Tag Archives: covid

7 Reasons Why WFH is so Damn Difficult Right Now

WFH can be a struggle! So what can you do about it?

Even experienced WFHers are struggling. So why can’t you get anything done?

And what can you do about it?

1. TOO MUCH ANXIETY:

Stress and worry makes it harder to concentrate because you don’t have headspace for anything else.

TIPS:

  • Switch off the constant Covid-19 newsfeeds – you need a mental break or you risk having a mental breakdown.
  • Set yourself clear deadlines to achieve specific small targets in a short burst of time. So, 1 hour to finish a pitch. This will help you focus on one task at a time. Don’t look too far ahead – nobody knows when this will end. Just plan a day and or a week at a time. You cannot control the coronavirus, so focus on what you can control.
  • Every time you achieve a small goal you will boost your dopamine levels (the reward centre of your brain). So, make sure you have plenty of them in a day.
  • Combine this with regular exercise to reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

2. A LACK OF ROUTINE:

Without the daily rhythm of the commute, lunch breaks, meetings and an evening spent winding down, you might feel lost.

TIPS:

  • Ever heard that saying 90% of what we do is habit? Well, we are creatures of habit…you just need to create new ones. Get up at the same time each day, shower and dress, “go” to your workspace, plan your day – including your breaks – and you will put yourself into work mode.
  • Plan your downtime too – it will give you something to look forward to. For example, at 5pm I will switch off my computer and sit on the balcony/decking/lawn and have a nice cool drink while chatting to friends on the phone. A clear differentiation between work and rest, will enable you to ‘get away’ from work even if you are still in the same physical space.

3. FEELING ISOLATED:

If you are used to a busy office, constant interaction with colleagues and clients, demanding deadlines and a mountain of things to do, sitting at home in isolation can leave you feeling flat.

TIPS:

  • Recreate the office vibe at home. You and your colleagues can use apps like HouseParty or Microsoft Teams so you can all see each other during office hours – and get input from the team (remember to mute your voice if you don’t want everyone to hear everything going on in your home). Or Skype or WhatsApp so you can “see” people and work collaboratively.
  • Work is not just about work – for most people it’s also about socialising. Recreate Friday night drinks on HouseParty or have a virtual lunch break each day when you sit and eat or snack while chatting.
  • Also boost your network – sharing with others is key. Procurious has a great feed that you can follow either online or on twitter. The added bonus is that you will link to more people and that could lead to more opportunities or great ideas for doing things differently.

4. TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS:

While some are struggling to stay focused because their home is just too quiet, for others the opposite is true. Noisy children, several TVs all blaring at once from different rooms or flatmates/partners who want to chat all day, make it impossible to achieve anything.

TIPS:

  • Have you have spotted people conducting conference calls in their cars while still parked on the driveway?  It’s probably the only quiet place they can find during lockdown. Do the same, find a quieter space… even if it is the car/shed/basement.
  • If you can, agree a “quiet” time for you to get work done. Also, consider when you do tasks that require concentration – for example, do your report writing in the early hours or later at night.
  • Either invest in noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music on your earbuds to drown out background noise.

5. YOUR TECH IS NOT UP TO IT:

This is a difficult one to deal with – while tech stores might not be open, you can order plenty online. However, there’s probably very little you can do right now to upgrade your internet connection. This can not only be frustrating but leave you feeling that you just can’t get anything done.

TIPS:

  • Keep your work tech for work – if you are spending your day laughing at silly memes or watching funny videos, you might (inadvertently) download a virus or click on a link that gets you hacked.
  • Ask your employer – can someone send a laptop to your home? Or can you be provided with remote access to office servers?
  • Restrict your household’s use of the internet during your peak working hours – so that your internet access does not lag (or lag too much).

6. YOU DON’T SEE THE POINT:

You might not have a job next week or next month and you could fall sick and end up on a ventilator. So, completing a project or meeting a deadline might not seem worthwhile.

TIPS:

  • Focus your energy on doing something positive. Set yourself some interesting, challenging and achievable goals. Do a 75-hour coding course, build a personal website or even KonMari your house…anything that will give you a sense of achievement and purpose. It’s highly motivating, so try it.
  • If your job is under threat, online learning is a must. Many courses are free and you might have plenty of free time to complete them. Pick courses that lead to recognised qualifications – the ones in demand by employers.

7. YOU HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH/ANY WORK:

This is almost worse than having too much work. You might find that it takes you all day to complete what you used to achieve in a few hours. Or you are forced into job creation mode – trying to come up with useful things to do from clearing out your inbox to updating your online profiles. Without a little bit of adrenalin pumping through your veins you feel like you are just plodding.

TIPS:

  • Take on a few extra commitments: Volunteer in the community – it will force you to complete your work more quickly. Or set yourself a home fitness challenge. If you are a bit of a deadline junkie, it will give you the motivation to get your work out of the way.
  • Relish this time – in a few months, you may be firefighting at work to get things up and running and might look back on this time and wonder why you were stressed about not getting enough done. Perhaps we should all learn to enjoy living at a less frantic pace.

Want to share WFH tips and tricks with other procurement & supply chain professionals around the world? Join our Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group and connect with professionals all around the world in the same position as you.

My Pay Has Been Cut. What Should I Do Next?

Has your pay been cut due to COVID? Here’s what to do if it has. 


There’s no doubt that the economic effects of the coronavirus have been significant, with job losses being so severe that many countries  are comparing this situation to the Great Depression.  But for those of us who have fortunately retained our jobs, the effects have still been felt. Namely, many of us in numerous industries from professional services to education may have had to have some uncomfortable conversations. And those conversations may have involved taking a pay cut. 

