Money & Business

Three Strategies for Building Remote Work Rituals

By / Apr 8, 2020 (damircudic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rituals provide normalcy for people, and losing those rituals while away from the office can be tough. Experts say the best way to handle this shift is to create some new ones.

The process of getting up and going to work has probably changed significantly for you in the last few weeks, which may have you feeling out of sorts as you try to navigate your day.

One way to get past the grogginess that comes with change is by focusing on rituals, especially creating new ones to replace those you’ve lost by not being able to go to the office.

A few considerations for what remote work rituals could look like:

Build around a morning “leverage point.” Perhaps it’s a walk around the neighborhood or getting on an exercise bike first thing in the morning. Or maybe it’s as simple as a morning coffee. But giving yourself a good start can make the rest of the day easier to manage, writes Thomas Oppong on Ladders. “A trigger tells your mind and body you are ready for work,” he writes. “To make every working day a success, structure your day to make sure this one action absolutely happens.”

Do more check-ins. At an organizational level, it may help for you to have certain team rituals that help to strengthen the bonds within the organization, writes London Business School Management Professor Lynda Gratton. “That could mean dressing in work clothes, or having check-in meetings at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” she explains in an article for MIT Sloan Management Review. “It could also mean always starting projects with a video touch point, and scheduling additional video check-ins midway through projects and at their end points. The emphasis is on checking in rather than checking up.”

Don’t be afraid to add in remote work rituals artificially. While organic rituals may seem like the right approach, if you need to force the issue, you need to force the issue. Creating your own rituals, even if artificial, can play an important role in making sense of the world, argues Harvard Business School Professor Mike Norton. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, he cites examples of people explicitly setting up video chats at a specific time. “It feels good to us to know we have this event happening at a regular time. It regularizes our lives. It reinserts some of the sense of control in a time when many of us feel like we don’t have control,” he states. “So I would encourage people who are right now feeling anxious and grieving to consider inventing a ritual, or to notice the ones they’ve added to their lives—at work, with their families, and with their partners.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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