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The Big Deal About Small Talk

If you’re working from home, you may be as productive as ever. You can focus without interruption. There are no long chats around the water cooler. There’s no wasted time commuting. You can wake up and get straight to work. There’s a good chance you may be skipping breaks and lunch. You’ve started to find your work from home groove.

But, one thing we’re definitely doing less of at work is small talk. When is the last time you asked about a colleague’s weekend? How are their children doing? How is the pandemic impacting them from day to day? When is the last time you had lunch with someone you work with? If you’re like millions of Americans, it’s been a while. It may have even been since early March.

On the surface, this is no big deal. You’re saving time. You’re more efficient. And, work is about work. Right? Sure, to some degree this is true. But, work is also about relationships. In fact, very often, your project may get done on time if you have a good relationship with your colleagues.

And, the thing is, relationships don’t form out of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations alone. They are formed when we spend time together. They’re formed between meetings. They’re those small moments when we exchange pleasant words that are unrelated to work. Relationships form over sandwiches and coffee.

If you’re struggling at work more now than you were before COVID, it may be time to rethink your day to day interactions. The same social distancing that’s keeping us safe from disease is also dividing us. We’re more disconnected than we were in the past, especially when working from home is new.

What can you do? Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution. But, there are many ideas you can try. You may want to take the time to call colleagues when you don’t need something specific. Or, take a moment in the beginning of meetings to ask how folks are doing. Consider setting up virtual social occasions. You might organize a coffee or a virtual happy hour with a colleague. You could consider organizing a book club or a virtual exercise group. Although some of these things may sound silly, they’re also a way to create connection and build your relationships.

As you’re working to create this connection, there is something to keep in mind. First, everyone is having a tough time in some way, on some days. Every person is in a unique situation, so it’s hard to predict when they’re having a tough time. When your coworker is having a difficult day, it will be harder to tell than when you are in person. Try your best to be patient.

It’s all a little weird right now. But, we may be working from home for a while. It’s time to find new and different ways to make small talk and to build big relationships.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

A Case for WFH

The letters WFH used to be mainly used by the tech industry. But, as work from home is becoming more common, so is the use of this important acronym. In the last six months, working from home has gone from an exception to a norm. But, if you’re like many employees, your company may be asking you to come back to work in person.

For many of the folks I have spoken to, returning to an in person work environment just doesn’t work right now. So, what can you do when your boss asks you to come back?

It’s tricky. Start by being honest. If you have a preexisting condition that makes you high risk for COVID complications, you may want to consider sharing it. Normally, I would never advise to share private health details with your boss. But, it may help them to understand why you need to continue to work from home.

The same applies for family situations. If you have aging parents who you help to care for, share your concerns. If you are being forced to home school your children, be up front about it. And, if your spouse has a high risk job where they work with the public, share your concerns about possibly infecting your office if you were to become infected.

These are all good reasons to keep working from home – especially if you’ve been doing it since March. Your boss’ biggest concern should be whether or not you’re getting your job done. When you approach them with this request, focus on your ability to do your work.

Outline the hours you plan to keep each day. Since your boss cannot see you, it may help to know you’re keep regular office hours from home. Set expectations around how you will communicate. If you plan to check email during certain hours, let them know. If you’ve available to video chat during meetings, share that. And, if you are available by text, say that too. The more your boss feels they can count on you, the more likely they will be to allow you to continue to work from home.

If you’re interviewing for a new job, this is something you’ll likely want to discuss at some point during the interview process. Given that this could be a point of negotiation for you, you may want to save it until you reach the offer stage of the job interview. You may be surprised though at just how many companies are willing to be flexible with work from home now. And, some companies that require you to move to their city are allowing you to delay the move until after COVID is finished.

If you believe you need to work from home for any reason, it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. It doesn’t mean your boss will agree. But, if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get it.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Back to Work

One of the hot topics around the virtual water cooler is when we’re going back to work. Some states are beginning to open up, while others continue to be locked down for what may be months. Recently, this question was posed to me. When should we all return to the office?

