life designed and dictated by your work, and other people. After all, either you own your day, or your day owns you.

Multi-tasking is DEAD. Be mindful of the distraction trap. You cannot multi-task when coaching or during a virtual meeting. It’s like playing hockey, soccer and basketball at the same time. You’re not playing one sport to the best of your abilities.

There’s a bright side. A study by Inc. found that working remotely has its perks. When you take everything into consideration, there are actually fewer distractions from no more commutes, inter-office interruptions and drama, and emergency meetings, helping further save money and time.

MYTH #8 – My Team Won’t Embrace Change

Time To Schedule Coaching Sessions

At this point, you may be making the costly and toxic assumption that your people, while many may not like it, understand, and are embracing and easily adjusting to this dramatic change.

Conversely, your top of mind question may be, “How do I set the new expectations around productivity and how we’ll be working, supporting and communicating with each other so that we can achieve our sales targets and business goals?”

Here’s the very next conversation you’ll be having with your team. I can assure you, this is a conversation that no managers are having, simply because they’re probably struggling with the same issues their team is working through and don’t know how to approach this. Until now…

For a Successful Workplace Transformation, Set New Expectations Together

Making this a collaborative process will continue to strengthen the relationships with your employees, as well as your customers. Here’s a coaching talk track to facilitate this conversation.

“With all the changes around how we live and work, now that we’re all working remotely, it’s easy to feel isolated and uncertain about the future. That’s why I wanted to discuss how I can best support you in this new environment so that you still feel productive and connected to the team, the company, and to your career and personal  goals, while creating a healthy, happy life. And feel free to ask me any of these questions, since I could use your help, as well. Are you open to talking about this now?”

Once you’ve clarified your positive intent and the value that’s in it for them, here are the questions to ask.

1. How are you feeling about this transition?

2. What’s working well for you so far?

3. What are you struggling with most?

4. How are you managing and balancing your personal responsibilities and priorities, while staying productive at work?

5. Walk me through how you’re currently managing your day? Can you send me a screenshot of what your daily routine looks like so we can compare how we both manage our day and learn from each other?

6. How have you set boundaries and expectations with your family when you’re working at home to ensure you’re productive and not distracted?

7. What’s your self-care regimen? (Physically, mentally) How much time are you spending each day taking care of you? (Exercise, meditation, reading, taking a walk, getting out of your house/workspace each day? The health benefits of getting outside are priceless.)

8. How are you turning off work at the end of the day so you can be present with your family, and yourself?

9. What did you assume would be difficult about this transition but wasn’t?

10. What did you assume would be easy about this transition but was more challenging than you thought?

11. What can you do to stay connected to me and the team so that you don’t feel alone or isolated?

12. What’s your preferred method of communication? (Email, text, phone, video conference, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, Morse code)

13. How often do you want to connect/schedule one on ones? What cadence works best for you?

14. How can I best support you to create a productive, rewarding and supportive workplace that would ensure you’re achieving your business goals while honoring your lifestyle, core values, personal goals, and priorities?

TIP FROM THE COACH: Create the Accountability Partner Agreement:

To ensure we’re both supporting each other while holding each other to our commitments, can we both agree to be each other’s accountability partner? That means, if either of us notice that we’re engaging in behaviors that aren’t helping us, our brand or our ability to achieve our goals, we can bring this up to each other (via text, email, phone) knowing that our intentions are always positive and supportive. Can you commit to that?”

Without initiating this nonnegotiable conversation, you’ll be spending your time cleaning up all of the collateral damage from failing to set proper expectations in this new workplace because:

If Intentions Aren’t Clear, People Default To Fear

Developing and strengthening your remote management, coaching and communication skills by continuing to have conversations like these, are the linchpin that maintains the health, trust, continuity, connection, accountability, relationships, productivity and collaboration among your team.

Most importantly, this will avoid the feeling of isolation or being left alone to figure out how to navigate these new waters all on their own.

It’s Time to Create New Possibilities – Think Inside the Box

I trust many of the costly myths around how to successfully manage, coach and develop a remote team of top performers have been shattered, while creating a great life!

In fact, given the benefits and measurable impact of a top-performing remote workforce, you may feel inspired by the possibilities that you can now create for your team, your company, and you that you never have before!

Remember, the most important part of being a great leader, especially when leading a remote team is, TRUST, DEPENDABILITY and CONSISTENCY.

All this uncertainty and lack of control in the world today only exasperates fear, isolation, self-preservation, worry, and stress.

That’s why having this conversation above is not only a way to build deeper trust and deliver immense value to your team, but to you, as well, by self-reflecting on these questions on your own.

Regardless of the current state of your business, one truth will always remain constant. That is, in order to create greatness within your organization and inspire, coach and develop others so you’re achieving your sales goals, managers must unconditionally continue to honor the A.B.C.’s of Leadership – Always Be Coaching!