It is a month now, since we have been in lockdown and the first message, I sent to you after one week of lockdown, seems so far away.
I wanted to reach out, as I know that going through these exceptional experiences, which we are living, is not always easy. I just hope you and your family have been keeping safe.
For all of us, the first couple of weeks must have been focused on making this confinement work for ourselves and for those with whom we share our household. Naturally, we have all been implementing a routine, ensuring that we were sufficiently stocked in food, finding the right balance between our professional life and our personal life. Overnight there was suddenly an overlapping of the personal and professional worlds, with our house turning into our office, and making this work, I am sure has proven to being quite a challenge. I am sure most of us are counting the days, to being able to go out again and actually go to work, to enjoy the sharing and caring we are used to as a team.
The BIG issue, which I am sure we share, is all the uncertainty which surrounds this crisis leaving us with a lot of unanswered WHY, WHAT, WHO, WHEN… and then should we add the IF we get into new scenarios which are even more frustrating, not to say worrying.
In fact, we are all looking for answers to basic common key questions: How and when will this lockdown get unlocked? What will be the new normality after Covid-19? Will the economic crisis that will hit the world affect me? How can I secure my future and the future of my loved ones?
Keep Calm and Carry On (*)
Now, and in coming weeks and months I would say, our ability to keep calm will be our best ally. Firstly, because it has been scientifically proven that the hormone which our body produces when we are under stress, reduces the fighting ability of our body. Secondly, because whenever we need to make decisions, the chances that we make the right one are increased, when we have assessed the situation calmly with our emotions controlled.
For sure, there is a lot to be dealing with and focussing on our work might reveal challenging. This is why I wanted to share with you a few of the tips I have been using to remain on the ball and not fall into the turmoil of panic and stress.For me, keeping my brain occupied with my work and do my best to achieve objectives, which very often I set for myself, have proven to be a good way to get through these challenging times. We never have time for cleaning our mailbox and filing for example, well now is the time and I am enjoying taking these items off my “to-do” list !
1. Sticking to a routine
As you certainly know, I am a very organised and a very (hyper)active person. I get out of bed in the morning, before everyone at home, and I get in my daily routine. I start with a cup of tea, catch up on some news and I take time to think about 3 objectives that I would like to achieve during my day. They are normally simple and achievable objectives which will provide me satisfaction. It may sometimes be something not very interesting or gratifying to do but I know that after having done it, I will have the satisfaction of having handled it or merely got one thing off my to-do list. This is my driver and it helps focussing, while not being distracted on whatever other things I may have on my plate.
Then I get into cleaning and tidying mode, setting my environment for the day. I plan the meals and then jump into the shower. I dress up, more relaxed than for the usual day at the office, and I am ready. With my second cup of tea, I start my day by opening my laptop and catching up on mails.
I trust everybody must find a routine that suits his/her reality. For those having children, this routine is probably even more important to make sure that everyone and everything finds its place and rhythm during the day.
Routine is part of the comfort zone which human beings need. I invite you to reflect on what could be improved in your daily routine to make you and others in your household feel better.
2. Creating a productive working space
Not all of use may have the leisure of space. Whatever the scenario, I believe that however small our place may be, we can all find a place which will be more conducive to work, while we will have another place which will be best for leisure.
While home and office mingle, finding a small area in our home that clearly defines the lines between each of these worlds, does definitely help.
While choosing our “office” in the house, we should ensure that it is properly lit, ventilated, calm and have a good network coverage. Some people may have no problem working with noise around (be it music, playful children, television, or a dog barking) but most of us need a quiet place. If I need concentration, or if I have a conference call, I will often close the door and we have agreed with the rest of my family in the household, that it is a time where I am busy.
Working from home requires discipline, self-control and set boundaries, in a way to stay focused. Breaks are however important. However, but I believe breaks should be the equivalent of going for a coffee and chat. Should we stop, to get involved into daily household tasks for example, it is to my opinion a productivity killer. Better start later in the day, after we are done with your daily household tasks or other tasks, rather than switching from work to them throughout the day.
3. Monitor your social media/news consumption
I had shared with you in my previous emailer, how I thought news and social media can be a hotbed of anxiety and negativity.
While these media are essential to inform us, I have come to notice that there might be another source of anxiety which is triggered, more so in this period when we are looking for answers to our why, what, when and who.
At the beginning of the crisis we started receiving a few articles or videos to alert us. One month down the line, the number of resources available have grown exponentially and we cannot be expected to read everything that has been shared with us or to the groups to which we belong.
I realised I was spending too much time trying to sort out what to listen or read. I also realised that I was getting anxious about not being able to get to the bottom of all that had been shared with me and missing out something. I actually believe that WhatsApp did us a favour on 7th April when it started preventing sharing to more than 5 individuals in view of restricting fake news spreading. It now limits actions of “serial sharers” and preserves our sanity😊
I now chose to consult a newspaper online or watch news online, when I chose to get informed.
While our phone is a work tool, it can be a productivity killer as we get tempted to go onto social media whenever we have a notification. The best solution for me is to mute notifications with a buzzing only for calls. I then discipline myself not to check on social media whenever I am brought to take or make a call.
4. Pay attention to how you are feeling
“Listen to your heart”, “What a feeling”…. These are music relics from the 80’s but the words are reminders that, in times of turmoil more than ever, we have the right to have mixed feelings and changing states of mind.
I was always told that writing down thoughts and feelings was important because it clears the mind, readies it for decision-making and contributes to clarifying underlying emotions. I tried it and I will sometimes jot down my mind-set on scrap of paper. It really helps in clearing my mind and refocussing. Now might be the time to start a journal?
5. Connect with others and have fun when not working
Having a balanced life is important and is vital through confinement
Connection to our family, friends, a community, or our work team members is important for our wellbeing. I have been in contact with my management team for formal meetings at least once a week and then as required with individual colleagues. After each meeting, I felt good and could swear the others as well enjoyed the sharing and bonding.
The blurred lines between home and office, makes a teleconference business meeting something weird. It is like holding a business meeting in the intimacy of our home, more so when we switch on the video. I take it like welcoming colleagues at home and this is why I mentioned that I felt the bonding was enjoyable.
I invite those of you who have not yet experienced a virtual meal, coffee or drink to do so. As we are compelled to go virtual there is no more geographical barriers to a party/event. Let’s make social distancing (physically) create social uniting (virtually)!!
Productivity at work relies on our ability to switch off and enjoy the other moments.
Although outdoor activities are not possible, there can be substitutes worth exploring. I am amazed to see friends of mine having their Zumba session with their usual trainer or other continuing their fitness challenges online.
For those who are less the sports type, there is cooking, baking, gardening (I just started a small backyard garden and am thrilled about it), painting and of course reading.
Creative tasks take me away from the work, from the pandemic and allow me to cuddle up into my world for a few moments each day.
I hope that sharing some ideas and part of my life as a “confinée” will inspire you.
I know this is not easy and I wanted to thank you for the job you are doing against all odds. Those of you who work for home, please join me in thanking our colleagues who have been on the ground. Those of you who are on the ground, we are proud in counting you in our amazing Team.
I will continue to get regular updates from your team leaders until we can meet again.
Keep smiling and thank you for doing your part.
“Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory” (*)
(*) “Stay Calm and Carry On”, which is the origin of what is nowadays used as a decorative theme for a range of products, was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. There was another poster which was issued though not as widespread
“Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”. I trust it is very relevant since we are at war against a virus.
Chief Executive Officer