Lately, I’ve been curious about how people find themselves at work. It seems harder to let outside influences go as we jump into our days in a world that sometimes seems anything but normal. Many of us try to “be professional” as we sit at dining room tables that have become our home offices, attending Zoom calls while attempting to mute at the same moments our toddler screams and our dogs bark at the Amazon guy. The usual distractions used to be the smell of someone heating up last night’s fish in the community microwave or the coworker’s personal conversations over the cube wall, but now our distractions are intensely personal and not as easy to drown out.

As we work from home, making a clear distinction between our home and work lives is becoming harder. So the question becomes, “Do we try harder to force the separation or just let our coworkers and clients see a little more about who we are outside the office?” Although uncomfortable, my vote is for the latter. I also don’t think that we have to swing from one extreme to another, based on who we’re interacting with that day we can work within a spectrum of authenticity that is based on trust. 

Low Trust: Higher Walls

If we’re dealing with a client or coworker that we may be lower on the trust scale, we may choose to build some barriers between our home life and the life we project on our Zoom meetings. Some ways that we can create some “space” starts with how we’ve configured our digital meeting space. For example, if you’re working in your bedroom, you may want to consider using the Zoom background feature. This can give you a little more privacy while you’re doing video-conferencing. Also, you may want to invest in a noise-canceling headset.  A headset is a great way to filter external noises at your house, but it’s also a great way to prevent your little ones from overhearing heated business discussions.

Medium Trust: Test the Waters

Perhaps you’ve been working with your coworkers for a few years and you’re willing to test the waters maybe it might be time to let them in a little to your home life. The Covid pandemic has introduced a completely new element to our working lives and it’s natural to feel a little uncomfortable in this new environment. Although Dorie Clark’s article What to Do When You Don’t Feel Comfortable Being Yourself at Work was originally written for those that don’t feel comfortable in their current work environments, I think it can offer some great suggestions for those that are uncomfortable about working from home. Broadcasting our home lives can display some of our deepest vulnerabilities however, exposing these vulnerabilities can also open us up to deeper relationships. The key with those you’re starting to build relationships with is to start small and work from there.

High Trust: It’s Still Not a Face-to-Face Conversation

If you’re on a work call with a colleague or client you’ve been working with for years, still beware of the technology you’re using to communicate. If you are using a technology that is sponsored by your company, it could be automatically recorded. And if it is recorded, are you sure you want that conversation played back to you someday? Based on the relationship (colleague or client) you may choose to introduce your family members while on conference calls (especially if you’re interrupted), but you still want to make sure that each layer you reveal of your personal life is being matched by your colleague or client. 

Working from home presents an interesting social experiment. After years of working with people face-to-face, seeing how they live and interact with their families presents some challenges. Continuing to assess how we show up for work and the version of ourselves we display will continue to evolve. There are no easy answers but continuing to examine who we trust with which information will continue to be a factor in how we now reveal ourselves to those we live and work with.

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Making Change Stick: Training is a Huge Step in Adoption

Woman training team of people

Let’s face it; change is hard. Many of us have recently dealt with more change than we ever thought possible. In the shift to remote work, many of us have learned that implementing change requires more than just a solid strategy for change management, but on a deeper level, it requires a commitment to learning how to work differently. 

Many of us initially struggled with the transition from face-to-face to remote. However, after we did a little training by reading some articles, watching a few Zoom meeting tutorials, and then practiced what we had learned, we got better. We need to apply the same strategy to our organizations after creating a change. We must solidify the change by continuing to train and reinforce how we’ve learned to work differently after the change. In this article, we’ll discuss three ways to use training and development to reinforce the changes made at your organization.

  1. Use a training sandwich approach. When a change or new process is rolled out, make sure you create a training sandwich. Train your team before, during, and post-implementation. Repetition is key to solidifying change and making it “stick.” Although there are many ways to approach this idea, Procore is a great example of a software company that has given tremendous thought to how important training is to adoption. Procore has learning paths and certification programs for each type of user accessing their platform as well as continuing education content.
  1. A link to a Confluence page or a Sharepoint site is NOT training. Training by definition is “the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains.” Other synonyms for training include: drill, exercise, practice. In Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, Mattis details the preparation required prior to any military campaign. Drills and practice are critical to the success of any mission and Mattis attributes much of the success he experienced on the battlefield to the drills conducting prior to each mission. Successful outcomes directly resulted from extensive practice so that when errors were made on the battlefield, his troops could quickly adapt and overcome. What if we applied this same care and diligence in our training programs after a change was made within our organization? Practicing what we learn is key to adoption.
  1. Communication is a two-way street. After changes are made, many times the communication stops. Implementors of change stop sending written communication and managers stop discussing the new change at meetings. However, how teams communicate change and keep the conversation going, is another key aspect of training. Communication should not be the one-way push of information. A key element of communication is listening to feedback and creating forums for discussion. Don’t underestimate the power of listening to your team. Discussion is a key element of learning and reinforcing new changes. These discussions can also lead to improvements and innovation as well.

Change may not always be easy, it’s important to nurture the change once it’s made. Backing change with a solid training approach is an excellent way to reinforce and increase adoption within an organization.