Are you a rule breaker, or a rule follower? There’s certainly a time and place for everything, but right here, right now – when everything seems like it’s been turned upside down and inside out – maybe it’s time to break a few rules.
As Mary Engelbreit famously said, “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” That’s exactly what many of the business leaders, corporate executives and entrepreneurs that I work with are doing – understanding the value of change, and realizing how a new perspective can make all the difference.
Change the Scenery
In May when the realization of just how impactful COVID-19 was going to be on our lives as we knew it, one of my clients did something extraordinary. He rented an RV, and took off on an adventure. He’s been on the road for weeks, traveling the country and working from … wherever. Unconventional? Definitely. Risky? Before 2020, I probably would have said yes . But now, I say … why not? Of course that wouldn’t work for just anyone, but I was impressed that he found a way to embrace adventure and change his circumstances in a creative way.
Shift Your Perspective
Just four months ago, another client told me, “There’s no way my company will survive with remote working. It’s going to kill us.” Granted, he was one of the first to adapt a remote working strategy, and has always been ahead of the curve. But at the time, he was a firm believer that employees wouldn’t work if he wasn’t personally there to see it.
Today, that same executive says the earliest he’ll go back to a brick and mortar business model is 2021. He reallocated funds to help employees set up their workspaces at home with the right tools, technology and equipment, and his teams are now more productive than ever. He’s also discovered remote working advantages, like being able to recruit employees from all over the world, and having the ability to work from anywhere at any time. He’s even rethinking structured vacation policies, reflecting what many tech companies in Silicon Valley already do.
Have Some Fun
My clients aren’t the only ones shaking it up a bit. Before the pandemic, my typical day was very structured, with a precise morning routine starting at 6 a.m., an often supercharged work day spent driving from one place to another for meetings, and then many evenings on my laptop – finishing up emails, and scheduling and prepping for more meetings.
These days, I’m enjoying a different pace. I wake up a little later for my exercise and morning routine, and all those hours I used to spend driving in between meetings are now opportunities to be more productive during the day. As a result, I’m able to be more creative with my evenings.
For example, I’ve been teaching weekly yoga sessions outside with neighbors, cooking more meals, and free-wheeling a bit with my social time (while also social distancing, of course). In fact, on a recent Saturday, I sat outside on my deck, just enjoying the outdoors and day-drinking with my partner. Yes, day-drinking (this is something I normally only do on vacation)!
In addition, while I usually go to a family cabin in Maine one week each fall, this year I’m staying for two whole weeks. I found a coworking space in town I can rent for training sessions, so I’m doing business as usual but from a completely different location. It was a terrific feeling when I realized it was a possibility – my brain was so used to the structure of getting back home and getting back to business.
Crumple Up Those Rules
More often than not, I’m seeing corporate leaders crumpling up the rules of working these days and tossing them out the window. Here are a few more examples:
- While I’ve always conducted meetings in outdoor locations, there’s a noticeable increase in such requests from executives and teams – face-to-face but socially distanced.
- A woman I know who works for a large and very successful company recently told me that employees were given a stipend to properly set up home work spaces. She was able to get a treadmill adaptor for her stand-up desk, and have all the tools she needs to continue productivity.
- Another business owner and client of mine has decided not to renew his office lease, and go exclusively virtual. Money saved on rent is going to employees, to ensure they have everything needed to be successful.
How Are You Breaking Rules?
I realize not everyone can go travel the world or permanently go virtual. But there are lots of other small ways workers can change it up, like:
- repurpose rooms
- create new work stations in unused parts of the home
- restructure work hours
- intentionally schedule regular social gatherings with colleagues to maintain connections
What about you? We’d love to hear about your own ideas or personal experiences – please leave your comments below.