“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
There’s a lot to be said for this in the current #workingfromhome climate.
Are we getting to know each other more from our home bases?
Are we embracing our imperfections more?
Are we all showing more of ourselves to each other?
So far, I’d say yes. I think it’s wholly positive and the impact must be lasting.
Real human connections.
With the removal of the physical place of work, teams everywhere have been very deliberate about using virtual means to stay connected. We’re rising to the challenge, we’re being incredibly creative and it’s brilliant.
We’re not only using technology to connect and keep each other motivated on work affairs. We’re actually taking the time to ask the question: “How are you?” and mean it.
Virtual morning check-ins; tea breaks; post work drinks; sing-alongs.
It feels like teams are building more human relationships through this time and it’s great.
There’s also something fantastic that happens when people communicate from their home base – probably the physical space where the majority of us feel most at ease and most comfortable in the world.
I’ve noticed some telling trends from the many virtual meetings that I’ve had over Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams – or whatever your medium of choice is – over the past week or so.
People are feeling more comfortable to just be themselves. Stripped back. Well perhaps it’s that we have no choice but to show ourselves when working from home. There’s no escape. Whatever your home reality.
Yes, I do have children, I do love and have to look after them, they might sometimes walk in and I have had to duck out into the kitchen for this one.
Or, yes, I’ve got a dog, my flat isn’t that big and it’s in a bit of a mess, I am wearing a tracksuit today and no I don’t wear shoes or socks when I’m at home.
Embrace the imperfection. Embrace being you. Don’t do this…
At The Speakers’ Gym, we’re always insisting that people bring more of themselves to work – authentic, relaxed, comfortable in their own skin and less afraid to show imperfection. After all, perfection isn’t very human at all. So what’s the point in pretending?
Removing the formalities.
Take a business meeting in town, for example.
The removal of the commute to the city to meet up or the need for “business attire,” the sign in and wait in reception, the “business handshake” and the massive, clunky conference table between you in a fairly stuffy meeting room.
Now I’m not saying that every meeting must now be conducted from your bed, in trackies with children on lap to show that you’re human. Of course not.
And there’s certainly lots to be said for starting your day with purpose, being intentional, getting dressed and not just rolling out of bed and stumbling into your working day.
But, often with a virtual meeting, shorn of the facade, formalities and trappings of “doing business,” the only thing left to do is have a very human conversation.
These “formalities” too often get in the way of real, authentic human connection. And they needn’t.
When you remove any phobia of technology or discomfort in an unfamiliar medium, there’s a huge opportunity to build more intimacy and authentic rapport with clients and colleagues from our remote bases.
Our Virtual Communication Coaching Programmes can certainly help you in this department – easing the transition into this “new normal.”
However, I think that the key take-away when normality returns is that, regardless of whether we’re communicating virtually or face-to-face, from home or back in the office, not only is it ok to be ourselves at work, we must insist on it.
“The injunction to “keep it professional” (means that) nobody feels comfortable being who they really are at work.” Jill Scott
No-one’s at their best and we miss out on the glorious variety that results from individuals embracing their idiosyncrasies and bringing their whole selves to work.
We must insist on creating cultures and environments where people bringing their whole selves to work is encouraged and celebrated.
I say this could be one of the key legacies from this enforced period of home-working. A world where business is less formal, void of role-playing or any sense of a need to conform. A world where people truly celebrate who they are, accept and embrace fully who their colleagues and clients are, making work happier, healthier and infinitely more productive.
There’s no doubt that the current times are incredibly challenging and sad. But this could be some lasting good that will see us come out the other side stronger.
By Chris Wickenden, 1st April, 2020.