The norms of the workplace have changed drastically over the last couple of decades and COVID-19 has accelerated that process, leaving everyone to wonder what the future of work looks like. People are used to putting on their corporate mask (as well as their real one’s), and presenting their best selves at the office. Now, employees are virtually welcoming people into their homes with the transition to remote work. They are scrambling to get their virtual background up to hide their make-shift living room office, or the toys left askew from spending time with the kids the night prior. Sound exhausting?
The standard of workplaces are evolving and leaders need to move with them. It’s time to embrace the mess, take your virtual background down, and share more than just your two-cents at a corporate meeting. Leaders need to flex their style and start setting new norms, making employees comfortable in these new conditions. It’s time to accept the new reality, let go of the corporate persona, and live more authentically!
The Future of Work Depends on Emotional Intelligence
The future of work depends on developing leadership with emotional intelligence. Once leaders accept these new circumstances, and develop more present-day practices and attitudes, employees will feel cared for, and retention, engagement, and productivity will follow.
It’s time to knock down the corporate facade, and follow the mandate we, at EI Experience (our corporate brand), lived by – Make being human in the workplace OK again.
Creating Emotionally Intelligent Norms
During this time of world-wide despair, and lack of social connection, people are needing to embrace emotions more and more. So, how do leaders of an organization create norms that allow employees to respectfully express their emotions in the workplace? The key is – leaders need to go first. They need to step out their comfort zone and be the first to admit their vulnerabilities, and open the conversation to a deeper conversation beyond the agenda for the meeting.
If leaders can unveil their own humanness, employees will feel more comfortable and connected to their superior, as well as their work. It can be as simple as removing your virtual background to show your messy office, allowing furry friends to join meetings, or having 5 minutes to get up and stretch during long meetings (who cares if you’re wearing sweat pants below your blouse and blazer!). Even starting the meeting off with a simple “How is everyone feeling?”, can open the opportunity for an intimate conversation beyond the usual “how was your weekend”, water-cooler chatter that was going on before.
By taking the corporate pressure off even slightly, it helps build a more empathetic workplace culture. When leaders show that they genuinely care about their employees, and move from employing to empowering their organization, the future of work suddenly won’t be so scary.
Lights, Cameras, Action
First of all, cameras need to be on. By making it standard to have your camera on the entire meeting, with no judgement, people will start to feel more comfortable with presenting, engaging, and communicating virtually. With cameras on, people will be able to pick up in their peers’ emotional cues. Creating a norm of putting people out of their comfort zones can help break the uncomfortable barriers that come with virtual meetings.
Further, by having cameras on, it is inviting their peers into their home! This provides a chance for leaders to connect with employees and inquire more about the employee as a not only someone who works with them, but as a person with a life outside of work. It is as simple as focusing on the employee as a human. Maybe, one of the employees has a guitar in the background, and a peer shares the same interest. Now, those two employees are connected not only on a project they are working on together at work, but a personal commonality.
Know Your Audience
2. Social Responsibility
People are well aware of the negativity going on in the world, they do not want to hear about it in the workplace. Everyday people are subconsciously doom scrolling on social media – and being exposed to endless negative online news. It is vital to navigate through these conversations with positivity. For example, ask questions about their day, weekend, family, upcoming celebrations, etc. Leaders need to show their employees that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and this too shall pass. By supporting the needs of the organization, universally or individually, it helps bring positivity into the workplace and makes working a happy escape. Optimistic people tend to expect good things to happen and anticipate the best positive outcomes in any situation. So, as dim as the news may appear, be the leader that trusts that things will turn out well.
4. Flexibility & Stress Management
Investing in Your Emotions
When leaders invest in their own emotional intelligence journey, it helps them to create a safe place for their employees to express, communicate, and feel their emotions without judgement. Emotional intelligence can be learned, developed and enhanced. If people want to take time to get a handle on their emotions, take one of our self-directed Online Courses individually, or as a group or company or invest in Emotional Intelligence Training, and build an emotionally intelligent repertoire to bring into the workplace culture. It’s time to open the door to emotionally intelligent leaders, and foster a culture of acceptance, empathy, and care. The future of work is in the hands of leaders to show their true selves behind their corporate mask that has been on for far too long.
If you are interested in learning more about why bringing emotional intelligence into your workplace is essential, check out our blog – Why Emotional Intelligence is Important in the Workplace. Alternatively, if you think your whole team would benefit from building their Emotional Intelligence skills, check out our Workshops available in live or virtual formats.