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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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Multi-colored people in front of a mosaic of faces
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

As the U.S. goes through the biggest social justice movement since the Civil Rights Movement, it’s important to acknowledge diversity in the workplace. Systemic racism is deeply rooted within our society. Working to undo it won’t happen overnight, but we must commit to leading each other to a more equal future. Today’s turmoil is bringing up issues that were previously ignored by many. Workplaces have been known to use diversity as nothing more than a box to check off.

In reality, diversity allows for a variety of perspectives and new skill sets. 

Getting rid of diversity quotas is a good first step to take. Quotas can lead to tokenization. It’s important to make sure that your employees aren’t all similar people when getting rid of quotas. Giving women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, etc. a seat at the table where decisions are made can bring diversity to the rest of the company. 

It should be a no-brainer that employees with the same responsibilities deserve to be paid the same. Despite that, the gender pay gap still persists in our society. Addressing and fixing the pay gap at your company is an effective way to demonstrate that you value all your employees. It may not be an immediate fix, but it’ll provide long term and equitable changes.

Equal access is key to giving opportunities to everyone. Think about where you advertise your job openings. Does your advertisement feel targeted to a specific group of people? Is it posted on a website with a majority of white users? Also keep in mind your own biases when hiring. What does your selection committee look like? Recognize that not everyone can meet your job requirements. If a job requires a degree, integrate degree equivalency which includes equal work experience in lieu of a degree. 

You won’t know what problems your employees directly face unless you talk to them. Establishing a voluntary group to give feedback is a great way to hear about injustices within your workplace. Anonymous surveys can also be used to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. 

Continue the dialogue in your workplace. Inequality is not going to magically disappear. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary if we want to undo the systemic racism and biases that exist in our country and our workplaces.


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. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Woman at desk

We have to turn a profit!

We need to grow and improve!

We have to serve our customers as best we can!

We have to improve our marketing and reach more people!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in big-picture company goals. These are the objectives that drive the day-to-day. They are provide direction for you and your team. However, they are NOT everything.

Even though company objectives are certainly worthy (your organization wouldn’t get very far without them), they don’t always consider the engine that’s driving change: the employees.

Those who work within the company walls, fill out paperwork, brainstorm, attend meetings…they are the ones who make the world go ‘round. They are the force behind any company movement. If you get right down to it, nothing can be accomplished without people power.

So…why do so many companies seem to put their people last?

I argue that employees—team members—should be prioritized. Instead of treating your people as an afterthought, start engaging with them. Find out what makes them tick, what motivates and excites them. Discover what new and out-of-the-box ideas they might have—ideas that could drive change and innovation.

On the flip side, it’s crucial to understand what does not work for your employees. What are their sticking points? What do they believe needs improvement? What is slowly down or impeding their performance?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure your team feels:

  • Listened to (keep an open line of communication, get to know them, and make sure all voices are heard)
  • Supported (with both people and resources)
  • Motivated
  • Worthy and Important to the overall company mission

People should not be afraid of approaching leadership with concerns or fresh ideas. They shouldn’t be scared of taking sensible risks. They also shouldn’t feel like their leadership is distant and unapproachable.

It’s time to start listening to and empowering employees. They are the backbone of your organization, and if they are motivated and working within a fully-supportive environment, they will thrive.

Want to talk more about improving relationships with and among your team members? I am an Insights Licensed Practitioner and have helped countless teams improve their communication and team dynamics. Let’s talk!


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. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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