A few weeks ago, none of us would have predicted that we would be locked down in our homes with both our personal and professional lives restricted to virtual communication channels. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly plunged the world into chaos with all sense of anxiety, stress and lack of motivation. The industry has been adapting to a flexible work culture, but the enforcement of prolonged work-from-home has its own obstacles.
While technology has made the jobs of technology professionals doable from anywhere, this phase of extended lockdowns and work-from-home has created some unique challenges across every level of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A lot of it is in the lower three layers of the hierarchy as below:
- Physiological and Infrastructural: having access to equipment, or hardware or connectivity
- Safety: projects and products getting changed due to the covid-19 situations, deals delayed
- Love and Belonging: Teamwork inhibiting – unable to whiteboard a solution, ramping up on new; Emotional – lack of team camaraderie building; Work Discipline-based – lack of appropriate timeboxing between home and office
Using a 2×2 matrix crossing Self/Others with Action/Impact as below allows one to impact not only the lower three layers but also the Esteem and Self Actualization levels.
|Quadrant 2: Self Action for Others Impact||Quadrant 4: Others Action for Others Impact|
|Quadrant 1: Self Action for Self-Impact||Quadrant 3: Others Action for Self-Impact|
If during this lockdown one can ensure we impact each of these quadrants we can build lasting habits. This allows us to come out of the lockdown stronger technology professionals and better human beings impacting every layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for us and others around us.
Quadrant 1: Self Action for Self-Impact (“I do it for good of myself”)
In order to develop some self-skills, people can focus on writing blogs – be it for Tumblr or WordPress. YouTube is also a great platform to enhance listening and communication skills. To build additional skills, people can pursue online courses on technology and soft skills like effective communication, problem-solving ability, self-confidence, etc. Soft skills in turn also build the foundation for improving high Emotional intelligence (EQ) through which one can recognize their own emotions and influencing the emotions of others.
Another way to improve yourself is by joining a group of professionals to network – LinkedIn is the best platform to start with. You can also build new micro or macro reading habits. The easiest way to start with is by reading book summaries and then reading the whole book depending on your interest. Since the lockdown has saved our time from commuting and weekend outings, one can utilize this time for building a new habit. As everyone is connecting on virtual calls, try to build new practices of keeping 5-10 minutes buffer between meetings; it gives you a break and time to prepare for the next call. And preferably use video to connect with employees in these distant times. Lastly, use mindfulness – a simple trick is to take 3 deep breaths between any two activities you are shifting to.
Quadrant 2: Self Action for Others Impact (“I do it for good of others”)
To make impact in the lives of others, people can take a few initiatives. The best way to start with is to look for online teaching opportunities at work or offer to teach in schools. Alternatively, you can teach online for your community via online sessions on an area of your expertise. Today, with the help of technology, online teaching is providing opportunities to share information more easily and readily.
By teaching online, you are not only helping others, but you are also developing digital literacy skills that are increasingly required in today’s challenging workplace environments. Start writing pieces of expertise and build a giving habit – volunteer to offer your time and money wherever possible. Volunteering and giving back to the community is an incredibly rewarding and life-changing experience. Small efforts of everyone will make a huge difference in someone’s life for their good.
Quadrant 3: Others Action for Self-Impact (“Others do it for my good”)
It is not always about you giving back, sometimes it is also important that you allow others to do it for your good as well. A simple example is to allow others in your team to help you by not overworking. You can also ask others for help when needed. Today, many companies have professionals to help on areas such as emotional support – seek help should you find yourself along, disconnected and needing support. By asking the right people for help, remember that you are also giving an opportunity for them to contribute.
Quadrant 4: Others Action for Others Impact (“Others do it for others good, I enable and watch”)
In this quadrant, let us recognize how a person’s actions can impact the lives of someone in a positive way. One way to begin is by attending virtual conferences, enabling the cause or spreading the message. It is important to write specific things one can do to help others, especially during this crisis.
By choosing to donate money via your organization or any others you are enabling others to use it for their good. It is also important to enable non-IT professionals to do their work by lending your voice to those causes which enable good. For example, encouraging others to buy from a direct farm market or encouraging others to order from a neighborhood shop to support them.
By retrospecting and ensuring you have actions in each of the four quadrants above, you can definitely come out stronger. By following the above few steps, you will invent yourself, you will learn to be more empathetic towards others and acknowledge their efforts. You are meeting new people, joining forces for a shared cause, you are being more open-minded, patient and learning to listen to others. Overall, you are evolving yourself as a better person out of this in the process. Also doing these actions consistently via say a list would ensure you build these habits for good in the long run.
By Debashis Banerjee, VP and India Site Lead, SAP Ariba