Photo by Guillaume Bourdages on Unsplash by Dr. Donna Roberts Source: Going “Back Home” — Looking Back and Moving Forward THE STORY I was 40-something. I walked across the threshold of the house I grew up in. It was . . . From the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, […]
The evidence is ample now that working from home is a big productivity boost. The biggest downside–isolation and loneliness–is manageable and employers are rapidly at least experimenting with a mix of remote and in-office time.
In 2017, 43 percent of Americans were working at least partially remotely. (And no, critics and paranoids, they weren’t remotely working–they were working remotely.) Gallup research indicates that the option of working from home is now a major determinant of whether or not an employee will take a job.
I’ve been working from home for 18 months, having left my corporate job for entrepreneurship, so I’ve got something to share–from experience, research, and interviews with others who do this successfully. Here are the seven keys to success:
1. Start from a place of gratitude.
It might surprise you that I’m starting here: I believe that the ability to work from home is a gift. Your employer doesn’t have to grant it–even if the option is no longer optional for companies wanting to remain competitive.
The flexibility associated with working from home is intoxicating and you should be thankful for it. Fully taking advantage of that flexibility–to fit in exercise or pick up your kids from school–while remaining thankful means doing everything you can to make it work for everyone involved.
When you start feeling entitled to this privilege, you start resenting the time you must be in the office. That’s poisonous.
2. Take full advantage of “found time.”
Working from home offers the obvious huge benefit of saving commuting time, meeting time, interruption time, and unproductive, randomly spent time. So have a plan to use this found time to the maximum.
Monday through Thursday is for creating or delivering things that directly generate revenue. Friday is for maintenance work like phone calls, billing, follow-ups, and so on.
3. Take full advantage of “focus time.”
Much of the massive productivity gain from working at home comes not just from found time but from the quality of that time. The key is to take advantage of your natural work rhythms to capitalize on the bank of uninterrupted time you’ll now have.
For example, my best thinking happens early morning. After breakfast, I dive into my hardest tasks requiring maximum thought.
I use the Pomodoro technique. I set a timer for long stretches of “cranking time” followed by five-minute breaks. Research from the US Army and the Federal Aviation Administration supports this approach with the FAA reporting dramatic improvement in pilot focus (kind of important).
4. Set boundaries.
Just like you should leave what happens at the office at the office, so should you separate your home office from your home. Otherwise, the lines blur, work hours creep up, and balance gets out of whack.
5. Tie a tether to HQ.
Working from home doesn’t mean out of sight or out of mind. Ensure clear rules are established that define the scope and expectations of working from home.
Check-ins with the boss might be required on certain things. At a minimum check in to let your boss know/see how well working from home is working.
The idea isn’t to bastardize the powerful autonomy and trust inherent in working from home. It’s to put simple checks in place that make everyone involved feel comfortable.
6. Ditch the guilt.
You might feel guilty working from home, or worry that you’re not valued as highly as your coworkers in the office. Simply put, don’t question your worth.
Soon, all the most valued employees will be the ones who can work most effectively remotely. And you can stay top of mind for others by, for example, being the first person in their inbox in the morning (prioritizing responses to their email requests).
7. Find connection points.
Intentionally dedicate 10 percent of your work time to human connection. Schedule periodic lunches with co-workers, face-to-face client meetings, and community involvement. If you can rope other people into your plans, do it every time.
The net is that working from home can really work with the right approach.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash Source: The Psychology of Stories -Media Psychology – Donna L Roberts, PhD (Psych Pstuff) – Medium by Donna L. Roberts The Story Did you have a favorite bedtime story as a child? I loved the fairy tale Snow White. My mother, on the other hand, was not so thrilled about […]
When millennial employees feel supported by their boss, their happiness on the job soars — and so does company success.
Employers seek loyalty and dedication from their employees but sometimes fail to return their half of the equation, leaving millennial workers feeling left behind and unsupported. Professional relationships are built on trust and commitment, and working for a boss that supports you is vital to professional and company success.
