Swine flu? Learn to work from home

Don’t travel. Don’t get close to people. Stay away from large gatherings.
Whatever this becomes, the effect on the our workplaces and way of working will be severe. If you have children and / or are a knowledge worker, spending your time talking, thinking and working on a computer you must get prepared to work from home. 

Here are some tips:

Prepare a workspace for yourself – quiet, clean, organized. Getting that in place now will help you later.

People who are already comfortable with teleconference, email, social networking, self-management and lack of “face time” will have the easiest time of it. Start now to work with people over the phone, by video conference and by yourself.

Prepare to have kids at home while you work. If public health agencies close schools and daycare, somebody’s going to have to look after the kids.  Plan ways for them to keep busy and out of trouble while you stay productive.  Sharing care with other families will be essential.

Prepare to not have “face time”. If you’re a person who likes to be physically present with others, this will be hard for you.  Even preparing for video conferencing will help, as you will be able to see people’s facial expressions.
Of course, these are emergency adaptations. This may all come to nothing, but in the short term as public health agencies and companies learn how to respond to the situation, there will be decision made that restrict and change ways of life we have come to expect and believe are our rights. The transition to another way of working can be very hard.  Begin to work through the loss of your comfort and move into a new way of working while things are easy.

And depending on how long it lasts, we will all be affected. Basic needs must be met, and if you don’t live on a farm and grow your own food, work may become the last thing to worry about.

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What would Atticus Do?

I just read a great blog from Harvard Business Review based on the work of Rafe Esquith, the author of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire. It’s all about morals.  Morals in Management.  Ring any bells?  HBR has gone to an award-winning 5th grade teacher in Los Angeles for help.

According to the blog, Esquith has “adapted a framework from psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg called the Six Levels of Moral Development. In some ways, Esquith’s formulation is more useful, translated as it has been into something a fifth-grader can relate to. Here’s Esquith’s channeling of Kohlberg:

Level 1: “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Level 2: “I want a reward”
Level 3: “I want to please someone”
Level 4: “I follow the rules”
Level 5: “I am considerate of other people”
Level 6: “I have a personal code of behavior and I follow it”‘

Sound like anyone you know at work? Where are you usually on the scale?  Where are you in a crisis? According to the Wikipedia article on Kohlberg, most adults stop at level 4 in terms of consistent behaviour.  And the instance of empirical evidence of level 6 was so low, Kohlberg couldn’t prove it existed, but believed it did.

One of the tools Rafe uses in his classroom  for Level 6 is the question, “What would Atticus do?” Atticus Finch is the dad in To Kill A Mockingbird, the readers choice all time best book ever in every poll ever taken.  Atticus always does the right thing, even if it might hurt or will be painful.  If you haven’t read it, read it.

Where are you on the scale?

In your immediate challenges at work, what would Atticus do?

Are you ready to do that?