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Creating Successful Leaders

If you asked us at the beginning of the COVID pandemic what life would be like in December, most people would probably say, “December?! Surely, life will be back to normal by then.”

The reality, however, is that life is STILL different, there are more COVID cases than ever, and we’re still in for a long road ahead. Even if we do manage to get the pandemic under control, it’s certain that life will never quite be the same.

The number one change I’m anticipating is this: Work From Home (WFH) will become the new normal.

Are you ready for that change? What will you need to do to adapt?

In the not-so-distant past, working from home was not even an option for most people. We were expected to go into the office five days per week, 52 weeks per year. At the drop of a hat, that changed. People set up makeshift offices at home, and we began communicating with co-workers exclusively over email or video conferencing. We figured out dozens of tiny details (from childcare to finding a home printer/scanner), and then we dove in.

And, do you know what? Most people have been able to pull it off. Sure, we might miss our co-workers or miss the change of scenery, but many people have found that they enjoy certain aspects of working from home. The casual dress code, the ability to skip the daily commute, the money savings from eating lunch at home, the freedom to take an afternoon break–all these benefits have got people thinking about making WFH a permanent change.

Are you ready for that change?

Is your home office set up the way you like it? Have you figured out your new routine? If not, I urge you to give these items some thought. How can you, for example, set up a fairly disciplined schedule so you make sure you get your work done on time (and are not distracted by things like dirty dishes!)? How can you make sure you have an effective morning routine?

One way to amp up your WFH productivity is to think of it like you would think about working from an office. Commit to waking up at a set time, establish a morning routine (walk the dog, make coffee, stretch, etc.), and then begin your day. You might work in sprints (setting a timer and fully immersing yourself in a project for an hour or two) or be on the clock from a certain time in the morning to a certain time in the afternoon.

Figure out what works for you and ease into your new routine. Remember, your new routine may NOT look like your old work routine. For example, if you find that you tend to have an afternoon slump (Daniel Pink, who studies productivity, aptly calls this an afternoon “trough”), take a break mid-afternoon. You might exercise, stretch, do a crossword puzzle, or even take a short nap. This may mean you’ll work later in the afternoon, BUT your brief respite will ideally make you more productive than you would have been otherwise (meaning you’ll potentially complete the same amount of work in much less time).

And, about the home office: Be sure to invest in comfortable, ergonomic furniture. No one can do their best work if they’re putting up with a creaky, uncomfortable chair and a crowded desk all day. Make your workspace a place you want to be. That, alone, can make a huge difference.

Working from home IS becoming the new normal, whether you’re ready or not. Chances are, many workplaces will adopt a hybrid of the WFH model, but even so, it’s best to be prepared for this to become a permanent reality. With a suitable WFH setup and an effective routine, you’ll be prepared for whatever the work future holds!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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