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Remote Learning

Each morning when we wake up, we encounter an agenda. For some, the agenda is planned and the goal of the day is to accomplish as many things on the agenda before we return to our waking spot. For a few others, the agenda is thrust upon them in the form of surprise emails, children or fur babies introducing unexpected agenda items, the start of a cold or sickness, an uncomfortable or painful physical ailment that developed through poor sleep. That hypothetical list is endless. There are certainly variations of these two scenarios, and most likely the most common version is a combination of the two.


Many of my clients wake to a never ending work agenda and a haphazard personal agenda. There are calendar invites, Zoom meetings and countless emails that seem to spring from a fountain that has no beginning and no end. The only possible way to find relief from an agenda like this is to quite literally quit their job (or retire). Even vacation proves no more than a minor relief, because in the back of their minds they know they will have to catch up once they are back. It's like a constant drip in the background.


When the world went into lockdown in the beginning of 2020 because of the spread of COVID-19, there was a seismic shift in work culture. For so many professionals (the majority of my clients work for companies that allow them to work from home) the agenda of work and personal life was suddenly blended. For some, this was a welcome relief. Since children were also staying home from school, it proved the most utilitarian scenario to be home with them instead of scrambling to find childcare or worse, leaving a job to become a stay-at-home parent and teacher. For others, this was awful.


When I started to schedule meetings with my clients at the beginning of the pandemic, I naively thought they would have more flexibility. What I encountered was the opposite - most of my clients had less availability than when we they were on the campus of their respective companies. I found this to be a most unwelcome development. And so did my clients. But the common refrain was that the company (i.e., managers and team members) knew everyone was at home. And that the world was shut down. So availability was at a premium and good excuses were not. Many clients reported being in twice as many meetings and having a schedule unlike any that had encountered at work before.


It became very apparent that the shift to working from home was also going to take a monumental shift in will power from my clients. If they were not careful, they would find themselves losing valuable progress in areas they had worked so hard to improve. The work we had been doing around exercising, eating mindfully, improving posture while sitting or standing at a desk and taking periodic walks was going to change. What I feared was that that change might feel too daunting in combination with all the other changes and those improved areas would get neglected.


We are six plus months into our new normal and the results for my clients have been mixed. There is a small cohort that has used creative alternatives at home and outdoors nearby that have allowed them to maintain a healthy routine. And being away from the office has helped eliminate some of the temptations that come with fully stocked micro kitchens and endless plates at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The larger group has struggled with exercising at home and eating well. While they have maintained some healthy habits around posture and movement throughout the day, work from home is proving to be a bigger challenge than anticipated. And there is another smaller faction that has found old habits to be more comforting and the agenda currently is to just survive with their wits intact.


In my next post, I'll write about some of the strategies I have developed with clients that are working from home. I'll also talk a bit about how I'm coping with our new normal.



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