It is truly a difficult time for the world as we go through the uncertainty of the cause and effect of COVID-19. Unfortunately due to the safety of the people, many of us have had to take drastic measures to help contain the virus. As we have already seen, many events, gatherings have been cancelled and many hotels, restaurants and airlines are losing business. This is a time to be prudent and do whatever we can to sustain.
It is also a time we need to adapt and one of the areas businesses have to look at, is really to remove traditional beliefs and to start implementing ‘Work from Home’ solutions and practices that will let businesses and work to continue. This may be the new norm, at least for the next year or so but really we don’t know…
One of the ways that we have no choice but to accept is that the only way we can stop the spread is by implementing some form of social distancing. The chart below proves that we have to take some measures.
Thankfully, there are solutions today that are mature and practices that have been used for the last 10-20 years that can help.
However, the solution is not just a technical one. It involves many other components to make up a proper Work from Home practice. Here are some methods that are proven and that even I am using in my companies.
First and foremost, a work from home policy needs to be established that includes similar but more discipline that working in the office. This may include some of the following:
Leadership in times like these are also leadership of availability. As leaders we need to let our teams know that we are constantly available and morale needs to be preserved. Janet Lee, Culture Guru writes about this here: How Managers Keep Remote Teams Productive
Meetings are important but most of us don’t really like it. Why? Because typically it is long, there is no agenda and no desired results pre-set.
In the world of Work from Home, where everyone is not seeing each other face to face, having meetings is critical for ALIGNMENT. If we don’t know what the other is doing, we potentially may be wasting time.
The Meeting Rhythms are critical whether its in a Work from Home or an Office environment. These are taught in the book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and you can read about it more in the book. But for this topic, the 2 most important meeting rhythms are:
The Daily Huddle is a very quick and short meeting where everyone comes together on a fixed time every morning to update on 4 main areas:
Each one of us will take 2 – 3 minutes to mention the above update and this meeting should be short and precise. No problem solving here and no chit chat. Why? Cause we need the meeting to be quick and not let us THINK that its wasting our time to get sh*t done.
The Weekly Plan is typically thought about and planned before the week starts and once again we meet up and share what our goals for the week. This is to help us be more structured in what we do, our action plans and if any help is needed from anyone, we can foresee any disruptions to our plans for the week. This is typically done on a Monday morning
Once these rhythms are established, and alignment is achieved within the teams, you can see a shift in how everyone works towards a High Performance nature. Especially in a Work from Home scenario where we don’t see each other.
Having this rhythm also ensures that we are all going through things together and not feeling lonely in a home 🙂
Today there are heaps of technology and tools available for remote communication and really its up to your personal preference which one you choose. I make my choices based on:
In a Work from Home policy, to maintain discipline in the workforce, we need to ‘simulate’ a face to face environment as best as possible. Of course a decent internet connection is needed.
In my Tech company, we use Microsoft Office365 and Microsoft Teams because obviously we sell the solution but more so, Office365 has many of the necessary tools in one. A teams video conferencing feature, chat feature, email, central storage, task planner, central storage, collaboration on Microsoft Office and more.
For my other companies where they are smaller and we need to be prudent wherever we can we use the following:
NOTE: Many of these tools are offering FREE 6 months due to the current situation. Go check them out
Working from Home sounds like fun, but may not be easy, especially if the reason you have to do it is because of self-quarantine. It is important to maintain discipline and focus as shared above, but also some habits related to health of your body, mind and soul.
Every morning I do 4 things…
The FIRST is to maintain a positive outlook in life and maintain my sanity in a closed environment.
The SECOND is to ensure I keep my brain active and always learning something new. I am naturally not fond of reading and its hard to finish a book. But 10 minutes a day I can do. The other thing I do is to read an article or a daily devotional religious reading. This helps me to center myself and my faith
The THIRD is to reset my mindset and to ask key questions to myself about what I am going to achieve today. I also say a prayer during this time.
The FOURTH and final is to keep my body healthy and my immune systems stable. There are many exercise routines that you can find on YouTube which lasts for 30 minutes like HIIT or Tabatha and its simple enough that you can do it at home.
To add to the above, especially in the current global pandemic situation, it would be important to maintain a clean environment, wash hands constantly or use sanitizers and wear a mask if you are unwell. There are many practices on this that you can look up.
Having good habits like these and you can add any that you want, may seem tough at first, but hey… so was brushing our teeth. Once these become a habit, it becomes part of life and essential when working from home.
There may be cases where we can’t have everyone in our office work from home and being in the office is necessary. So one of the areas to look at is to have a Business Continuity Practice (BCP).
A BCP is a combination of all that I mentioned above coupled together with a people logistical process.
You may want to think about having 2 separate teams serving similar functions and creating shifts of weeks where each team works from the office while the other team works from home. Creating 2 separate teams may mitigate the risk of having the entire company infected at the same time.
Before the next ‘shift’ comes in, you may want to explore sanitization of the office and have ready supplies of hand sanitizers, face masks and a hygiene practice.
We’ve been helping companies to implement these and it has maintained productivity throughout. I hope this will help someone. If you are interested to know more, do put in a comment and reach out.
It is VERY possible to be just as effective with people working remotely IF we maintain regular rhythms and the necessary tools to assist. The only thing we need to have is the mindset of change and adaptation.
If there was one word that would sum up my year… its… BLESSED.
I thought last year was great… this year was even more awesome. Yes it sounds cliché, and there are times I think to myself… is this too good to be true? But I think we should be grateful, and to savor good times because we’ve also been through the bad… I know I have..
