Author: LMJA Blog

The Challenges of Reentry

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, what did you think of when you heard the word “reentry”? Perhaps a space shuttle returning to the Earth’s atmosphere came to mind. These days, “reentry” means something different. It’s all about bringing workers back into the office in an effective and safe manner. After the challenges we’ve faced over the last year and the lifestyle changes that workers have become accustomed to (and many are enjoying!), the issue of getting employees back in the workplace can be complicated and stressful.

Last month, we looked at why many workers are hesitant to return to workplace life post-pandemic and we also outlined steps employees can take to ease their “reentry anxiety”. But what can employers do to ease workers’ fears and hesitations, particularly in a tight labor market? With some planning and patience, there are a number of ways employers can make the back-to-office transition easier on everyone. Here are several suggestions:

  • Ask workers what they want and need to feel safe and listen carefully to the answers.
  • Work with employees who want to explore a hybrid working model and continue working from home in some capacity.
  • Examine ways to support employees’ needs issues, such as safe commuting and childcare.
  • Encourage and support managers to look for signs that workers need more support or different options to feel safe and productive.
  • Set up an employee advisory board to keep an eye on how people are doing once they’re back in the office.
  • Modify physical workspaces as needed to create more space between employees. Also, look for ways to boost collaboration between in-office and virtual workers.
  • Redesign office common areas to create a healthy environment.
  • Amend workspace policies and procedures (ie – implement staggered arrival and departure times for employees to reduce congestion in elevators, enforce new cleaning protocols for the office, make sure hand sanitizers and soap dispensers are kept full and accessible)

While we keep talking about “getting back to normal”, the workplace as we know it will probably never be the same in a post-COVID world. Moving forward, it’s vital to invest in the health of your employees and the future health of your business. Leah M Joppy and Associates can help with ways to transition your team members back to the office and make the process smoother and less stressful for everyone. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

 

Anxieties in a Post-Pandemic World

In a post-pandemic world, does the following situation sounds familiar? Let’s say you’re fully vaccinated and so is your closest friend. Your community has low COVID numbers. Your friend invites you to dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Although you haven’t seen her in person in over a year and should feel excited, you just feel anxious and stressed. Your mind starts down a path of “what ifs”. You decide to decline your friend’s invitation and instantly feel better staying in the protection of your own home.

If this situation hits a chord, you’re probably experiencing some COVID “reentry anxiety”, aka anxiety about returning to your typical daily activities post-pandemic. We just spent the last year living in fear of doing things that could put us or our loved ones at risk of getting COVID-19. The length of time we lived through these changes, combined with fear, means it won’t be easy to just pivot and go back to “business as usual”. Here are a few ways you might be experiencing reentry anxiety after COVID quarantine:

  • Being unable to enjoy yourself while you’re in public places because you’re focused on your fears.
  • Avoiding invitations to do things you used to enjoy with friends and family.
  • Feeling like socializing isn’t worth it when you feel so much anxiety when you go out.
  • Experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic, such as nausea and sweating, feeling short of breath, jittery or lightheaded

There are a number of options to help with your feelings of anxiety, such as: maintaining a lower daily stress level through exercise and meditation; connecting with one or two people in a quieter, more remote location; or exposing yourself incrementally to your fears and advancing to the next level of exposure once you experience improvement. Most of all, be kind and patient with yourself (keep moving in baby steps!) and don’t be afraid to seek outside help if you feel like your anxiety is getting worse.

There are so many reasons why people are dealing with reentry anxiety and everyone is acclimating to a return to normal life and activities differently. It’s going to take some time to undo the feelings of fear we’ve been experiencing. If you’ve been reevaluating your priorities over the past year and would like to work with a coach that can help you move forward, Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to the Office

For many people, the silver lining to the pandemic has been the ability to take a step back from the stresses of everyday life, stop commuting and work from home. As the economy is revving back into gear and staff is being asked to come back into the workplace, re-entry anxiety is a very real issue. While some are ready to get back, many are hoping to continue these new routines and are dreading the return to an office environment. A recent survey of professionals by staffing firm Robert Half really paints a picture: they found one in three professionals currently working from home would quit and look for a new job if required to go back to the office full time.

