SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.
Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.
I work in an open-air workshop where some co-workers decorate their workstations with sports paraphernalia and other things that reflect their interests. One of my co-workers is hyperpolitical, and during election seasons, he'll have a ton of political flags, signs and material in his station. Should he be allowed to showcase his political agenda so prominently at work? —Daria
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: In an open-air workshop, it's not uncommon for co-workers to decorate their workstations with items that reflect their interests. This diversity in personal expression can undoubtedly make the workplace more vibrant and enjoyable. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when it comes to political displays.
First, it's essential to understand that most employers have policies that limit or discourage workplace political and social expression. If a co-worker's displays violate company policy, it may be appropriate to bring this to the attention of your manager or HR.
However, it's equally crucial to recognize that workplaces are composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds, interests and perspectives. Just as you'd like to feel free to bring your whole self to work, your co-worker probably feels the same. Instead of labeling your co-worker based on his political affiliation, consider initiating a conversation and being open to his point of view. You may have more in common with your co-workers than you think.
Focusing on commonalities rather than differences can foster a sense of unity and respect among colleagues. We should cultivate mutual understanding and respect for each other's political perspectives, even if we hold differing opinions. Just because people differ politically doesn't mean they should be at odds on a personal level. A civil, candid discussion can improve communication and reduce stress when working together.
Ultimately, the workplace is a shared space where everyone deserves to feel comfortable and respected. Approach this situation with empathy and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue. Doing so can help maintain a harmonious and inclusive work environment for all employees.
A few months ago, I took a remote-work position, and it has become very challenging to separate work and home life since. My workday tends to be longer now that my workplace is at home. On top of that, I overcompensate for my lack of visibility to prove my work ethic to my manager and cohorts. How can I better manage my work and life while still being seen as a valuable contributor? —Mathias
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Transitioning to remote work can be a rewarding but challenging experience, especially when it comes to separating work and life. However, finding a healthy way to integrate the two is the biggest challenge. Here are some strategies to help you manage your work and life effectively while still making a positive impression as a remote employee.
- Schedule "me" time: Set boundaries by scheduling personal activities and downtime after work. This change of scenery can help you relax and recharge, making it easier to disconnect from work.
- Create a separate workspace: Designate a dedicated workspace in your home for work. Avoid common areas, such as the living room, to separate your work and personal life.
- Take breaks: Step away from your computer during lunch and take short breaks to rejuvenate. This can boost productivity and help you finish your workday on a high note.
- Be available: Leverage technology to signal your availability to co-workers. Use status indicators or messaging tools to let others know when you're online and accessible.
- Communicate effectively: Keep your manager and colleagues informed about your work progress. Offer assistance on ongoing projects and reach out to colleagues for collaboration and feedback. Full utilization of communication channels is critical to being visible in a remote-work environment.
- Meet deadlines: Consistently meet project deadlines and deliver high-quality work. Being reliable and timely in your tasks will demonstrate your dedication and value to the team.
- Collaborate: Stay open to your co-workers' ideas and be willing to brainstorm innovative approaches. Approach disagreements respectfully and professionally, fostering a collaborative and harmonious work environment.
Remember, remote-work success is not solely measured by the number of hours worked but by the quality of your contributions and your ability to maintain a healthy work/life integration. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage your work and life while still being seen as a valuable contributor to your team.