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Motivate me!

Working from Home

By Ian Lavis on behalf of Praxity Global Alliance

Many of us are struggling with motivation and mental health issues during the pandemic, especially those working from home.

Research by Harvard Business Review reveals people forced to work from home suffer huge drops in motivation, which impacts mental health, wellbeing and work performance.

Younger people seem to be suffering more. Research by UK management consultancy Lane4 shows 44% of employees aged under 35 say a lack of motivation since the beginning of the pandemic has been hindered their performance at work.

So, what can you do to motivate yourself and your team?

We reached out to Praxity member firms to ask accounting professionals what they recommend to stay motivated. Here, we present our top ten tips based on their insight.

1. Exercise daily

You don’t need to run a marathon. Just a 15-minute walk each day can make a world of difference. Apart from a change of scenery, exercising releases positive endorphins which can help improve motivation. Home workout apps and podcasts are useful for exercising indoors, but make sure you find time in your schedule to get outside if you can, weather and lockdowns permitting.

“Flexibility to work from home or the office…provides the opportunity for morning, mid-afternoon or evening exercise to fit the schedule of the day.” Toni Rahilly, MD Internal Tax Services, Global Mobility, BKD.

“I would say to do some kind of exercise every day.” Phil Verity, CEO & Senior Partner, Mazars UK.

2. Show support and empathy

Being open, truthful and compassionate is a key aspect of motivation as it creates a trusting and supportive environment. Linked to this is the need to communicate clearly and show empathy and to reassure colleagues.

“It is essential to invest the time to have open, compassionate conversations with our employees. We made a promise to our people that we’d address everything, whether it was good or bad news. We didn’t want anyone feeling surprised. Keeping communication lines open allowed us to hear their concerns and reassure our people that we’re here to look out for each other.” Nick Hatzistergos, Chairman, William Buck.

“Just going out of your way to let someone know that they are doing great or have accomplished something well can really help. During the busy season, hours are long and tensions can get high. Kind words can breathe life back into the engagement and relieve anxiety.” Becky Belanger, International Project Manager, Praxity Global Alliance.

3. Get away from the screen

Give yourself regular screen-breaks to rest your eyes and focus on objects further away. Walk around, look out of the window at the birds, plants, anything other than a screen. Take breaks for a beverage or glass of water. If you feel like a chat, invite a colleague for a telephone chat instead of a video call.

4. Socialise

When you check-in with work mates, avoid solely work-based conversations. Consider virtual coffee/tea breaks and lighter chats. Find friendlier ways to catch up with colleagues and make sure they are ok. Many firms have been organising team-building games and quiz ‘socials’ online as a light-hearted way to involve people, especially those feeling isolated while working from home.

“Looking forward to catching up with colleagues at our monthly team quiz.” Rouse Partners.

5. Make lists and prioritise

Organise your day into manageable chunks. Apart from giving structure to your day, you will have the satisfaction of crossing tasks off when they are completed. Make a list of things to do and allocate time accordingly. Some people prefer to do the small tasks in the morning before taking on bigger projects.

“I have virtual sticky notes on my desktop but I like to write them down physically too. It’s helpful to visually see what needs to be done. It helps me stay focused and accomplish one thing at a time. Also, I love when something gets done and you check off the box.” Becky Belanger, International Project Manager, Praxity Global Alliance.

6. Try new activities

More time spent at home provides an ideal opportunity to try new hobbies and learn new skills. Learning how to cut hair has become a must for many of us. Accounting professionals in Praxity member firms have also been trying DIY, upcycling furniture, cooking, gardening, yoga and meditation.

“Saving money by cutting my own hair, and not being too worried, if it all goes horribly wrong.” Rouse Partners.

7. Maintain relationships

Staying connected is vital for motivation and wellbeing, not just for you and your team but your clients too. Take time to check-in with everyone you do business with. Catch-up on projects, share news and ask your clients how they are feeling. The chances are your clients will appreciate the chance to have a chat and ‘offload’, and it will maintain and enhance your relationships.

“We are maintaining as many of our relationships as possible with video calls or socially distanced in-person visits.” Ted Dickman, CEO, BKD.

8. Breathe

It may sound obvious but slowing down to take a deep breath makes a difference. It helps you be in the moment and feel calm and relaxed, which helps with focus.

“Pausing to take a deep breath one or two times during the day between meetings is really helpful to get centred and back on task.” Heather Weber, Indirect Tax Services Leader, MNP.

9. Think about positive impacts

Clients are relying on accounting professionals for support more than ever, and thinking about this positive impact can provide a real boost. Also, using positive language and minimising negative ideas can also help motivate ourselves and those around us.

“Reminding myself and all of our team the huge impact we are having on others by lifting them up with our work and attitudes. There are many clients who have needed our services more than ever before.” Ted Dickman, CEO, BKD.

10. Create a home café or bar

Space permitting, some accounting professionals have decided to make their relaxation time that bit more interesting by creating a little café or bar area at home – somewhere ‘to go’ and switch off completely from work at the end of the day or on the weekend.

“By converting a garage into a bar, we can still enjoy evenings out of the house in new surroundings.” Rouse Partners.