Not all of us have the option of continuing to work from home full time. So, what can you do if you’re about to return to the office and are experiencing anxiety? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Talk to your employer about whether you can work from home part time: The past year taught many employers that working from home in some capacity is possible and brought out the best in many workers. The hybrid work model is increasingly popular and many employers are embracing the concept to increase worker morale and reduce turnover.
  • Do a few trial runs and visit the workplace without having to work: The anticipation of “what’s going to happen” is often worse than the reality. The more you put yourself in the environment that you’re worrying about, the easier it will be to make the transition.
  • Use breaks to de-stress: Take 10-minute breaks throughout the day to focus and ground yourself. If you started a meditation practice during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep it up. Even some deep breathing exercises can be calming if you find yourself feeling anxious throughout the day.
  • Be patient with yourself: Getting back to ‘normal’ takes time and be patient with yourself as you adjust. The length of the transition varies from person to person. Remind yourself that going back to the office will eventually feel like a normal part of life again and will have advantages, as well as challenges.

Going back to the office may seem like just as big of a life-changing transition as it was to switch to remote work. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to acknowledge it! Leah M. Joppy and Associates can work with your office to find productive ways for team members to feel safe and comfortable returning to the workplace. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

The Future of Work; The Feelings of Anxiety

As more and more people are fully vaccinated and we begin to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, office buildings are starting to open up again. But not everyone is excited about the prospect of giving up their “new normal” in exchange for their old routines and way of life. There is been so much focus on what we’ve lost over the past year, but so many of us have gained a lot too (more family time, flexibility, new hobbies, etc.). We’ve also dealt with so much uncertainty and stress over the past year and it’s going to take time to adjust to the world opening up again. All of this is adding up to very real anxiety about returning to the office and employers need to recognize it.

What are some of the major anxiety-inducing areas people are experiencing when it comes office re-entry? Here’s a look at a few:

A Loss of Time and Flexibility

Not everyone has had the luxury of working from home during the pandemic. But for those who have, there have been some silver linings during the past year. Not sitting in traffic and saving money on gas. Spending more time with family. Making more home cooked meals. Those are just a few of advantages many have experienced during an otherwise difficult year. And many workers are not eager to give up that newfound flexibility.

Fear of COVID-19 Spread in Closer Quarters

We know we have effective vaccines, but we still don’t know how long they’re effective. There is still a lot to be figured out and that’s causing anxiety for many people returning to the workplace. What will be the cleaning protocol for the office? Will people be required to wear masks? There are still so many questions. In fact, a survey released in March by the American Psychological Association found that 48% of people who have been fully vaccinated feel uneasy about returning to in-person interactions once the pandemic is over.

Better Focus and Less Distractions Working from Home

Yes, it took many of us a while to adjust to working from home and develop new routines. For those with small children, that may have been next to impossible. But for many, working from home offered a better chance to focus without the distractions of office life, particularly in the age of the open office plan. For introverted people, working from home may have been a dream come true! A recent survey of professionals by staffing firm Robert Half found that only 25% of people want to return fully to the office.

Our next article will touch on ways that employees can reduce anxiety as they return to office life. If you’d like help transitioning your team members back to the office, Leah M Joppy and Associates can help with ways to make the process smoother and reduce stress for everyone.

Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Pivoting To A New Way Of Business

For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many workplaces to upend traditional office environments and pivot to a new way of doing business. These changes looked different across various industries, but one thing is certain: work life will never be the same again.  Many of the workplace changes that became necessary because of the pandemic will likely impact the way we work for the long-term. This month and next, we’ll look at a few of the workplace trends you can expect to see. Here’s a look at 3 of the biggest:

  1. Continuation of remote work or moving towards a hybrid model: According to surveys from the IBM Institute of Business Value, 83% of people want to continue working from home in some capacity. Many organizations have seen the light and have determined that some degree of remote work can be a win-win for everyone. It’s a retention tool for present employees, as well as a recruitment perk for future talent.
  2. Bigger focus on employee wellbeing: The pandemic has required organizations to rethink what it means to have a healthy and safe workplace. Many are improving benefits related to employee mental and physical health, childcare and paid time off. Workspaces will be reimagined to maximize both safety and employee collaboration.
  3. Improving schedule flexibility: Prior to the pandemic, flexibility was seen as a perk. For many, it’s now a necessity. Employers are finally understanding the need to accommodate families who have school-aged children at home, particularly those who will continue with some form of online learning. After a year of working from home, many employees have grown accustomed to more flexible working hours and are going to be resistant to going back to more rigid hours. Now is the time to look at present policies and implementing changes to accommodate your team members.

