Well-Being First and COVID-19
Highlighting three key challenges at work in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do about them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the reality of our VUCA world once more into the spotlight.
Our connected global community is easily vulnerable to the spread of disease, at a speed that we have hardly seen before on this scale. This week, as all types of organisations, from governments, businesses and local sports clubs put measures in place to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus, we are forced, to take a step back and reassess how to cope and adapt to these new circumstances. It invites us to upgrade our thinking, doing and being, to boost and maintain resilience going forward.
Measures taken to ensure social distancing are now impacting all of us in some way, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or financially. For each of us, raising awareness of how we are personally affected and considering how others may be experiencing the situation provides us the opportunity to grow consciously in our own personal leadership and in compassion and connection with others to get through the current challenges ahead together.
Here, I highlight three areas of impact and aim to provide some insights into how you can take personal leadership and co-responsibility (whether you are an employer or employee / independent worker) in ensuring your own well-being and resilience as well as supporting that of others during and following this time.
1. The Rise of Anxiety
Anxiety is a real problem which, if not tamed can start to paralyse our ability to think and act. The impact is often lack of focus and concentration, limited planning and reasoning, as our limbic system is aroused and limiting activity in the prefrontal cortex in the brain.
With businesses cancelling events and projects, a higher level of worry and anxiety is inevitable. For some, the fear of infection to themselves or loved ones is very real. For others, there will be uncertainty about the impact on their work or personal income. The personal lack of control over the situation leaves many feeling helpless at this time.
2. Isolation / reduced social interaction
Social distancing measures are forcing many people to work from home. Undoubtably some people are initially sensing the increased freedom and flexibility in how they work in their home environment and the opportunity to meet with a friend for lunch close by. However, for many people, leaving the home to go to work is their social lifeline. It provides structure, rhythm and a certain amount of exercise, on a daily basis, depending on the job. In families with young children, going to a place of work is a relief as it allows them to fully focus on work without having to juggle ad hoc demands from their children and other family members.
3. Adapting to a new remote way of working
Working remotely means that many teams are challenged with thinking creatively how to best collaborate under these new circumstances. Businesses have rapidly initiated new guidelines on how to continue a smooth delivery of service. Whilst remote working technologies have been around for many years, applying them in some new areas of work will mean disruption and a dip in effectiveness and productivity in the short term as individuals need time to adapt and adopt new practices.
What can you do right now?
As an employer, creating an environment of safety and trust is paramount and providing ways to support employee well-being and resilience during this time will pay off later.
Create opportunities for open dialogue
Allowing employees to share how this situation affects them personally not only helps your people feel valued and heard, it will help you as an employer understand how exactly you can support your people further.
Trust and empower your people to be autonomous
Encourage them to take actions which support their mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being whilst maintaining open communication and flexible agreements. As each person is given the space make the extra arrangements they need in order to work effectively, this empowerment can energise and connect a community of dedicated team members who all do their best to keep everything going together.
Encourage actions of care and compassion for each other
We may not know some personal details about our colleagues which are impacted by the situation and trigger some responses of anxiety. Our default is to hide our vulnerabilities and avoid being judged. Asking a colleague how this situation is impacting them and what emotions it triggers will bring awareness and the ability to find solutions. It can also provide a genuine relief and feeling of being heard and recognised, when that person can truly share their concern. Go further to ask what support they think they need and how you can play a role in that at this time.
Support individuals in taking responsibility for their well-being
Whilst the pandemic and it's impact on our lives can be the catalyst, it is an inside job to keep worry and anxiety in check. Recognising thoughts and feelings about the situation is the first step. Practicing self-inquiry will helps pinpoint the trigger and labelling the emotion associated with the thought will bring initial awareness and some relief. From this point, there is the possibility to reframe the perception, create a new context and practice more supportive thoughts. Providing (reminder) information and resources to support self-care will help.
For example, the following proven methods calm the limbic system in the brain and support balance and clarity going forward:
- Meditation - Just 12 minutes a day is sufficient for benefits to be felt
- Walk in nature - Getting out of the house for short exercise and fresh air
- Focus on what is true and certain right now - and accepting that we will find out more by a given date
- Take responsibility for what you can influence yourself - getting into action creates a sense of autonomy and forward movement which avoids the feeling of being stuck.
You don't need to do it alone. The increased pressure of implementing emergency measures means already more work than the busy 'business as usual' days.
The Company Coaching Café supports organisations and individuals by offering 'shots' of coaching, online and on-demand. We provide that safe space for people to reflect, release stress as well as work on creative solutions and adapting to new ways of working in the current situation.
Should you want to learn more how we can help you, contact us today: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +31 (0)6 55116500.