Right now, we may all just be grateful to have a job, and besides, with quasi-lockdowns and travel bans still in place for much of the world, we may simply not need as much disposable income. But looking into the future, how happy will we be that we’re now working for less? How long will it take for wages to revert to ‘normal?’ Should we ask for a raise anytime soon? 

To help answer all of your burning questions about pay, we spoke to Stella Voules, Director and Co-CEO of JOST&Co., a HR and change management consultancy. But before we bring you Stella’s insights, here’s a high-level rundown of the industrial relations set up in each of our major member countries that govern pay cuts: 

Can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Is it even legal for your organisation to ask you to take a pay cut? It depends on where you live. Here’s the different laws for the US, UK and Australia. 

In the USA, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Legally, yes. Pay cuts are allowed, as long as they aren’t done on a discriminatory basis (for example, they haven’t your pay because of your gender). A pay cut due to COVID is legal, and all your employer needs to do is notify you of the same. If you do have an individual employment contract or union employment contract, you may be protected from pay cuts, depending on your conditions. 

After they cut your pay, your employer does not have any obligation to return it to its pre-COVID levels. 

In the UK, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

No If your employer does want or need to reduce your pay, they need to obtain your consent. 

If they don’t first obtain your consent, you are entitled to resign, initiate a claim against your employer, or continue to work in your job while also initiating a claim for compensation. 

If your employer does ask you to take a pay cut, you are also entitled to refuse. But if you do this, your employer may be able to terminate your employment contract and try to offer you a new one with varied conditions and pay. 

If your employer is changing the pays of multiple people within your organisation, they are also legally obliged to consult with your relevant trade union. 

In Australia, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Usually, no. A reduction in pay is classified as a variation in your employment conditions, so you and your organisation must first agree on the changed terms before the change is made. You have the right to refuse a change in pay, and if your organisation terminates your employment on account, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal. 

Yet although your organisation can’t force you to take a pay cut, there may still be pressure to do so if you fear you will otherwise lose your job. 

If I’ve taken a pay cut due to COVID, when should I expect my pay to return to pre-pandemic levels? 

The legals of pay cuts are rather black and white. Yet as many of us know, employment is very much a relationship, and given the strain that coronavirus has put on so many businesses, many of us are feeling both empathetic towards our employer, and grateful to be in a job at all. These feelings may have encouraged us to agree to pay cuts – for now. But when can we expect our pays to go back to normal? 

Stella Voules says that that is a very big question, and the answer isn’t as simple as we’d like: 

‘Your pay cut “end date” may depend on the instrument used to change your pay in the first place, for example what was in your contract or what your union negotiated. In some cases, an end date may have been specified.’ 

‘But given that the pandemic has no end date, it’s likely that your pay cut may be ongoing.’ 

Stella says employees who have had their pay cut should have done so on certain conditions, and those conditions may have included entering into a new, temporary agreement. If you don’t think this has happened to you, though, Stella advises seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer and your union to understand in more detail what you’ve agreed to. 

If my pay cut was undefined in its length, what signs should I look out for from my employer’s perspective that might indicate my pay would be restored? 

If you’ve taken a pay cut with no defined end date, you might be worried about when your pay will be reinstated. Will it be when the pandemic is declared over? Or will it be when the economy has completely bounced back? 

Unfortunately, much like the pandemic end date, there may be no definite point in time or event which will signal that your pay should be restored. But if you are concerned, there’s a few things you can look out for, says Stella: 

‘Just like in “normal” times, knowing what you should be paid is about watching the market. Look at job ads, ask around, see what other people at other organisations like yours are being paid.’ 

‘Within your organisation, there’s also a few things you can do. For example, look at the revenues of your business, ask for their annual report, see how they’re performing financially.’ 

If an organisation is still in financial distress, says Stella, it will be difficult for them to reinstate pays. And even if they aren’t in distress, they may be taking a conservative approach as no one really knows how the pandemic will play out. But if, and only if, it’s clear that your organisation has returned to its previous level of profitability, then you may start asking questions about your pay. 

How do I go about asking for a pay rise, if my pay has been cut? 

Asking for a payrise is never easy. But in pandemic times, it’s even harder. How do you know if it’s appropriate to ask? How do you do so in a way that doesn’t seem greedy and selfish, especially if your organisation has suffered financially? 

Just like for any pay rise discussion, Stella says, you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Research what’s happening in your sector, and what’s happening within your specific category and job role. Understand whether there’s strong demand and have a good idea of pay benchmarks. Only then should you have any sort of pay conversation. 

Yet benchmarking your role in terms of pay is only the first step, Stella says. In order to have any type of pay conversation in COVID or even post-COVID times, you also need to know the  following: 

  1. How well your company is performing financially 
  2. How well you’ve performed in your role 
  3. What your unique skills and capabilities are, and value you personally bring to the company. 

Armed with this information (and assuming it’s all positive), Stella says that you can reasonably request a pay review. 

What should I do if my request for a pay rise is declined? 

Asking for a pay rise is one thing. But getting one is entirely another, especially at the moment. So if your pay has been cut, at what point should you consider looking elsewhere? 

Given the circumstances, Stella says, you should try to be fair to your employer by not looking elsewhere straight away, especially if they’ve been loyal and supportive throughout the pandemic. Beyond this, Stella believes that anyone concerned about pay right now should consider the bigger picture: 

‘If you don’t get your pay rise, remember that reward is so much bigger than pay. So perhaps you can’t get more money right now, but what about more flexibility? Or more opportunities, perhaps some different benefits?’ 

‘Give your employer a chance to find a way to keep you satisfied before looking elsewhere. Remember, the grass is not always greener.’ 

Have you taken a COVID-related pay cut? Has your pay been restored yet or do you know when it will? Let us know in the comments below.