Our working world was upended last year, leaving a lot of us wondering how to proceed. Working from home can be a dream, until it’s a nightmare, and the majority of us turned into teachers and caregivers alongside our full time careers. If we learned anything, it’s that we can adapt quickly and make it all work – but things are going to look a lot different.
Now that we are fully into 2021, here are five things you should say no to in order to move your business forward in our new working landscape.
1. Stop Working In A Silo
I used to work for an innovation consultancy in San Diego called Bulldog Drummond. Even though the Account Managers had separate clients, we’d work in small teams so that nothing was missed and projects were seamless. In all projects, we used email to communicate and also as a record keeper. In every email communication, we would copy all team members. In addition, we had team meetings where we updated one another on the happenings of our clients.
While it seems like it created more work, it actually created buoyancy. If one of our team members was out on vacation or sick, the rest of the team need only search through a couple of emails and pick up the project easily – even if they weren’t part of the project before that. This is especially important for 2021 as we are still navigating the pandemic. If you or someone on your team happens to contract COVID-19, your project won’t sink if you use your team members as buoys.
2. Stop The Busyness
There are no extra points for filling up every moment with busy work. Focus your time and energy on creating efficiency – better yet, reward your team members when they create something so efficient that have free time on their hands. Creativity is created in the space between, not during pointless busy tasks. Use software to help you bear the load of repetitive tasks, schedulers to post on social for you, a VA to manage your schedule, etc. Your team should know that becoming more efficient and having time on their hands is something to be celebrated. Maybe you can even go down to a four day work week with all of that streamlining!
3. Stop Being Chained To Email
Unsolicited emails are not your responsibility, you don’t have to respond to each and every one. The guilt and responsibility of all of these messages can be overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety—so feel free to let it go. If you simply can’t, then hire a VA to digest your emails everyday. Give your responses and have your VA respond for you. Reclaim hours of your time by dealing with unsolicited emails.
MORE FOR YOU
If you are working from home, and so is your family, you’ll want and need those hours back. I know a lot of couples who alternate on conference calls, or setting the kids up with their video classrooms. When you are business owner, teacher and caregiver all at once, you must free yourself from time sucks like email.
4. Stop The Video Chats
Prior to 2020, using video chat was a ‘nice to have’ for all distributed teams. Now, it’s essential to getting work and school done. But there is a reason a new term is in our vernacular: Zoom Fatigue. After a full day of it, it gets draining.
Kids, parents and working professionals alike are pretty worn out by the video chats. For the majority of us working from home, with kids and spouses also doing their work from home – getting on a video chat with no makeup and a messy kitchen behind us is not ideal. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken calls in the car, or the closet—just to get a moments peace to have a conversation. And having a video chat in the hall closet isn’t always ideal. Let’s let each other off the hook right now and have a simple phone call when you don’t feel like brushing your hair after pulling an all nighter with your sick toddler.
5. Stop Apologizing For A Noisy Space
Working in a noisy space is just reality these days, I think we can all agree to let it go. Kids screaming, dogs barking, laundry machines beeping—it’s just life right now. If you’re getting your work done, colleagues will just have to accept it and you’ll have to do the same for them. A lot of people don’t have home offices and are scrambling to find spaces to work, so stop apologizing if you are in a noisy space and give others grace when their space isn’t quiet either.
Working remotely over the past year has affected our “business as usual” in such a profound way that we may never go back. We’ll have to work on defining our new way of working, developing new ways to work together and giving each other a bit more flexibility as we move through 2021—starting with what we’ll stop doing.