I’ve been working 100% remotely for 8 months now, and counting.
At first, I really loved not having to commute 45 minutes or more each way to the office. I’ll also confess that wearing jeans and a polo shirt to work each day was a big plus for me…
However, after so many months, I’m really missing the camaraderie of walking into a colleague’s office and chatting about things both professional and personal. I miss being able to grab a lunch together, enjoying food in good company.
According to Dr. Faucci, we’re unlikely to get back to safe, unlimited, in-person interactions before the end of 2021. It may even be longer than that.
It’s time to admit to ourselves that we need to consider that as upside-down as it may feel, this is our new normal.
Conquering the New Normal
Here are 3 things you need to do now to accept and build on this new normal.
The First Arena – Your Mind
Like so many, I’ve been holding on to the notion that how things are now is temporary, that I just need to hold on for a bit longer until we can all go back to normal.
That’s ok for a week or a month. It’s bearable for a few months. For year, or two, or more, not so much. My dad, may he rest in peace, used to quote this wise saying (attributed to Allen Saunders), “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.”
So, to master this new normal, we need to stop “making other plans,” and accept what life handed us. This is the first thing you need to do now – change your mindset from “I just need to hang on until things go back to normal” to “this is it, and I need to deal with what is, not what I wish it was.”
Related to this, you need to change your routines to ones that will sustain you through another year or more of pandemic-related constraints. This includes:
- Safe ways of staying physically active; for me this means walking regularly in our neighborhood or our treadmill when it’s too cold and wet, cycling on a stationary bike at home, kayaking when the weather is good enough, etc.
- Safely connecting with friends and family; for me, this includes inviting people over to our porch when weather allows, meeting family who are staying socially distanced and working remotely themselves (or meeting those who have to take on higher risks but keeping our masks on), etc.
- Finding safe options for getting out of the house; for me, this includes walks through a nearby forested trail, occasionally eating at a restaurant offering outdoor dining, and finding new places to visit with beautiful views and the occasional quaint shop we can enter with masks fully covering everyone’s mouth and nose.
- Finding ways to challenge yourself mentally, to protect your brain (maintaining your “neuroplasticity”) and your mind (staying mentally active and healthy), and that help you find purpose; for me this includes doing jigsaw puzzles, playing word games and shape puzzles, writing blog posts (like this one), and developing new aspects of my business(es).
In general, find a wide variety of activities you can do and increase the challenge level over time. This is a great piece that offers lots of concrete ideas and examples.
The Second Arena – Your Physical Space
Depending on your specific business model, your physical space must provide a comfortable and professional environment. This is critical when you meet clients in person or even via Zoom. However, even if you have no face-to-face client interactions, it’s important to support your mindset. This includes:
- A comfortable chair
- A comfortable way to hold whatever equipment you use, such as a computer, microphone, webcam, notebook, or anything else; this is usually a standard desk, but can be a standing desk, a wheeled laptop desk you can pull over your lap, or even a walking desk attached to a treadmill
- Good equipment, such as professional versions of the above-mentioned microphone and/or webcam that help clients see and hear you well
- A space that looks professional to clients or colleagues who see you through your webcam, but that as importantly feels professional to you and puts you in the right mind space; this might mean no distracting pets, kids, or husbands in shorts walking behind you (or across your keyboard…); an attractive, non-distracting backdrop behind you; and an attractive, non-distracting view in front of you as you raise your eyes from work.
The Third Arena – Your Services and Products
If this is it for a year or more, you need to make sure how you run your practice/business is sustainable, and takes advantage of the changed environment. You need to reach your clients in ways that work better for them, and offer them a range of services and products that help them regardless of their current circumstances.
Here are some ideas for sustainable marketing, from paid to free to income-producing:
- (Paid) Since we’re all online even more these days, digital marketing such as Google ads and FB ads may be even more effective than ever.
- (Free) Online quizzes are always a favorite, especially if they don’t require the prospect to give their email address to get the results – try an inviting additional offer for that, such as a free 15- or 30-minute Zoom debrief to understand the results and figure out what to do next.
- (Free and can even bring in a small side income) Since people have more hours to fill than when they commuted to work, blog posts and free webinars may be attractive. However, you need to provide true standalone value even for someone who doesn’t end up becoming a client.
As for services and products, consider diversifying by adding lower-cost options that can serve as a first stepping stone to becoming clients for your standard services. Even better, these can provide standalone income streams from people who don’t want (or can’t afford) your regular services. This could include one or more of the following:
- If you normally work with individuals, a group offering can increase your hourly income while costing each participant far less than your full individual rate. Groups also allow peers to offer each other insights you may otherwise miss.
- Live seminar/webinar/FB-live/Zoom sessions with interactive Q&A.
- Pre-recorded videos (e.g., of your live sessions).
- Workbooks, quizzes, and exercises with guides on interpreting the results (you can offer these free as a marketing tool with more limited interpretation guides).
- Subscriptions offering monthly access to your live sessions, recordings, e-books, etc.
The Bottom Line
Since it looks like the current situation isn’t likely to go back to normal in less than a year, if ever, it’s time to embrace this new normal. The above offers three arenas for mastering the new situation, making it sustainable for the long haul, and even making it work to your advantage.
Financial strategy is all about setting financial goals, crafting a plan to reach them, and doing what's needed to start implementing that plan in both your business and personal life. This includes adapting to changes and even taking advantage of them. If you'd like to learn what financial strategy can help you accomplish, email me and we'll coordinate a free, no-strings-attached phone call to explore that possibility.
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial or legal advice. You should consult a relevant professional before making any major decisions.