challenge

Remote working: the ups and downs

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I met a lady at a coffee shop recently while working on a presentation for Finland. She shared that her 3 kids work in different industries (business, urban planning, and medical support), all of them work remotely in varying degrees: two have office space that they use… sometimes, and the other has a home office and also uses coffee shops when appropriate. The lady herself had a season of working from home, but openly admitted that the discipline to stay focused and not jump into house keeping tasks became a loosing battle, so she moved back into the formal office setting.

This ‘moving back to the office’ is not about failure or defeat, it’s more about knowing yourself, the environments in which you thrive, and your limits.

Over the past few weeks I have been considering what I like about remote work, and what elements I’m not crazy about. I’ve also been chatting to others, researching, and brainstorming with peers to learn about their experiences. The short and sweet of it? Remote workers like the ability to be flexible and have a choice about how, when, and where the work gets done. As well, the idea of intentionality regarding work results in great productivity, and calls for much creativity in overcoming possible barriers.

The flip side? Things like poor communication, inadequate technology, and undependable Internet access can create great frustration for both workers, and employers. This in addition to the on-going struggle to balance work and personal space (thus the need for good self-discipline!). One final aspect that many individuals working remotely battle with is a sense of isolation and lonelyness.

Like any work situation, you take the good with the not so good…the question lies in whether or not you can overcome, or accept, the aspects that are less than ideal. For me, and for most remote workers that I have engaged with, the pros are great enough that the commitment to finding a way to make remote work, work…is worth the effort.

The number of people working remotely (in varying formats) is growing; next blog join me as we take a closer look at how both the workers and the employers are creating some really successful outcomes.

In the meantime, check out this interview conducted with a remote worker regarding his experiences. And yes, it does beg the question… “What are the key differences between remote working and nomadic working?” Nathan describes the first as being in a position of having an office (whether a home, shared, or separate office space) and the second being in a state of having no constant. What are the advantages, draw backs, and risks of each? A question to be answered by a nomadic worker?

 

 

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Rubber Ball or Glass Ball?

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“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls– family, health, friends, integrity–are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

― Gary Keller, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

I came across this quote today and it made me pause to reflect on how it informs my 3R summer (see previous blog). I’m fairly confident in saying that in my life, family and integrity remain front and centre no matter what. (Although integrity is informed and nurtured by attention to my spirituality…yup…more attention needed there). I truly hope that my friends would know how incredibly valuable they are to me, and know that they are right up there in my life’s priorities. Health…I’m not so sure I have given this the ‘glass ball’ consideration, rather it has fallen into the rubber ball category.

As I look back over my life, I’m again reminded that my health gets most attention when something ‘shatters’. I’m not talking about serious, life threatening, life altering scares…more the kind of reminders that say ‘ok, let’s take a step back and think about how you got to this state…again!’ Being the full out, 110%, fairly driven person I am, it seems that running full speed into these reminders is what it takes to get my attention, causing me to gear down before I’m forced to slam the breaks on.

The more I think about the ‘glass ball’ analogy, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that my health gets most attention when something cracks, rather than shatters. Cracks can be repaired, however, the more cracks an object receives, chances of restoration to it’s original strength becomes diminished without some major work being done. When we were young, body parts that cracked could heal so much quicker…like a greenstick fracture. According to the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org), a greenstick fracture may not even cause much pain or swelling, and a child could still have full use of the injured limb. That’s when we were young…

Do I really want to keep ‘cracking’ knowing full well what one crack too many could lead to? Absolutely not!

So, what can I do to stop this cycle? How can my ‘relax, refresh, rejuvenate‘ summer turn my ‘rubber ball’ approach to health into more of a ‘glass ball’ mentality? I’m thinking that this 3R focus is exactly what is required. To spell it out, I need to intentionally build in time to relax, so that my mind, body and soul can be refreshed. Once my whole-self experiences some refreshment, it will finally be ready for rejuvenation!

Sounds too simple…but maybe that’s exactly what it should be, simple. Slowing down means simplifying things, taking time for more deep breaths, more think time, more time to reflect, more time spent appreciating those special moments… I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes (author unknown).

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

For this week, my goal is to work towards acting on this quote…to look at preventing any more cracks. It’s tismart goal setting conceptme to practice what I preach about setting SMART goals, goals that produce the kinds of outcomes reflective of a life that makes room for relaxation, refreshment and rejuvenation.

Climb the steps…open the door!

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Santorini Door
Through the door…

I have just discovered that I have a fascination with steps and doors. We were looking through vacation pictures from Greece for the purpose of choosing five to print off and create a vacation memory wall…and it hit me! So many of the shots I had were of steps, stairs, and doors! Many of the doors led into private homes…each a different, vibrant colour. One particular door in Santorini actually let us access the descending steps that led to our vacation cliff home! When we opened the door, not only did we see the red clay winding steps, but we were also treated to the most amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea…breathtaking!

Perhaps my fascination with doors and steps has something to do with wondering where they lead. You can imagine the frustration when I came across locked doors, blocked steps, and ‘do not enter’ signs!

...down the steps...
…down the steps…

Does this reflect some of our approaches to training and development? Maybe.

I think it starts with our kids. We want them to grow, to be curious, to explore, to learn, but then hear ourselves say things like ‘don’t touch’, or ‘just do as I say’, or ‘hurry up!’. Moving on to formal education and the structure set in place that dictates the how and when of learning; Sir Ken Robinson has much to say on that front! Check out his blog at http://www.sirkenrobinson.com . Are we allowing time for exploration born out of curiosity, or do textbooks dictate the schedule and content?

Then we finally get the job. On the website we have read that the organization we have joined not only supports and encourages training and development, but places a high value on employees taking initiate for their own growth. Up the steps, hand on the doorknob, but it’s locked…this stated value is just that, stated, not actual. In fact you eventually discover that the first budget line to be cut when difficult times hit is professional development.

So what do you do? Throw your hands up and give up?

Not a chance…you take responsibility for your own development. It doesn’t have to come with a big price tag…be creative in your search for learning. Find a mentor, read a book, subscribe to the blog of someone who is a few steps ahead of you in their career, participate in webinars, and if the budget allows…continue your formal education. Another way to develop? Mentor someone…it’s amazing how much you learn when you are building into someone else.

…enjoy the view!

Next time you see an interesting door, or a staircase that leads to ….? Go through it, climb it, see what’s there, take time to probe and ponder what you find.