Employees who believe their company cares for them perform better. What value does an employer place on you as an employee? Are you there to get the job done and go home? Are you paid fairly, well-trained and confident in your job security? Do you work under good job conditions? Do you receive constructive feedback, or do you feel demeaned or invisible?
When millennial employees feel supported by their boss, their happiness on the job soars — and so does company success. Building a healthy relationship involves the efforts of both parties — boss and employee — and the result not only improves company success, but also the quality of policies, feedback and work culture.
Investing In A Relationship With Your Boss
When you’re first hired, you should get to know your company’s culture and closely watch your boss as you learn the ropes. It’s best to clarify any questions you have instead of going rogue on a project and ending up with a failed proposal for a valuable client.
Regardless of your boss’s communication style, speaking up on timely matters before consequences are out of your control builds trust and establishes healthy communication. Getting to know your boss begins with knowing how they move through the business day, including their moods, how they prefer to communicate and their style of leadership:
- Mood: Perhaps your boss needs their cup of coffee to start the day. If you see other employees scurry away before the boss drains that cup of coffee, bide your time, too.
- Communication: The boss’s communication style is also influenced by their mood. Don’t wait too late to break important news. In-depth topics may be scheduled for a meeting through a phone call or email to check in and show you respect your boss’s time. In return, your time will be respected, too.
Some professionals are more emotionally reinforcing that others. Some might appear cold, but in reality, prefer to use hard data to solidify the endpoint as an analytical style. If you’re more focused on interpersonal relationships, that’s your strength, but you must also learn and respect your boss’s communication style.
- Leadership: What kind of leader is the boss? Various communication styles best fit an organization depending on its goals and culture, but provide both advantages and disadvantages. Autocratic leaders assume total authority on decision-making without input or challenge from others. Participative leaders value the democratic input of team members, but final decisions remain with the boss.
Autocratic leaders may be best equipped to handle emergency decisions over participative leaders, depending on the situation and information received.
While the boss wields a position of power over employees, it’s important that leaders don’t hold that over their employees’ heads. In the case of dissatisfaction at work, millennial employees don’t carry the sole blame. Respect is mutually earned, and ultimately a healthy relationship between leaders and employees betters the company and the budding careers of millennials.
A Healthy Relationship With Leaders Betters The Company
A Gallup report reveals that millennial career happiness is down while disengagement at work climbs — 71% of millennials aren’t engaged on the joband half of all employed plan on leaving within a year. What is the cause? Bosses carry the responsibility for 70% of employee engagement variances. Meanwhile, engaged bosses are 59% more prone to having and retaining engaged employees.
The supportive behaviors of these managers to engage their employees included being accessible for discussion, motivating by strengths over weaknesses and helping to set goals. According to the Gallup report, the primary determiner of employee retention and engagement are those in leadership positions. The boss is poised to affect employee happiness, satisfaction, productivity and performance directly.
The same report reveals that only 21% of millennial employees meet weekly with their boss and 17% receive meaningful feedback. The most positive engagement booster was in managers who focused on employee strengths. In the end, one out of every two employees will leave a job to get away from their boss when unsupported.
Millennials are taking the workforce by storm — one-third of those employed are millennials, and soon those numbers will take the lead. Millennials are important to companies as technology continues to shift and grow, and they are passionate about offering their talents to their employers. It’s vital that millennials have access to bosses who offer support and engage their staff through meaningful feedback, accessibility and help with goal-setting.
In return, millennial happiness and job satisfaction soar, positively impacting productivity, performance, policy and work culture. A healthy relationship between boss and employee is vital to company success and the growth of millennial careers as the workforce continues to age. Bosses shouldn’t be the reason that millennial employees leave. They should be the reason millennials stay and thrive in the workplace, pushing it toward greater success.
I write about how millennials can be happier at work.
