28 Nov Can you afford to stay at Base Camp?
Motivational speaker, record-breaking adventurer and founder of mental health charity Mind Over Mountains, Alex Staniforth is no stranger to overcoming adversity, having survived the two biggest disasters in Mount Everest history. In this article he shares some tips for managing the climb into the new working environment.
Expeditions in the high Himalayas might well be the perfect preparation for living through a pandemic. As a society, many of us have spent over 20 months stuck behind four walls in our very own ‘Base Camp’, enduring the most uncertain period of our lives and wondering when the top of the mountain might ever appear.
Even as the storm has started to settle, when we pop our heads out of the tent door the surroundings will never look quite the same again. It’s wired into human nature that we prefer to stay in our comfort zones, a survival mechanism, which offers some stability and certainty when everything else might feel outside of our control. Staying at Base Camp might feel like the safest place to be but living in fear of the unknown can also stop us moving forwards and reaching our potential.
The idea of homeworking has divided many business teams, with some reluctant to return to the office environment, whilst others crave for the human connection and to re-establish the confused boundaries between work and home. This great divide is likely only to hamper businesses as they try to get everyone back together on the mountain again.
There is a lot that employers can do, but how can we individually take ownership of the transition?
1) Maintain routine
Routines help to maintain some structure through uncertainty. Suddenly removing these positive routines can have the opposite effect. Schedule time to write down your current routines and note which are serving you and those which aren’t. If homeworking allowed you an hour to run on your lunch break, then why not bring your sports gear to the office? If you missed the opportunity to pick the kids up from school, why not speak to your manager about flexible working options?
2) One step at a time
Making big changes can be overwhelming and daunting enough to deter us altogether. Gradually making the transition keeps the safety rope in reach, whilst challenging ourselves to boost our confidence, such as starting with one day back in the office per week. Ultra-runners don’t (usually) start with a 100-mile race: they build up their experience over time, too.
3) Seek support
We have all been in unclimbed territory and on ‘the same mountain’, even if some colleagues returned to the office sooner. Sharing our collective struggles with colleagues, a manager or friends and family helps to uncover solutions, find new perspectives and mutual support – an important reminder that others have made it out alive too.
4) Control the controllables
In a tent in the Himalayas you have little other choice than staying hydrated, eating, keeping warm and your attitude. We can’t control the pandemic or the actions of others around us, but we can choose to wear masks, avoid public transport, exercise, and take regular breaks. Focusing in our circle of control keep us proactive and reduces stress.
5) Run your own race
Naturally some people will feel more comfortable than others about the transition. Whilst we have been on the same mountain, some will have a completely different perspective. Remain open to others viewpoints but don’t feel pressured to follow suit.
6) Why change?
Staying at home might seem like a win-win for productivity and performance, but equally the loss of interaction may lead to boredom and burnout. Take time to consider the benefits of each option. Simply writing a list can help to cut through emotion and false assumptions to find the new opportunities and motivate change.
Are you or your team stuck in Base Camp? I hope this article helps you to take the first step up the mountain.