Building Resilience at Work: 5 Tips for Moving Ahead

Career DevelopmentSuccess Strategies
Building resilience at work is one of those "simple but difficult" conundrums. It's no mystery as to what works...but commitment can be tough.

Building resilience in challenging times can be difficult, to say the least. The tumult of the past 18 months has taught us that we need to be flexible when it comes to unexpected events. The world of work has changed drastically and it’s critical that we all adjust to new realities.

Interestingly, many of the changes we’ve experienced had been forecast by experts on the future of work. The Covid-19 pandemic merely accelerated events that had already been set in motion.

The nature of work will continue to change due to the recent move to remote work. Add in technological innovations and cultural developments, and resilience has never been more important to overcoming challenges at work.

What resilience looks like can be very different depending on where you are in your career and the industry you work in. However, there are key tips for remaining resilient that anyone can apply to their career.

1. Treat every crisis as an opportunity for building resilience.

As much as we would like our work lives to run smoothly 100% of the time, this is rarely the case. Conflict frequently arises from communication issues, last-minute changes to a plan, or rejection. It can be fatiguing and incredibly stressful.

However, these moments provide opportunities for us to reflect inward, learn, and grow. Building resilience requires that we learn from the situations we encounter.

Failure should not be a scary word. Failure is a fact of life. No one goes through life without experiencing it. By allowing yourself to fail and reflecting on the lessons learned from that failure, you can avoid making the same mistakes twice.

2. Building resilience requires a support network.

One of the greatest challenges affecting people nowadays is loneliness and isolation. This was a serious issue even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s getting worse.

As author, conference speaker, and economist Noreena Hertz argues in her book The Lonely Century, the loneliness crisis is wreaking havoc on our health.

Many of the issues Hertz explores in her book require a systemic change to dismantle. However, there are individual steps we can take to boost our support network.

Moving the needle can be as simple as reaching out to colleagues and checking in with them about how they are feeling at work. Very often, the best way to feel supported is to begin supporting others. This sort of initiative helps build community.

3. Stay realistic.

We all set targets for ourselves…and we should! Working toward a goal is critically important to one’s career.

However, when we are trying to reach a goal we often take too much on at one time. Being realistic about your work capacity can help avoid feelings of stress and burnout. In the long run, feeling like you’re doing way too much makes career progress less rewarding. Building resilience means being careful not to bite off more than you can reasonably chew.

4. Stay organized.

It can be difficult to maintain a sense of order, especially in the modern workplace where tasks stack up at once. This is why remaining organized is vital for building resilience.

The lion’s share of building resilience is consistently fighting back against feelings of stress. A huge part of fighting back against feelings of stress is avoiding chaos.

It’s true that unexpected problems may always be waiting around the corner. However, being generally well prepared can make the unexpected significantly less challenging to deal with. Maintaining an organized inbox, labeling important files, saving emails with key information — these simple actions can, further down the line, mitigate any tumult that arises from a sudden crisis.

5. Breathe…and take time for yourself.

Many experts on the future of work were predicting the rise of working from home even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. What few people predicted, however, is the fact that a significant number of people are now working longer hours as a result of this change.

This is perhaps not that surprising, really. Even when we switch off for the day, our personal devices are still connected to our work email or Slack. This makes it challenging to fully disengage. Building resilience demands that we set — and maintain — a healthy work/life balance.

However, taking time for yourself is one key to approaching your work with vigor and motivation. Logging off in the evening and establishing clear boundaries can completely transform your working life. We’ve all heard the expression “Work to live…don’t live to work.” While this saying may be somewhat cliche, it’s something that even the most ambitious should heed.