Smart Work Story With Self-Love & Communication Coach Hayley Pocock
Hayley is a Toronto based self-love and communication coach, and an essential worker for schools, hospitals and facilities across the city where she aids children and adults with mental health diagnosis navigate their everyday lives. Over the last ten years, Hayley has worked closely with at-risk youth dealing with behavioural conditions, and in 2019 she joined The Centre for Applied Neuroscience's Life Coaching program to expand her well-known talents in personal development and communication. She works with clients in a one-to-one capacity to assess and develop healthy self-communication techniques and elevate self-confidence while improving limiting belief systems for individuals interested in cultivating healthier relationships with themselves. While remote work isn't new to her, the relationship creation side of her role as a youth worker and life coach give us insight on how personal bonds are impacted when in-person communication is limited.
How has work changed for you in the last year?
Parts of my work have always been remote, but I'm also required to interact with clients (both in and outside of coaching) in a face-to-face capacity. I used to meet these clients in private spaces, like a designated room in their condo building or a place where we could have meetings with limited interruptions. Since we no can no longer to do that, I meet many of them in some virtual capacity, but there's a lot to be said about having someone in front of you when it comes to things like body language and energy. I would even say that meeting in-person can actually enhance or expedite a connection between people. When I’m connecting to a client virtually, there can be lags in communication or a wifi interruption. These things can really interfere with building a personal and sensitive connection, which is really the most valuable part of what I do and what my clients need from me.
What have your colleagues or leadership come to learn about you as a remote worker that they otherwise may not have known?
I think they’ve learned that I adapt very well, because I’m definitely happier having more freedom and control over my schedule. I feel like that's translated positively over to the work I do with clients.
How do you stay motivated to do your best work?
I’m lucky enough to have a great support system of people around me. These people aren't necessarily direct supervisors, but people in my community that I can touch base with, so I never feel a lack of support and that really helps me stay motivated. As someone who's been working more independently over the last year, I’ve also been wanting that independence for so long. I've been wanting not to have a supervisor, so I guess I've always wanted to be my own go-to person, especially since a majority of the work I do requires me to represent myself.
How do you balance work life with the rest of your life?
That’s actually something that I support clients with! I’m always striving to do that for myself by way of example, so helping others see that they can have it all is a big part of my job and it’s very challenging. The use of a schedule and calendar is the first thing that comes to mind. Just knowing what time is for me and what time is for work and when necessary, actually scheduling more time with myself is something I've been making a conscious effort with. I’m very social and live by myself, so I try to create a distinction between social time and the time I need for me.
Is there a book or podcast you would recommend to people in the working world, or in your field, who might be looking for motivation or encouragement?
Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert, it’s especially powerful for people who are looking for ways to adapt, refocus and lean more into their passions and creative interests, or get brave about doing the thing that’s been sitting on the back burner.
What do you love about working remotely and what’s most challenging?
I create and dictate my schedule completely, so when I want to work really really hard for a few days, I do. And then I can take some time to chill out. I like that there’s no specific deadlines that aren’t created by me and that my priorities consider everything else that may be important to me.
I love being in my own space, which goes back to being independent in all the work that I do, and enjoying the freedom to be myself without someone else telling me what’s right or wrong about my work methods.
I think what I love most is that I’ve had the chance to redefine what it means to be a professional, but on the other hand, I do also love to work with people face-to-face, especially as a coach. I find it valuable to have someone in front of me, not just because it’s a better way to communicate in my field, but for the longevity of our working relationship. Even though I’ve been able to pivot to online sessions, I would really rather still meet my local clients in person in a safe space.
What personal strengths have you found yourself tapping into with all the changes you’ve experienced in the last year?
Flexibility, time management, accountability and compassion. Holding myself accountable to the things that are important for me and the people I've committed to is big. Compassion is also something I've been tapping into a lot - with so many of us in the same boat it only makes sense that we show more compassion to how people are operating in this new working world.
What does mindfulness mean to you in the age of remote work?
I think not having the workspace and home space separate can take a toll, so it's important to slow down and find moments in the day to take a breath and check in with myself. I take for granted how powerful it is to just pause.
When you think back to that period of time where you spent your working days at an office, and then you fast forward to now, what differences do you notice in your working style?
I notice that I have a lot more time than I thought I did. I don’t feel the same rush that I felt in the 9-5 workspace or some of the various spaces I’ve worked in as a mental health professional.
Time isn't running out and things don't need to be done overnight. I feel like I can really tap into how slow and patient you need to be when you approach the kind of work I do with people, and I personally like the feeling of not being in that constant state of rush. I find value in not bringing that into the work I do with anyone anymore.
How do you establish trust with managers, collaborators and clients when working remotely?
Checking in with clients, even outside of scheduled calls and meetings is important. A quick email or text depending on the relationship I have with someone has become a regular method of follow-up for me. There's also the importance of being present. On zoom meetings or conference calls, making sure my phone is put away and that distractions are minimal, like being mindful of how many tabs I have open. We can't really turn off our cameras during a zoom meeting when this is how we're establishing relationships now - but we can still show up and be present, even in an online space, and we can also continue to seek clarification through the tools we have (email, etc), so that we're feeling supported and not alone in this new world.
How do you make smart work?
The first thing that comes to mind for me is, make sure you do something you like...a lot. Work is smart when you're having fun and when your heart is in it. Work is also smart and fun when you're taking care of yourself (outside of work).
Smart work should feel good, so I come up with a recipe for what feels good and allows me to show up every day. I also experiment to figure out what will help me make smart work consistently - is it a schedule, calendar, or do I need to make sure I'm taking breaks, or reaching out for help, or figuring out whether I need to debrief with a friend to find clarity? I check-in with myself regularly.