There’s a lot to be said for being and accepting yourself in the current working from home environment.
So far, we are all getting to know each other that bit more from home. With it, we are embracing our imperfections more as well showing more of our real selves to each other.
I think this is a wholly positive development.
With the removal of our physical places of work, teams everywhere have been very deliberate about using virtual means to stay connected.
We’re rising to the challenge, we’re being creative and it’s brilliant.
We’re not only using technology to connect and keep each other motivated on work-related matters. We’re actually taking time to ask the question “how are you?” and mean it.
We're seeing virtual morning check-ins, virtual tea breaks, virtual post-work drinks and even sing-alongs. It feels like teams are building more human relationships through this time.
There’s also something fantastic that happens when people communicate from home, which is probably where many of us feel most at ease and most comfortable in the world.
I’ve noticed some telling trends from the many virtual meetings I’ve had over Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams (or whatever your medium of choice) over the past few weeks.
People are feeling more comfortable to be themselves, and be a bit more stripped back.
Perhaps it’s that we have no choice but to show our real selves when working from home.
There’s no escape - whatever your home reality.
It may be that you have children whom you love and have to look after, and yes, they might sometimes walk in when you're on a video call.
Or it may be that you have a dog, or that your flat isn’t that big and it’s in a bit of a mess. It may be that you're wearing a tracksuit today, and no, you don’t wear shoes or socks when you're at home.
Embracing the imperfections, and being you, is a much better alternative than doing this...
At The Speakers’ Gym, we always insist that people bring more of themselves to work – to get to a place where they can be authentic and relaxed, comfortable in their own skin and less afraid to show imperfection.
After all, perfection isn’t very human at all. So why pretend?
Removing the formalities
Take a business meeting in town, for example.
This might involve a commute to the city to meet up and the need for 'business attire'.
It may mean signing in at an office reception, business handshakes and a massive, clunky conference table between you and the person you're meeting in a fairly stuffy conference room.
Now I’m not saying that in this new world every meeting must now be conducted from your bed, in trackies with the children on your lap to show you’re human. Of course not.
There’s certainly lots to be said for starting your day with purpose, being intentional and getting dressed rather than rolling out of bed and stumbling into your working day.
Yet often in a virtual meeting, without the formalities and trappings of 'doing business', the only thing left to do is have a human conversation.
These formalities too often get in the way of real, authentic human connection. And they needn’t.
When you remove any phobia of technology, or the discomfort of working in an unfamiliar medium, there’s a huge opportunity to build more intimacy and authentic rapport with clients and colleagues remotely.
(If you'd like some help in this department, you may way want to take a look at our virtual communication coaching programme here)
The key point when normality returns is that, regardless of whether we’re communicating virtually or face-to-face, not only is it ok to be ourselves at work, we must insist on it.
Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor, says:
“The injunction to 'keep it professional' [means that] nobody feels comfortable being who they really are at work.”
'Keeping it professional' means no one’s at their best, and we miss out on the glorious variety that results from individuals bringing their whole selves to work.
We should insist on creating cultures and environments where bringing your whole self to work is encouraged and celebrated.
This may well be one of the key legacies from this enforced period of home-working.
It'd be great to get to a world where business is less formal, without role-playing or any sense of needing to conform.
A world where people celebrate who they are, and accept and embrace their colleagues and clients. This would make work happier, healthier and infinitely more productive.
There’s no doubt the current times are awful for those directly affected, and incredibly challenging for all of us.
But if we have learned to be ourselves more without the formalities, this could be some lasting good that will see us come out stronger on the other side.