Have you started thinking about how your workplace will look moving forward? Now is the time to rethink your old systems and habits and create a better environment for your team. Leah M. Joppy and Associates can help you take a look at your old ways of doing business and where you can make improvements – all while continuing to maximize productivity. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

Re-imagining How Work Is Done

When we think about how our lives have changed over the past year, our work life is probably one area where we’ve felt the greatest impact. The pandemic forced many offices to adopt new ways of working in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees – and they had to do it virtually overnight. For many people, it meant working from home exclusively and the numbers prove it. According to a Gallup Poll, the percentage of Americans working in some form from home jumped from around 25% to more than 60% during the height of the pandemic. As more people are fully vaccinated and life begins to return to some sense of normalcy, many employees have started to return to the office. However, the future of traditional work life and workspace will likely be impacted for the foreseeable future.

Some employees are eager to return to the office and have face-to-face contact with others and enjoy post-work happy hours. Others have adjusted to working from home and don’t miss their long commute. Companies are realizing that there are advantages to both work from home and office time. That’s why the hybrid model where employees can work at least a few days from home may likely become the new norm. It’s one of several workplace trends that we’ll discuss in the next article.

There are a lot of questions businesses must answer about the role of the office moving forward. It differs across industries and there is no one-size-fits all approach. However, there are some universal steps organizations need to take to re-imagine how work is done:

  • Decide how and where people work: Can some workers be fully remote? Does a hybrid remote model make more sense? Or does work need to take place on site?
  • Redesign the workplace to correspond with company priorities: Looking at spacing issues between desks, meeting space, the airflow of the office and upgrading technology to collaborate with people working from home are just a few areas to consider.
  • Look at the footprint of the office and resize creatively: Now is the time to take a fresh look at how much space is required and the location.

Across industries, leaders will use the lessons learned from the pandemic to reimagine how and where work gets done. Employees will demand it. Organizations must use this time to break from the old habits of the past and reinvent what a collaborative and productive work environment looks like moving forward. Creative and bold organizations will be the ones that meet the challenge and retain and attract employees.

Is your organization poised to make challenging workplace decisions that will create a better experience for your employees? Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Who’s In Charge of Your Coaching?

Think about it: how likely are you to take someone’s “advice” when they’re essentially telling you what to do? Are you more likely to act on an idea if you’ve come up with it on your own and feel that it’s YOUR decision?

For most people,asking for advice sounds more appealing. The difference comes down to “asking for advice” versus “telling you what to do.” Often, they both seek to accomplish the same thing, but the methods and results can differ dramatically.

We don’t often think about the differences between asking and telling and the effects of both. When you ask someone to do something, you’re creating a dialogue. However, telling someone what do to is a monologue. Here’s a further breakdown of the differences:

 

 

Telling You What To Do:

  • Controls the information
  • Doesn’t engage the other person in the decision making process
  • Keeps you in the role of the ‘knowledgeable person’
  • Makes people reliant on you for advice or information

Asking For Advice:

  • Empowers others
  • Encourages decision making
  • Engages people in the thought process
  • Encourages people to be less reliant on your “expertise”

We experience “asking” versus “telling” in so many areas of our lives: work, home and relationships with family and friends. One area where asking for permission is so vital is during the coaching process. People often work with coaches because they’re ready to make meaningful change and approach life with a new and fresh way of thinking. This type of change is only going to be sustainable if a person comes up with ideas and perspectives on their own terms.

Many people feel a little nervous when they start working with a coach. After all, you’re delving into the most personal of territories: your life. You’re bearing your soul about what’s working and what you’d like to do differently. You’re there with the goal of making changes, but change can make you feel vulnerable. All of these feelings are completely natural. That’s why it’s so important that the coaching relationship is participant-driven and you’re in the driver’s seat. It sets a collaborative tone and uncovers tools for success in the future.