I am a digital marketing specialist, freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career advice blog that focuses on happiness and creating a career you love. I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2014 with majors in Marketing and Economics and a focus in psychology. After graduating, I began my career and started writing on the side after studying the psychology of happiness.
by Dr. Donna Roberts Photo by Benedikt Geyer on Unsplash Source: Does “Closure” really bring the relief we seek? – Donna L Roberts, PhD (Psych Pstuff) – Medium The Story Carmela enters … “Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.” Cut to Tony … “Just a city […]
by Dr. Donna Roberts Source: If at First You Don’t “Succeed” . . . Fail, Fail, Again The Story I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in […]
Newly landed in Italy, we gorged ourselves on everything Italian. The sights, sounds and food were all to die for. Pizza, pasta and peperonata became our daily fare. Even the local cats and dogs could be seen enjoying huge bowls of spaghetti. The country, the weather and the food were all delicious. Not to speak of the wonderful wine … but I digress.
Soon after arriving, we decided to explore the sites and do a little shopping. We were in one of the world’s fashion capitals after all — what could possibly go wrong? My spouse needed some lighter, brighter shirts to replace the heavy, checkered lumberjack style he’d favored in Canada. The latest fashionable color at the time in Italy was melone, a lobster shade we both adored.
So, one evening, after yet another delectable meal, we strolled into a village clothing store to admire the venerable selection. Each shirt was displayed in its own beautiful box, cushioned in a cloud of designer tissue paper. Too pretty to touch, really. The salesperson lovingly unwrapped each shirt and artfully displayed the array on the counter in front of us. One by one, she laid out a series of progressively beautiful (and increasingly expensive) melon colored shirts. Finally, sensing that we were hooked, she told us that a most exquisite shirt had just come in, but in a different color — salmone.
Out came the ultimate shirt and it did not leave us wanting. The fabric, the stitching, the cut — it was all intoxicating, as only Italian fashion can be. But the salmon color of the shirt? Well, it was identical to the melon colored shirts. Precisely the same! The price, however, was considerably higher.
No one spoke of this out loud. Yet each of us knew that, to justify the exorbitant price, the salesperson had changed the name to a more chic sounding version of the hue.
Naturally, we were tickled pink to leave with the chic salmon shirt in our designer shopping bag. Was there ever any doubt?
Psych Pstuff’s Summary
Learning to speak and use language is one of the major milestones of childhood. From that time on we are honing the skill — learning how to use words effectively to get our needs met and make our thoughts and feelings known. Written or spoken it is the instrument we use for human connection.
In “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare challenged us with the question:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.
But was Shakespeare right? Is a name just a name? Or is it more?
Turns out it is a whole lot more.
Words have both denotative and connotative meanings. The denotative meaning is the straightforward definition, what you would consider the dictionary definition. It’s clear, logical, factual and therefore doesn’t have much impact beyond basic understanding of information.
Connotative meanings are more open to individual interpretation. They encompass all the associations and emotions that are conjured up by a word. They can be complex and even paradoxical. While the denotative meaning of a word is generally the same for all, the connotative meanings can vary widely based on experience, personality and context.
The word home is a good example of how these categorizations can differ in impact. Denotatively, home is simply a place of residence, a structure for shelter. It is the connotative meaning that embraces all the things that home means to us — whether good or bad.
Some words, by nature tend to be fairly innocuous — jelly, wood, cup — although even these, if tied to a strong enough memory, can be impactful for some. Others — war, mother, dog — inherently seem to carry a weight far beyond their syntax.
Through denotative meanings we can share information. Through connotative meanings we can share the full realm of human experience.
Through denotative meanings we can share information. Through connotative meanings we can share the full realm of human experience.
Advertisers, for example, count on this distinction and use it to attempt to persuade consumers to behave in certain ways — namely to buy a particular product usually on merits beyond its denotative purpose. They either use existing universal connotations to attach to a product or brand or they create scenarios which establish new connections and ingrain new connotations.
Just think of these two words — Fiat and Mercedes. On the surface both are just brands of automobiles, which are themselves just means of transportation. However, one generally has significantly different feelings about them. If I asked you which one you would rather have parked in your driveway, you would probably have a clear preference.
Authors too use the connotative power of words to connect people, to broaden our minds to the experiences of others — real or imagined — who are both like us and unlike us, to both relate to our common experience and to share a glimpse of that which may be a wholly different experience.
So, the question remains, is there a difference between a melone shirt and a salmone one? The choice is yours — the meaning is in the mind of the beholder.