I finally succumbed to the need for diversion. Generally, once or twice each year, I will indulge in a science-fiction book. The challenge for me is I get so involved in the book once I pick it up that many other things come to a halt.
I have been thinking about wanting to kick back and relax with a good SciFi read for some time now. And then, a week ago, one of my tech podcasts mentioned a set of SciFi books that they highly recommended. But here’s the problem—there are eight books in the series, and I bought the whole set. That is very dangerous for me.
I have a lot on my plate. Besides my business and regular business reading, I am taking an online course for my coaching certification. Based on my experience reading the first book in the series, I know there will be much pressure to put business reading on the back burner. I’m hooked on them already!
My best chance of not letting the relaxation reading becoming detrimental is to make sure I keep my to-do list appropriately prioritized and up to date. I’m good at staying on task if I see the “big picture” and where things fit in.
Each leader and each employee is facing the same question—a balance of downtime and work time. We have always faced that question, but the lines are fuzzy as many of us are now remote workers. I have worked from home for almost 20 years now and have developed ways to keep myself on track. For new remote workers, the self-discipline muscle may need external support.
At first, the larger problem with stay at home orders was making sure our employees stayed refreshed and did not burn out. Many companies saw a significant increase in productivity with the change to remote working. The challenge may change to ensuring that their choice of diversion from work doesn’t become all-consuming. It looks like the U.S. will be under stay at home orders for a long time. So this problem will need to be addressed.
A Different Angle
As I mentioned, the work-life-balance challenge has not changed fundamentally. However, there is a subtle difference between not having a physical break by leaving the office and driving home for remote workers. In the beginning, that difference worked in favor of additional productivity. The price we paid was an increased risk of employee burnout.
It will be necessary for leaders to make sure we do not allow the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. If we maintain the same productivity level we had before being forced to work remotely, we will still have an advantage. That advantage is savings in commute time as well as employee satisfaction.
There will be many leadership lessons from our experience during this COVID pandemic. Among them will be sharpening our abilities around managing remote workers. The lessons learned will also make us better leaders when we get back to the office and in-person management. I suspect there will be fewer micromanagers. The leaders I know are quite pleased with how their employees manage themselves. For some, that was an eye-opening experience.
What are your lessons learned? How will you change your leadership style in the future?