What habits are you hardwiring each day? This blog series shares research-based ideas about habits worth your attention so you can be more effective. A year into the pandemic, those of us working from home are struggling. This is surprising, as professional ‘white collar’ employees have largely escaped the financial devastation common to small business and service professions. So why does it feel so bad? Why are we so tired, unmotivated, and emotionally flat?

‘Nearly 40% of managers in finance and professional services have considered leaving their jobs since the pandemic started.’ Morneau Shepell

Scientific research into human performance suggests our socially-wired brains continuously seek out informal, rewarding social experiences to manage our sense of personal threat. The more positive and collaborative our relationships, the lower our sense of threat, and the better we perform. The problem is, what was our daily rejuvenating time with people on our commute, over coffee, at lunch, or at the gym each day, has gone. Informal and spontaneous interactions with others in recreational settings has always been our essential cognitive and emotional ‘reboot’. It just took a global pandemic for us to realize it. Most of us haven’t ‘come home’ from work, for more than a year. And we’re exhausted.

As managers try to anticipate and plan for what ‘back to work’ will look like, two things are certain: 1. There is no going ‘back’; it will at least be a ‘hybrid’ model. 2. Those who have honed resilience and adaptability, who know how to manage their own psychological safety in this new world, and in doing so, can create that sense of safety for others, will be the highest performers coming out of this crisis.  These are the A-Players in the future of work.

On that premise then, how do we start to build an on-ramp into the future of work? It starts with assessing and then taking care of your own psychological safety needs, and only then can you optimize this high-engagement state for others. Try these foundational questions to reflect upon:

Status – What are the tasks, interactions, and experiences that make me feel valued, respected, competent, and appreciated?

Assurance – What are regular, reliable practices that I can count on, find comfort in, and use to create certainty and structure in my daily life?

Fairness – What work practices and circumstances feel unfair to me? What conversation do I need to have, to help make this issue feel right and more equitable?

Empathy – How connected do I feel to others? Who would I like to reach out to today? Where do I need to feel more of a sense of belonging?

Thinking – What are my daily opportunities to be heard? How well do I speak up to my leader and with peers? How motivated am I to influence and share my ideas?

Your mindset – Where am I fixed in my beliefs about myself and others’ skills and potential? In what aspects of my professional and personal life, would a growth mindset help me expand my skills and thrive?

Leaders can learn how to reskill and create psychological safety each day. In our next blog we will look at how to hardwire skills to help you, and others think better.