Make Working from Home Work for You

Make Working from Home Work for You

Working from home can feel unsettling even at the best of times. But as someone who has embraced working away from the office since the turn of the last century (how long ago that feels now!), I can tell you it’s also a tremendous privilege, and one that can make us all better professionals – and maybe even better people.

That’s because change creates opportunity. Working remotely, especially for the first time, can of course present a steep learning curve in our professional lives. Yet those who seize this re-boot to old ways of working to test-drive new avenues for personal and professional growth will ultimately emerge stronger.

Times may be tough. But life can be especially hard when we are functioning below our true potential. We’ve all seen it happen: people burning out or sinking into an all too comfortable mid-career rut. In my experience, this can soon present a snowball effect, as it’s often much harder to get going than to keep going. And once you stop learning or growing, both you and your employer suffer.

So, if a lack of momentum is the hidden ailment of professionals and organisations alike, how do you keep driving yourself forward while working from home? The answer involves moving from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset”, and using the moment of change as the trigger to kick-start the process of personal growth.

These ideas stem from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck about how the beliefs we carry about ourselves shape our behaviour. With a fixed mindset, we assume we cannot change our character and abilities in a meaningful way. A growth mindset, on the other hand, welcomes challenge, viewing failure as nothing more than an opportunity to stretch our existing abilities.

Our mindset can play a larger role than we might expect. As studies have shown how these two mindsets heavily influence our everyday behaviour, our capacity for happiness, and even the success or failure we achieve in our professional or personal lives, the benefit of adopting a growth mindset becomes clear.

For me, the secret lies in setting myself a challenge I know I can achieve. Gyms may be closed, but I can swap my daily commute for 30 minutes on the rowing machine. And while I can’t presently play with my volleyball team, we can still work as a team; donating food parcels locally once a week still allows us to make a difference together. In fact, personal growth often starts with giving back to your community.

Stepping outside our comfort zone at work may start as small as switching to cloud technology instead of manually storing files, but the learning that comes from the act of embracing new ways in itself can lead to deeper personal growth and lasting satisfaction. I, myself, have been surprised to find that (socially distant) business messaging platforms are capable of driving even better communication between teams, keeping us all approachable and accessible, wherever we are in the world.

As a veteran of adapting to working outside the office, whether that’s from home or from the 30 countries I typically visit on business each year, I can attest that new ways of working can always create better ways of working – you just have to find them. Good luck!