Structures, agreements and improvisation - replacing chronic postponement syndrome and dawdling
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Structures, agreements and improvisation
- replacing chronic postponement syndrome and dawdling
Coping with everyday life in the Corona home office
This blog post was actually supposed to have "Procrastination, chronic postponement syndrome and dawdling", or some such title, as its subject. Well, the author procrastinated for quite a while, as you might say, and kept postponing the article, because she also asked herself, "Who will be interested in that now? Now that we are all hostages to the coronavirus?" True. Actually, no-one. Yet now, since B.I.P. is an external personnel-administration firm, we need to cope with quite other cares and confront quite other tasks than discussing the subject of the blog with me further. So here comes an attempt at bridge-building:
The challenge of the home office in the crisis
I assume that in the current situation you and your staff from administration are keeping the business going from your home office. Then, as an entrepreneur or boss, you are faced with quite particular challenges. These include, to start with, the risk that you yourself sag beneath the weight of this crisis and the impact on your business associated with it. And that your staff in their home offices, for various reasons, likewise don't do their work with their usual energy. For those who otherwise have never yet done a day of home-office work – or only done so in exceptional situations – the accustomed structures and workflows are no longer there, the channels of communication are different, new tools and techniques come into use, which first have to be learned, and there is no contact with colleagues. And then come worries and anxieties about the all-encompassing pandemic, which means that the mind is often not free for everyday work. Nevertheless, all that must be coped with somehow from the home office. Maybe a perfect set-up for chronic postponement syndrome and dawdling.
The challenge: managing at a distance in a time of coronavirus
For you as an entrepreneur, management at a distance – if you have not practised it before – will also be a quite new challenge. In a Spiegel interview on 11 March 2020 Teresa Bauer, a home-office expert, said: "The fear at the start of losing control is quite normal." And she explained further: "Be quite sure about one thing: if you are seeing your employee in the office working on a laptop, you also can't control him or her. You can only see that he/she is there. In this new situation, when suddenly everyone is in a home office, it takes time for trust to be established. You can also admit to the team: “This is new for me, but we can cope with it together.” What will be of help now is to agree on new more flexible structures, clear agreements and, above all, improvisation.
Chronic postponement syndrome: a challenge in the unaccustomed home office
"Very many people who are not used to a home office must now work from home, and for many of them that sounds all fine and pleasant at first, but it can also speedily become really unpleasant if you are overburdened", explains Margarete Stokowski in her Spiegel column, "Ten rules for surviving in your home office", of 17 March 2020. As a freelance author she is perfectly familiar with the subject. "Actually, rules for the home office are basically no different from those which apply to concentrated work, though usually you don't make these rules into a particularly conscious scheme of things, because you more or less automatically stick to what is usual at the workplace in question. Experience shows that people who start to work at home, despite the very different jobs they are doing, have pretty much the same problems." These include the risk of chronic postponement syndrome or, in the worst case, pathological procrastination. Students and people in certain professional groups are particularly affected, such as lawyers, journalists and teachers. At the present time it can affect everyone who, due to the coronavirus, is banished to a home office.
The challenge: home office, home schooling, and all the rest
There, or in the home you share, children – likely to be under-exercised – are now maybe rushing around, romping, moaning, or quarrelling with their brothers or sisters. Who, in addition, are supposed to be taught by their parents as auxiliary teachers via home schooling. And perhaps husband or wife, likewise in a more or less bad temper, will try to get through it at an improvised home-office workplace. Or, when the four walls first start to press in on them, ring up their friends and relations, as they stride up and down the room, to hear how they're doing. And it is not much better for those who are completely isolated in their home office, and possibly even in quarantine.
The challenge: corona crisis and what comes next?
Above all – go easy on yourself now as well as on your staff, your fellow men and women, on those who are close to you and who in these corona home-office times feel (unavoidably) thoroughly pestered, and on those who now seem quite strange to you, because they are not reacting to the challenges of the present crisis in exactly the same way as you yourself. We are all human, and as a society we have not experienced anything comparable for as long as the Federal Republic of Germany has existed. There will come a time after this crisis. We ought to be thinking about that. It will be different from before. So: what procrastination is all about, why it can be pathological or even strategic, and on occasion even necessary or a spur to creation – let's think about all that rather a bit later. After corona. We may postpone without needing to cancel.
At B.I.P. we know from first-hand experience what a difficult time this is for many businesses. In many firms, production has ground to a full halt; in other places short-time work has had to be introduced. Be sure that you can rely on us at B.I.P. to be at your side and to do really everything which is possible for us to support you – so that your business survives this crisis as well as possible.
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by Martina Tangara