When we reflect on the biggest changes we’ve made in our lives, most likely they’ve happened because we’ve made decisions and come to conclusions on our own terms. Advice or the unpopular “you should do this” method is rarely helpful. If you’re looking for coaching where you’re in charge, Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Permission-Based Coaching

Sometimes it feels like we live in a society that thrives on giving unsolicited advice and loves to “tell” instead of “ask”. “You should do [insert task here] this way.” “You need to handle [insert situation here] by doing this.” After a while, we can feel like we’re losing our sense of autonomy or worse, start to doubt our ability to make decisions on our own. However, one place where you should never feel like you’re being “told” instead of “asked” is when you’re working with a coach. That’s why “permission coaching” is such a vital part of the process. By asking permission when having a discussion, it helps people feel like they’re in the driver’s seat and their feelings are respected. It also establishes trust in the coaching relationship. Here are a few approaches that are permission-based:

  • “I’d like to discuss some more about this matter. Would this be okay with you?”
  • “Is this a good time to talk and explore this topic a little more?”
  • “Can we spend a few minutes brainstorming some ideas about this?”
  • “I’m getting the sense you have more to say about this topic. Could I ask some more in-depth questions?”

Some people get so used to being “told” what to do that it becomes a comfortable pattern. It’s easier to be led and rely on someone else than make autonomous decisions. On the other hand, other people who live or work in an environment where they’re consistently being told what to do may become defensive and resentful. Both personalities benefit from “permission coaching” because it gives them a chance to explore their own thoughts and insights independent from being told what to think or feel.

This isn’t always an easy process and it takes work, particularly if you’re accustomed to being told how to handle things under the guise of “advice”.  If you’re interested in learning more about how working with a coach can help you explore your thoughts and reach new insights on YOUR terms, Leah M. Joppy and Associates can help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

COACHING OUR WAY THROUGH ANXIETY

AnxietyThe past year has brought so many anxiety-producing unknowns into our lives that it’s becoming difficult to remember when we weren’t dealing with these stressors. And now we’re adding a new one to the list: when and how can we get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s like we can see some light at the end of the tunnel and can finally begin to get a sense of normalcy into our lives, but we still have an uphill battle ahead of us. For many, it’s causing frustration and confusion and adding to an already anxious situation.

By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “you can’t control events, but you can control how you respond to them.” Easier said than done, right? How do you get started when you’re already feeling overwhelmed? Working with a coach helps you build strategies to deal with the stressors of whatever life is throwing at you right now, whether it’s anxiety over waiting for the vaccine, job challenges or uncertainty about the future. Here are some examples of what a coach can teach you:

  • How to increase your emotional resilience.
  • How to shift yourself out of anxiety and into a more proactive mental state.
  • How to effectively handle situations that are out of your control.
  • How to deal with both the mental and physical reactions of anxiety.

Often, having a strong listener on your side and ready to help can make a huge difference. A coach can provide you with mental exercises to turn to during stressful events, help you track your progress, hold you accountable for your goals and provide needed social support.

Anxiety focuses on what can go wrong, while hope focuses on what can go right and opportunities despite present circumstances. If you’re looking for someone to help with your anxiety during this difficult time, Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. You don’t have to deal with this this alone. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

 

COACHING OUR WAY THROUGH ANXIETY – WAYS TO HELP

anxiety waysPerhaps you’ve seen the famous quote from Erma Bombeck: “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.” This has never been put to the test more than in the past year. So many of us are dealing with anxiety about the world right now. Add to it the stress of waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine for us and our loved ones and our thoughts can feel almost crippling. What steps can we take to lessen our burden and start to break the anxiety cycle?

When we’re anxious, our brains start coming up with all kinds of ideas, many of which are unlikely to happen and unrealistic. That only builds on an already anxious state. Often, stepping back and challenging your thoughts can have a powerful outcome. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What evidence do I have that my worry will come true?
  • Do I have evidence that my fear is false?
  • How will I handle it if my fear comes true?
  • Does it benefit me to think this way?
  • What are the costs of thinking this way?
  • Is there anything I can learn from this situation and use in the future?

One of the worst things you can do when feeling anxious is to sit around and obsess about how you feel. We’ve all been doing a lot more of this since the pandemic began and thinking about worst-case scenarios. Break the cycle and focus your attention on a goal-directed activity and doing what needs to get done. Accomplishing a goal, no matter how small and “getting out of your head” often makes you feel better and more empowered.

When you’re feeling anxious, you might feel stuck and caught in a cycle of “what-ifs”. That’s where a coach can help by providing tools and techniques to manage anxiety effectively. Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to share healthy ways to cope. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.