I also feel that as we grow older, and our wisdom kicks in through all the ‘learning’ experiences… we tend to make better decisions of how our life path should be shaping up moving forward.
So once again at this juncture I review my year, on my birthday, and ask myself these questions:
What was significant?
Wow… the year truly passed quick and as the saying goes… time flies when you’re having fun… This year has been a bullet train ride.
Travel: I’ve had work and local play trips to Port Dickson, Malacca, Johor, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, Ipoh and Penang. On top of that, I was able to visit Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, Colombo, Phu Quoc, Cancun Mexico, Amsterdam, Paris, Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Bali, Taipei and Gold Coast Australia. Truly blessed.
Mexico was interesting. It was beautiful. Totally opposite of what the American media paints it to be. We got to see the Chichen Itza, yet another Wonder of the World ticked off our list. Phu Quoc was beautiful. Never heard of it before I was shipped off to it but boy.. it was worth it.
This year was also a privilege to be asked to speak in Mexico, Manila, Macau, Shenzhen, Taipei and Gold Coast covering a somewhat international speaking circuit.
Out of all our trips, Hong Kong proved to be the more disappointing as we wanted to just get away and do nothing but eat great food. But we were disappointed by the lack of quality and it was exxxppnesivvveee!… Maybe we just picked the wrong places but oh well…
Business: People ask me how I am able to travel so much, yet run so many companies, speak, train and still have a wonderful family? Its really about building great teams in the business. Infront has been doing well although we saw some changes in Sri Lanka and our Indonesia structures, we are still positive. We’ve added a whopping 30% to our team size and possibly another 10% in the coming year. Running the Leadership360 program internally has been our key pillar of strength and has seen personal growth out of every one of them that is part of it. Our office in KL has finally been renovated… after 15 years!! So exciting to be in a newly refurbished home with new energy…
Owners Circle has been growing strongly as we commit to ethics and our purpose in delivering our programs. Once again, this team is fantastic. When an internationally recognized speaker come up to you and say he wants to be part of the motion BECAUSE he sees that our team is great… you know you’ve done something right. We’ve impacted more than 200 entrepreneurs and bringing them into a community has been a lot of work but more than worth it.
Our sake import business in Singapore under Origins Foodist is progressing slowly as we are learning the art of import and distribution
I have always believed that when you have 0% of people leaving the company and everyone committing 100% in growing themselves and our clients… magic happens. Truly blessed.
My investments in my 5 other businesses are steadily progressing and this year I also started a new business venture (will share in another post).
Personally: Busy? Yes… but I’ve learnt so much this year. My energy has been at an all-time high as I progress through this journey of impacting people. Living my purpose of Helping others become better versions of themselves. I see some other speakers and trainers doing programs to hundreds of people at a go and I get asked why I don’t do the same?
But… I constantly remind myself that the point is not to impact a lot of people, the point is to impact people that wants to be impacted. I don’t really care about the numbers… I care about knowing everyone I have touched. I care about being able to bring people together and get to know them. Maybe I am naïve…?
I asked myself if there was any downs this year… and I can’t really say there was anything significant, other than the occasional tired spells. But… many lessons (which I’ll mention next)
Oh and this year… I finally took drum lessons from my bandmate, and our band finally performed 2 performances, a full 3 set at the Barn! and another at a great friend’s 60th. That was so much fun and one of my more memorable highlights of the year. We sang a set of Queen! I did lose my voice after but… worth it.
Probably the only setback is my ankle ligament tear… from nothing… (age)…
But that’s all made up with my boyhood club i’ve supported, Liverpool… winning the Champions League and the World Club Cup
This year has put me at the juncture of many crossroads, making me choose to turn left or right. One of my biggest reminders is that when I choose… I don’t look back at the other direction and ask ‘what if’. I don’t think I’ve made everyone happy with some of those decisions, but I’ve learnt that those who know you best, will understand the path you’ve taken and they wish you well. Choosing and saying NO is a choice of focus if that choice is based on purpose.
This year I am also clearer on partnerships and moving forward I am now ready to take the leap and terminate some. One of my mentors reminded me of what it means to make Decisions based on Time. The longer we hang on to something just to get the ‘better deal’, or ‘not to piss someone off’ AT the expense of holding you back or diluting your time to do something along your purpose is… TIME WASTING. Decisions we make should always be based on how it affects TIME as we need to constantly remind ourselves that TIME is the ONLY commodity that cannot be regained.
Lastly, if our purpose is to help people, then success should be measured not based on how many, but how much ONE person has been helped. I must admit, this has been tough. I look at some other speakers and how they can speak to hundreds and thousands of people and I ask myself what am I lacking? I definitely do not have the ‘selling skill’ that some of them have and I really don’t want to focus on this. But if I don’t, how can I impact more people? So one of my mentors again reminded me of the amount of impact and its measurement as I shared at the start of this paragraph. This also reminds me that in our life, we cannot walk it alone, and we need mentors. Sometimes to guide us, but mostly is to keep us reminded of what we may already know and got lost somewhere in between.
Looking at my year, I have decided (and I hope you can be my accountability check) on the following top 3 priorities this coming year:
One of my good friends reminded me that we all have limiting beliefs. And its these limitations that create a selfish realm. I always say that If we are Not Growing, We are Dying, there is no Enough. Enough is a start of the progress to death. So in a nutshell, this year has been a lot of reminders and I am grateful to have friends and mentors that keep me in check and share what perhaps I already know but needs refreshing.
As I started this post with ‘I am blessed’, I do feel that the only reason I feel this way is because I am open to it and I have the right energy to deserve it. What is your energy?
Thank you to everyone that has walked with me this year and I am looking to continue this walk together.