The protection measures required to combat the pandemic have made a difference to all our working lives. There is no getting away from that fact. Once the initial pressure to adapt and keep going passed, we all went through a period of adjustment to the new way of working. After a while, remote became at least semi-normal, and that meant we had the time to firefight the initial impact less and start to concentrate on the best working practices. Maintaining positive relationships when working remotely was clearly going to be part of the challenge we all faced. For some industry areas, finance springs to mind, for example, the roles were probably already quite well suited to remote working. For others, including cosmetic and beauty, it was perhaps a bit more of a change.
VARIETY OF PEOPLE
One of the absolute pleasures of being in recruitment for the cosmetics and beauty industry is the people we meet. There are probably few industries that can boast such a variety of people, and even fewer that hold the often ‘laugh out loud’ meetings we have. These are people who work in a marketplace that is all about pushing boundaries and making people feel good about themselves. It is an evolving, fast-moving, creative and above all vibrant sector. Not surprising then that the people within it are often gregarious, funny, occasionally flamboyant and always collaborative and focused on the now. Remote working then is probably a little more difficult for them to come to terms with. With that in mind, we thought it would be useful to share some of the methods of maintaining great relationships we have seen in the past few months.
FIVE GREAT WAYS OF MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS:
KEEPING IN TOUCH IS BETTER IF IT IS MORE THAN SAYING A QUICK HELLO.
Nothing generates a positive response more than feeling that the person you are talking to is interested and listening to you. Try building a few minutes extra into one-to-one meetings and spend some time asking about wellbeing and how people are coping. In a busy office where people have the opportunity for a chat in the kitchen over a cup of tea, there is a social element that is missing when working remotely. While you can’t recreate that over video, you can perhaps enquire how people are doing and focus a few minutes on personal wellbeing.
SET CORE HOURS THEN STICK TO THEM AND HELP MAINTAIN THEM.
Overworking is easy to do when the temptation of the laptop is right in front of you. When you are working remotely, it is even more tempting because there is the additional pressure of wanting to be seen to be working. Negotiated, clear goals, and the expectation that responses are unlikely out of hours, will help alleviate that pressure and may even result in better quality output.
INVEST IN MENTAL WELLBEING.
One of the few benefits of lockdown is that it has really shown the importance of an awareness of our own and others’ mental wellbeing. The lack of social interaction at work can be surprisingly damaging to our mood and can lead to negativity, and in the long-term, a potential spiral down to bigger issues. Many businesses are setting up support programmes ranging from small things such as paying for access to wellbeing apps to making a support line available to those who need it. A little can go a long way to change the mood of a team member. Negativity spreads, even remotely, and the isolation can quickly become a breeding ground for more negative thoughts.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN ATTITUDE FIRST.
It’s old advice but still true that the more you can generate a positive approach yourself, the more others will develop their own. As we are all becoming more aware of the way we deal with others and the need to keep our relationships constructive, we should also be also more aware of our own need for support. You don’t need to be a superhero all the time. Make sure you are looking after yourself first because it is the only way to look after others.
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF WORK?
OK, so you can’t have physical interaction, but could you have online options instead? How about a virtual ‘drink after work’ on a Friday evening for a couple of hours, or a perhaps a zoom lunchroom open between 12 and 2 every day. If you work in a team perhaps start an out of work WhatsApp group or similar (no managers allowed of course) or perhaps do a regular event like an escape room activity with a group of work friends. The social aspect of work is really important. We make friends, long-term working relationships, develop trusted colleagues and even find our partners at work, so when it comes to maintaining a positive relationship, social activities cannot be underestimated.
POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS LEAD TO JOB SATISFACTION
Purely from an efficiency point of view, positive relationships lead to job satisfaction and that, in turn, creates productivity and loyalty. On a personal level, we are all dealing with the same situation, so creating positive environments and relationships helps us maintain our mental and even our physical wellbeing. So, until we can all get back to chatting over a sandwich and having a laugh at the water cooler, we need to focus on getting as much of that positive approach as possible into our remote working.