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Working Remotely – Reflecting on an opportunity...

Ian Middleton is another friend and former colleague who is guesting on my blog. Husband, father, grandfather, cancer survivor, Ian brings a down to earth voice to the teams he is a part of. An accomplished seller, suburban Sydneysider and (sorry Ian) Dad joke specialist, here he reflects on the lessons of lockdown.

We’ve all been there recently, exiled from our normal office environment, pleased that we don’t have the commute, but in many cases missing the social interaction that a workplace offers.

Working remotely suits some colleagues, if they don’t have to home school, or find a “nook” somewhere, because there are numerous people working from the same home space…. there are positives and negatives for many.

Reflecting on my experience to date, my thoughts go back to common themes that I’ve heard over the numerous Zoom calls.

  • “When we were locked down, I went to the bottle store. I am going to need alcohol to get through this….”

  • “I’ve put on 5kg since we’ve been locked down….”

  • “My workday and home life are blurring, and its difficult to switch off….”

So many people have expressed these sentiments or observations. I’m not being judgmental here, far from it – I’m all for getting through in the best way you know how. I took a step back and thought – I don’t want to get caught in some of the traps, so what can I do that helps avoid some of this.

My health, both physical and mental was my focus. I was already on the large size, in fact bordering on having a weight problem that was going to have long term health implications around Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. My relationship with food wasn’t great – I just loved too much of it, and its was accessed all too easily.

My wife and I decided to watch what were eating, and start a diet based on mindful eating, portion size and balance of meals. We are 10 weeks in to lock down, and I have reduced my weight by 10kg, lost 5cm om around my waist and am able to do more exercise due to increased energy levels. Medically, I am no longer on some medications, and other dosages have been reduced. I am no longer in the “high risk” category for Type 2 diabetes.

The downside of all this……………. if it continues, I’m going to need a new wardrobe, and nobody can tell me how good I look for losing the weight. For now, I’ll take that. By taking some time to reflect on the direction others were taking personally and making a conscious positive decision to change my direction, the benefits are significant.

When it came to the blurring of the work/home balance – I found a simple way to help deal with it, and it has come down to my personal dress code! When I was going into the office, I would dress as though I may meet a client at any time. I wore a suit, and collared shirt every day. In the early days of working remotely, I like most dressed casually, and whilst everyone was doing the same – it just didn’t feel right, so I once again took a step back to work out why?

There was a difference in how I felt, and how I approached “work” when I dressed “for work”. My mindset was different. My performance was different, my focus was too. The speed at which I was working had slowed. What I could get done in an office by 5pm, was taking me until 7pm to finish remotely.

So, I experimented. In normal office hours, I went back to wearing my normal office attire. When I did, I was “working.” I was more focused, my productivity increased, and I felt more positive about what I was doing. I was completing what I set out to each day, by normal close of business. And when I step away from work, the first thing I do, is to change out of my work gear.

What is also unusual, I sense my breathing slowing when I do that too. It’s almost like having come off stage, or off a sports field at the end of a game. Performance over, I am giving myself permission to relax.

Why put all of this into a blog? I’m trying to make the point that despite restrictions, and concerns, we can still make some personal choices that perhaps don’t align to what most people are doing.

For me, doing that has created so many positives – more than I set out to achieve, so when you hear what others are doing, just take a few moments, reflect, and work out if it is really something you want to do, or if you can take an opportunity to do something different, and a sustainable long-term benefit is the result.

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