- Working from home and navigating a global pandemic can be challenging.
- Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, shared his best advice on leadership and managing the challenges of remote work at the Project Management Institute's Together We Rise Summit last week.
- Noah said he's been able to work through the pandemic by creating a designated workspace in his home, trusting his team, maintaining perspective, and staying calm through the unexpected obstacles.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus has brought unique challenges for many. But Trevor Noah thinks the pandemic can also be an opportunity to reinvent yourself and the way you approach your work.
"It's not often you get the opportunity to completely revamp what you do," the comedian said as keynote speaker at the Project Management Institute's Together We Rise summit. "We can actually emerge from these things with the ability to heal to a better place."
Noah is perhaps best known for his role as host of "The Daily Show," Comedy Central's Emmy-nominated satirical news program. But he's also hosted two seasons of his own late-night talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah, released nine comedy specials, and even authored a New York Times bestseller, "Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood." In 2018, Noah launched his own nonprofit geared toward helping underserved youth in South Africa.
While you might not expect professional advice from a TV comedian, Noah knows a thing or two about work, leadership, and managing large-scale projects. And while leading various teams through remote working since the onset of the pandemic, he's relied on a few key pieces of wisdom.
Noah shared how he's navigating the new reality of pandemic-era work at the PMI summit. Here were some of his most crucial pieces of advice.
Create a designated workspace
If you're working from home right now, it can be tempting to tackle your tasks from your bed or kitchen counter, but that can be counterproductive for your workflow.
"Initially that seems like fun – 'oh, I can work from anywhere' – but if you're not careful, your work can become everywhere," Noah said.
Noah designated a corner of his New York City home specifically for completing work, and several of his staff writers did the same. For Noah, setting aside a specific workspace in his home was all about "learning to design a physical balance that becomes a mental balance."
In other words, setting aside a space to work allowed him to set clear boundaries between home and work life.
Trust your team
Noah said that learning to trust his teams has been an important skill during the pandemic. As his colleagues and staff spread across the country, it became harder to monitor every aspect of a project as closely as he would have normally. Noah's nonprofit, The Trevor Noah Foundation, is also based out of South Africa, which means that Noah leaves much of the foundation's operations to a local team.
The pandemic has made it nearly impossible to micromanage every team project – so it's important to trust your team and have faith that they will get the job done.
"When I'm not in the same space, I have to trust every single person who's putting this project together," Noah said.
Keep a sense of perspective
"I wake up every day telling myself, 'this could be the day that I get fired,'" Noah said.
The reminder is not meant to create a sense of panic. Instead, Noah said that it makes him grateful that he is not and reminds him to work hard to avoid getting fired.
But it also allows him to keep a sense of purpose in his work and contemplate the reason he does his line of work. "It makes me ask myself another question: what else would I be doing?"
That way, Noah stays not only grounded in gratitude for his current role, but also constantly maintains a driving sense of purpose in his work and the mental freedom of considering other roles.
It can be hard to maintain a cool head and carry on with work as usual when so much has been upended by a pandemic. There will be unforeseen obstacles along the way, whether in the form of a faulty Zoom connection or an emergency at home.
And though it may seem counterintuitive, the most unexpected challenges are usually the ones that require the most calm. "In chaos, that's generally where I become my most calm," Noah said.
Noah has been able to rely on his naturally calm demeanor during difficult situations and instruct his team to do the same, rather than get swept up in emotion.
"There are so many moments working in this new manner where panic is going to be the default," Noah said. "I've just focused on being calm."
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