Before I share my thoughts, let me say this. There are many jobs where the luxury of working from home is not an option. There are so many people who are putting their lives on the line every day in order to keep us fed, to keep the mail going, and more. I’m so grateful for those essential workers and their families.

For companies that have been operating from home, you may wonder when is the right time to go back. It’s a tough question. We’re all ready for things to get back to “normal.” We’re ready forget this pandemic ever happened.

Working from home for the first time was a major transition. It was an upheaval for many businesses. We had to learn how to video conference in large groups. We had to learn to pay bills remotely. We had to learn to keep things going, while juggling children, pets, and spouses.

But, this is the thing. We did it. If your business is now fully functional remotely, you made it over the hump. You are likely in a routine now. Despite how much many people hate being at home all day, they’re adjusting.

My suggestion is this. If your business is able to successfully operate from home, continue to work from home until it’s truly safe to return to work. And, wait until the kids have gone back to school (or daycare).

Going back too soon has the potential to create two negative scenarios. In one, only half of employees are able to come back. The other half are at home, tending to young children – or avoiding infection. Imagine how your Zoom conference calls would be if half of the group were at work, while the other half was at the office. Imagine if you were never sure who was working from home and who was working remotely.

In an even worse scenario, we would all make the transition back to the office. Then, there would be a case of COVID-19 at work. It would infect someone who would pass it around the office. Then, we’d all be forced back home again.

By waiting to go back until we’re really sure it’s safe (and until other businesses, like childcare are up and running), we’ll keep the number of difficult transitions to a minimum. We’ll make sure we’re all healthy. Nobody will have to put their family in danger by going to work. No one will have to pick between their paycheck and their health.

And who knows, in the middle of this difficult time, we may learn to be better at business.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Zoom Meetings and Sweatpants

A month ago, work seemed stressful for all the normal reasons. Perhaps your boss had unrealistic expectations. You were making less than you wanted. Your coworkers were annoying.

Now, work is stressful for a new set of reasons. You’re worried about losing your job. You’re working from home for the first time. Your business model is shifting due to “The Virus.”

Who would have thought we’d all be learning to work through a pandemic? Who thought there would be a pandemic? This is the last thing I thought I would be thinking about when it comes to work. But, here we are.

For most people, the isolation of the pandemic (paired up with fear of the unknown) has been the hardest. So, what can you do to stay engaged at work when you’re isolated?

The first thing is this. Set a schedule and work to keep it. Get up at the same time every day. Start working at the same time. Stop working at the same time. And, go to bed at the same time. I know that it’s tempting to your schedule go. After all, for the first time in a long time, your boss isn’t there to breathe down your neck. But, you have to do this for you, not your boss. Keeping a normal routine will help to keep your head in check.

Take breaks throughout the day. I’ve found that with the number of Zoom meetings we’re all having, we can go almost an entire day without getting up from our chairs. Take the time to have lunch. If you can, get up at least once every hour to move around.

Try to keep tabs on whether or not your current communication style is working for your colleagues. Communication is key to success at work. With the changes we’ve had, there is no more walking down the hallway to check on people. Watercooler conversations just aren’t possible. Now, we’re sending email, instant messages, texts, and having video chats and phone calls. Not every type of communication works well for everyone. Check in with your colleagues to see what works for them.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Whatever it is that you need to do to be sure you’re mentally and physically healthy as you can be, focus on it. Don’t allow yourself to get run down or drained more than necessary. One of the hardest parts about self-isolation is keeping your mental health in check. Don’t take it for granted. It will impact you, your spouse, your children, and other loved ones. And, it’s easy to neglect. Be sure you’re eating three meals a day. Do simple things like shower and comb your hair.

Hopefully soon, we can look back and remember that crazy time when we were all isolated. But, until then, you’ve got to get up every day, put on your sweatpants, and attend your Zoom meetings.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Working from Home

Working from home always sounded like a dream. It was this amazing concept that you heard about on TV that people in California did. You always wished you could try for a few days a week.

