The Professional – The Coronavirus Chronicles: 5 Ways to Keep a Team Motivated & Engaged While Working From Home

To be absolutely certain, SARS-CoV-2 has altered and disrupted contemporary life as we know it. Our daily routines have been cast into disarray; so we steel ourselves daily with the resolve and steadfastness to answer different challenges we all face. As I stated in my previous post, working remotely from home is not as glamorous as it may appear to the public. Trust, those of us that can work remotely are blessed. However, there are some challenges that cannot be ignored. Locked down utilizing whatever space is available to conduct work efficiently and effectively can be challenging. For example, my role and responsibilities require a consistent carousel of interaction with suppliers, hospital personnel, sales representatives, executive leadership, and fellow colleagues. These tasks are not an issue within the comforting confines of a cubicle or meeting room. Now, at home – not so much. Without a doubt, the concept of work-life balance has been disrupted. Coupled with the elimination of in-person team collaboration and the specter of furlough or termination; the combined stress can deplete what little remains of a worker’s drive and enthusiasm. As leaders, how can we keep a team motivated and engaged when the energy just isn’t there given the current environment? I am not an expert, but I offer 5 tips below that might be helpful.

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Daddy Diary – The Coronavirus Chronicles: 10 True Confessions of a Parent Working From Home

Perhaps contrary to widespread popular belief, working from home is not as glamorous as may be suspected. Please, do not misunderstand, I am very thankful for the capability to continue my employment remotely. Nevertheless, working remotely does pose unique challenges that cannot be easily dismissed. Every morning I board the struggle bus on the way to work. My patience, energy, and emotions wear critically thin as the day progresses. Sharing a workspace with 2 toddlers and a spouse (also working remotely) while trying to work effectively is truly demanding. And life does not stop simply because your work is now based out of your kitchen nook. One afternoon I was working in the dining room when I heard my daughter call out from upstairs. She was taking a nap and woke up with a nasty nosebleed.

Of course, I had to stop what I was doing and tend to my daughter. First, I stopped her nosebleed. Then I stripped her bed, blotted her mattress cover with hydrogen peroxide, cleaned up the blood that had trickled down the hallway & stairs, stain-treated her Frozen dress and sheets, and laundered both before returning to work at the table. Ah, I forgot, I prepared her afternoon snack after all that was completed. Nevertheless, I was proud to show her that the Frozen dress was clean. Each day presents its own adventure. So yes, working from home is a privilege for which I am truly thankful, but the battle for sanity ensues every time I open my eyes Monday through Friday. Below, you will find 10 “confessions” of a working dad just trying to remain productive in a Brooks Brothers button-up and Goodfellow pajamas from Target.

  1. Scenes from a pandemic – work from home edition.

    As perplexing and strange as it may appear, I confess that I actually miss certain aspects of the workplace. Trust me, I don’t miss the daily Michigan commute or intervening in petty office squabbles. However, I miss the daily soup and chili served in the cafeteria. I miss the adult conversation with a few colleagues, such as opinions about the latest episode of The Walking Dead or what team will reach the NBA Finals. These are conversations that cannot be had with toddlers.

  2. And speaking of toddlers, if you see my mouth moving on a video conference call, yet no sound is detected, the mute button is not unintentional. Most likely I am bellowing instructions at my children for quiet or attempting to quell a potential sibling fracas. Also, if my fingers are interlocked and positioned in front of my mouth in a thoughtful pose; you guessed correctly, I am bellowing instructions at my children for quiet or attempting to quell a potential sibling fracas. I just try to look intelligent doing it.
  3. If at any time my computer screen goes unexpectedly “dark” during a video conference call; the bald eagle is on the move. Whether it is preparing lunch for the children, breaking up a fight already in progress, or tending to a toilet clogged with Charmin Ultra Soft – some situations require hands-on attention. Generally, I have my mobile phone in tow so I can keep up with the group conversation and chime in when needed.
  4. Cisco Jabber is a vital tool for communicating at my job. Cisco Jabber is an application that provides instant messaging, conferencing, voice messaging, and desktop sharing. When utilizing the instant message function, there are various statuses that can be displayed to designate a user’s current condition. Now, when my status transitions from “available” to “away”, nature is probably calling and I have to settle a bit of business. And no, my mobile phone is not in tow. A brother has to set some boundaries.
  5. True, I write about style and dress for gentlemen, but working from home has changed up everything regarding dress code. To state that the dress code is relaxed in my home office would be an understatement. Yeah, you may see my rocking a sport shirt during a video conference call, but a brother is sporting pajama bottoms – clear out of sight of the camera. Now, my director did surprise one afternoon with a video call. He caught me wrapped up in a blanket. Look damn it, Michigan decided to pretend it was early February, and it was cold in my basement! At least it wasn’t a Snuggie.
  6. Sometimes I skip showers. There I said it. I literally roll out of bed and log in. And I do not care. For years now, I would awaken at the crack of dawn and perform the following duties: get both children showered & clothed, prepare their breakfast, pack their lunch, get myself showered and clothed, drive them to school, and then continue my commute to work. Now mornings are not as hectic. I can multitask better. So, yeah, sometimes I may not hit the shower until late afternoon or evening. And I seriously don’t give a damn. Nope. And I can’t be shower-shamed either.
  7. Prior to video conference calls, I ensure my background is painfully plain. Just because I’m rocking pajama bottoms and won’t shower until 5pm, it doesn’t mean I want people to spy random items strewn around the house. I always do a quick room check before turning on the camera.
  8. I desperately attempt to find areas of isolation to work undisturbed, but there aren’t many viable locations in my home. My children always find me. Of course, they have no idea that Daddy is on a video call, so they will casually stroll into the room behind me doing kid stuff – like having a dance party. As you can see in one of the pictures above, my daughter decided to whip out her sleeping bag and set up a spot to chill behind me.
  9. With my office setup essentially in my basement, sometimes it is hard to disconnect from work. Sometimes I find myself logging back in after my family has retired for the night. So generally, I am the last person to go to bed, but one of the first up – Ava usually beats me by a few minutes. She is even so kind as to wander to my side of the bed and hand me my glasses. That’s her way of telling me to get up and get going.
  10. All things considered, there has been a benefit that I admit has been welcome. I am not eating fast food because I don’t drive anywhere. I am saving a lot of money on gasoline. Since school has been canceled, I have received a temporary reprieve from school tuition. And even though they drive me up the wall, I am spending more time with the kids since I am not getting home late from work. Sure, I am slowly losing my grip on reality, but there are some positives to glean from the experience.
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