Returning to the Office and Setting Boundaries
Nomophobia is one of the latest words to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Nomophobia : Anxiety about not having access to a mobile phone or mobile phone services.
Most people have felt it, but what is it and how do you deal with it?
I can’t imagine how previous generations are dealing with the adopting of slang into the English language. I know my father would have been initially horrified and then maybe laughed in amusement.
This year has been challenging for everyone. As we adjust to another stage of living with Covid and adapt our thinking, it’s important to recognise that we are all feeling different about returning to the office.
I’m excited about face-to-face meetings and enjoying the first workshops where I can move around the room and use whiteboards with freedom. The joy of meetings (JOM) has returned and although I’m not hugging everyone I see, I am happy to be out again.
I know some people are concerned about how they’re going to continue the productivity they’ve achieved while using their commuting time. I can relate to this. As much as I’m looking forward to sitting with clients, we also need to include travel time, traffic, etc. However, for some it’s not the travel, it’s the being with people all day which is causing the greatest concern.
I met with Paul* last week and he is extremely nervous about being physically present all day. As a director he feels he is always scrutinised. Leaders do need to lead by example, and their influence is demonstrated in the way they enter the boardroom, walk the floor, and say good morning in the office. It requires vitality and a different type of energy from remote meetings. There are some who wish they still worked in their own offices instead of open plan, where they could not only hide from challenging queries, but they could also recoup their energy. Simon Sinek gives a great explanation about introverts and extroverts which is worth watching.
Paul and I talked through ways to ensure that Paul can cope with this move back to the office, included understanding his needs. Walking to work, taking breaks and putting your headphones on are all available with a well organised diary, but returning to, “Have you got a minute?” or “While you’re off the phone” will take some getting used to.
To manage your own spatial boundaries, I recommend the following:
• Continue to manage your diary effectively, taking breaks where necessary
• Recognise the need for space, both your own and for others
• Question boundaries and how they’ve changed
• Discuss anxiety openly and offer empathy
• Expect the occasional short fuses
• Find the positives: take away coffee; lunches; podcasts on the bus or a quick browse in the shops at lunchtime
• Leave your phone on your desk when you go to meetings
• Enjoy the casual mentoring and chat
And finally, recognise nomophobia: Anxiety about not having access to a mobile phone or mobile phone services.
Alternatively, feel free to “Chillax” or when everything is getting a bit tense and perhaps even say “Whatevs” internally and take yourself out for a walk. These words both also made it into the Oxford English Dictionary!
chillax, v.: intransitive. To calm down and relax; to take it easy, to chill (see chill v. additions 4). Often in imperative: ‘relax’, ‘calm down’
whatevs (int. and pron.: Used (typically in response to a question or statement) to indicate that the speaker is disinclined to engage with, or is indifferent to, the matter…
* Name changed for privacy reasons