I guess this is what they mean when they say, “be careful what you wish for.” Here we are working from home, playing from home, schooling from home, and everything else-ing from home. At least there’s no commute. But, working from home isn’t as great when it’s not a choice.

But, let’s try to make the best of it. We may be here for a while. So, what can you do to effectively work at home?

For starters, find a space that you can designate for work. If you’re lucky, you may have an office or an extra bedroom. Or, you may want to designate a space like your dining room table. If you have a house with a garage, you may even want to temporarily turn your garage into an office. This is the time to get creative.

Once you’ve found your space, set it up. At a minimum, you’ll likely need a table, a desk, and your computer. If you have them, a printer and an external monitor can also be very helpful. Keep your office supplies nearby, including paper, pens, headphones, and anything else you may need. Take the time to set up your new home office in a way that is enjoyable to you. You will be spending a lot of time there.

After you setup your home office, it’s time to use it. Start out by creating a schedule for yourself. One of the most important components to successfully working from home is routine. Try to start working at the same time every day. Set aside time to eat lunch, and possibly for breaks. And, finish at a reasonable time. Try not to spend every waking hour sitting and working, as this could lead to burnout.

Look for ways to stay connected to colleagues. One of our biggest hurdles when working from home is how to stay relevant at work without being too much. In other words, without sending too many emails or making too many phone calls. Over time, work to develop a routine. Try to stay in touch with coworkers and management without wasting time, but while still creating a human connection.

Don’t forget to ask how people are really doing. When you open up, you’ll learn that your coworkers are just as stressed and as afraid as you are. They’re also trying to figure out how to keep their spouse, pets, and kids out of their workspace. They’re also worried about their parents. They’re also running low on toilet paper.

Working from home is an adjustment, even under normal circumstances. Virtual companies share that it takes months for working from home to become normal and routine. You’re in good company.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Landing a Work From Home Job

Finding a work-from-home (or remote job) can seem to be an impossible proposition. It’s like finding a unicorn. You’ve heard they exist, but you’ve never actually seen one.

Many people ask about finding jobs you can do from home. Whether you have children, would like freedom to relocate, or just prefer peace and quiet, working from home sounds ideal.

Many companies that create virtual positions or departments often do so for financial reasons. It may be cheaper to allow employees to work remotely. If a job requires travel, it might not make sense to force the employee to live in the same city as the corporation. In other cases, allowing a remote assignment increases the chances a company will have access to the best employees.

The Survey of Income and Program Participation reported a 45 percent increase in employees working from home at least one day per week between 1997 and 2010. It appears that a large portion of those people are self-employed. If you want to work from home but don’t want to start your own business, where should you begin?

The first thing to remember is to proceed with caution. There are a startling number of remote jobs available online that are, simply put, scams. And, unfortunately, a number of legitimate remote opportunities are not listed as such online. Often, it’s not until you’re in the interview that you learn the hiring manager is open to you working from home.

The types of jobs where remote working is possible are often technology-dependent. Their heavy reliance on computers and the internet are what makes working from anywhere possible. The types of jobs you may find are web developer, virtual assistant and technology support. In order to see what’s out there, search Indeed.com for “work from home” or “remote” rather than by city name.

After you’ve found what appears to be a great opportunity, take the time to do your research. In fact, research it more than you would an in person role. Get all of your questions answered. A work-from-home job has the potential (at least initially) to go awry more quickly than when you work from an office. You aren’t able to form the same bonds as quickly when you aren’t together in person.

Here are a few questions to consider. Why is the role remote? Will you be the only remote person, or is the entire team working from home? What technology (such as a laptop, cellphone and Internet) does the company provide, and what are you expected to provide? It’s also important to meet other team members. Are they committed to their work, or are they using the work-from-home option as an excuse? Do the current employees feel the work remote environment is working for the company?

In the end, finding the perfect work-from-home job is a lot of work, so be sure the one you select is worth your time.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach