Leadership Anthropologist, Mentor, Coach & Business Consultant

Proactively helping business leaders engage, empower and grow!

A Present for Working at Home

This morning I was rereading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Full Catastrophe Living. It feels like so many of us are being thrust into the full catastrophe. Here is a little present from the introduction to the second edition:

Work at Home

“The only way we have of influencing the future is to own the present, however we find it. If we inhabit this moment with full awareness the next moment will be very different because of our very presence in this one. Then we just might find imaginative ways to fully live the life that is actually ours to live.

Can we experience joy and satisfaction as well as suffering? What about being more at home in our own skin within the maelstrom? What about tasting ease of well-being, even genuine happiness? This is what is at stake here. This is the gift of the present moment, held in awareness, non-judgmentally, with a little kindness.”

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Work at Home: Manage The Circle of Transitions

This post can be used by individuals to manage the transitions they experience with the change to working at home. If you are a leader/manager I encourage you to take time with your staff either individually or collectively to help them be mindful and to manage the challenging transitions that can accompany the movement from being at the office to working from home. Ensure you also do this for yourself.

As a leader, you don’t have to become a psychologist but you need to know that the single biggest failure of organizations around change is the failure to acknowledge who is losing what because of the change (William Bridges). Don’t fail to address the loses around the changes people are experiencing in their work due to COVID-19.

Debbie misses her morning order of dark coffee before arriving at work. She felt helpless when she told her three young children that the trip to Disney World was cancelled. And now, she was worried about her ability to get her job done knowing schools were closing for 3 weeks.

Ahmet missed the interactions with the people in his building – going to his basement in the morning failed to energize him the way the daily small interactions with the dozens of people in the office did. Working on Zoom and Skype really did not feel like the next best thing to being there.

Nancy assumed her job would be forever but now with all the stuff going on with the virus she wondered if she would even have a job after this was all over. It felt next to impossible to focus on the task at hand. Simple tasks were taking almost twice as long for her to complete.

Shin relied on the IT department to come to his desk to sort out his computer woes but now he was left staring as his machine and cursing because the off/on and plug/unplug didn’t fix his computer woes. He was worried about how the economic downturn would impact his retirement.

One of the challenges with the change from working outside your home to working inside your home is managing or at least being mindful of all the accompanying psychological transitions involved in these changes.

The master of transitions, Bridges (I love his last name for someone writing on change) said it was vital to know that transitions begin with endings, enter a middle or neutral zone, then end with beginnings.

Have you fully attended to what ended when you made the exodus from the office to home?

It is useful to take even 10 minutes to heighten your awareness of the transitions you are experiencing working from home. Use the Circle of Transition below to target in on your psychological experiences of change.

Circle of Transition

Step 1: Consider what roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions ended or were lost when you left the office. Some of us are out of kilter because our routines have changed while some of us miss the incidental daily relationships. Because this change was precipitated due to COVID-19 it may have shaken your assumptions about wellbeing at work. Or maybe, our role was clear at work but now our roles and functions are murky as we move forward. Of course, not all loses are negative and you may appreciate not encountering certain people each day. Perhaps you have also lost several meaningless tasks you were requested to do each day you were in the office.

Step 2: Now, focus for a second time on the circle of transitions. As you work at home what new roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions are being added to what you do. Are you developing new assumptions about how to work? Have you created rituals or routines to keep you engaged while away from the office? Are you developing new relationships with the other people in your neighborhood who also working from home?

Step 3: Don’t be surprised to find your engagement and productivity at home temporarily diminished because of all that ended and you feel like you are in a neutral zone unsure of what your work will be like in the next 2 weeks to 2 months. Of course, there are a great deal of individual differences and many people will find they are more engaged and productive working at home and hope they can maintain this working arrangement after the crisis ends.

Taking time and giving some thought to the transitions we are experiencing in this change can help us successfully navigate the turbulence we experience.

……

Do you want some temporary coaching/support/guidance to navigate the transition and to work from home successfully?

I am one of the world’s leading experts on employee experience and engagement, I taught counselling psychology for 25 years, was a workplace coach for Seagram/Diageo for 15 years, and I have personally worked from home for over 40 years.

Contact me today for 1 or 2 individual coaching sessions via phone, Zoom, or Skype. During this challenging time I am reducing my fee to $100 Canadian a session — under $75 US per session.

To get started email me at: david@davidzinger.com or phone 204 894 4483.

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How To Make It Better

Here is a small way to feel better while you work at home.

Never enter a room without making it better before you leave.

We Can Make It Better

I wander while I work at home. After an episode of work I may go upstairs or downstairs. I may poke my head into the garage or hover around the refrigerator. When I visit each room I do something before I exit to make it better. It could range from putting a glass in the sink or wiping a counter to throwing out the trash or organizing papers or engaging in an albeit brief positive interaction with Susan, my wife.

These are tiny actions but in this time of fear and isolation it gives me a small nudge of positive emotion and contribution each time I leave my desk and before I return to work.

I have extended this thinking to outside the house. When I enter a room full of people or visit with friends I determine how I can make it better for even just one person before I depart.

Acknowledgement, recognition, appreciation, listening, curiosity, laughter, conversation, and connection are powerful ways “to make a room better.”

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5 Zingers on How to Successfully Work From Home When You Have No Choice

Once there was an elephant

who tried to use the telephant —

No! No! I mean an elephone

Who tried to use the telephone —

~ Laura Elizabeth Richards

With the mass enforced exodus from the workplace to home due to the coronavirus there has been a plethora of articles extolling a tyranny of tips to teach neophytes how to show up for work when you are forced to work from home.

Many of these tips take the form of commandments to the newly minted home worker.

  1. Thou shalt shower and dress properly before starting your day.
  2. Thou shalt work only in a spot in your home dedicated to your work!

At 65 years of age, let me face the elephant in the room, or at least in the picture below an elephant in the River Kwai. I have worked out of my home for 40 years and have seen many changes in how I work. In addition, what works one day may not work the next so as opposed to cajoling commandments, I offer 5 invitations to entertain as you muddle thought the trials and tribulations of doing homework when you thought you had left it all behind after grade twelve.

Before you read the five invitations, here is my one real tip: If you ever face an elephant while standing downstream in the River Kwai and the elephant needs do an elephant size number 2, swim to the side and upstream as fast as possible.

Do it your way. The Buddha said be a lamp unto yourself and Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.” By all means read tips and articles and talk with others but primarily carve out your own path. Some of us love to do household chores between work tasks while others of us need to sequester in a small basement room with minimal noise and no family interaction. Don’t be surprised if your ways and means of work alter based on how you are that specific day, what is going on with anyone else living in the home (including the cat), and the nature of your task.

View this experience as an experiment. Perhaps when the crisis is over you will want to request more opportunities to work from home or you will know that you are meant to be in a bustling office with a cacophony of sounds and a myriad of incidental interactions. Be reflective about how your experience unfolds even if you capture yourself folding laundry when you desperately need to complete the quarterly projections. Stay curious and learn more about your own best ways of working.

Make memories. At one point during my career working from home, I had 3 children under two years of age inhabit the same place I worked (twins were born when our son was one). It was bat-shit crazy at times and the pablum on a report definitely diminished the report’s gravitas but today I have playful memories of the challenges and the time spent at home cemented a close relationship with my children.

Be mindful of your own engagement. To me engagement is caring. Take moments during the day to monitor how much you care about what you are doing. If you are full of care for your work, good— but if your caring is low be careful and don’t become careless. Good relationships can contribute to our caring so know that you may be on your own at home but you are not alone. Make good use of the plethora of tools to stay connected and supported with coworkers from email, text, and the phone to Skype, Zoom. and WhatsApp.

If you can laugh, you can last. Given this is a forced change know that things will go wrong. You may find yourself watching a game show at ten in the morning or you may find yourself with an appetite like an elephant knowing the fridge is just a few short steps away. If you work in your housecoat be sure it doesn’t suddenly fling open when you answer the door to sign for a package.

Please note that I inserted three elephants into this article and loosely referred to a bowel movement with the real elephant in the River Kwai. It wasn’t funny at the time but it brings a smile to my face now as I never knew how fast I could swim when fully motivated. Perhaps even if you feel you are sinking at times the necessity of working from home will help you to swim more powerfully into your work.

I am not prone to prayer but I like to start my working day with this modified serenity prayer composed by an anonymous woman named Jane N: “God grant me the laughter to see the past with perspective, face the future with hope, and celebrate today without taking myself too seriously.”

Perhaps before you return to the office you may discover, “there is no place like home.”

…….

Do you want some coaching/support/guidance on how to work at home? If you would like authentic and down to earth coaching directly with David Zinger, one of the world’s leading experts on employee experience and engagement, on how to work well at home I invited you to contact me for 1 or 2 individual coaching sessions via phone, Zoom, or Skype. During this challenging time I will reduce my fee to $100 Canadian a session — which is under $75 US per session. To get started email me: david@davidzinger.com.

Working from Home

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Employee Experience: Under Mental Construction

Employee experience is more than something that happens to you. You mentally construct your experience and this mental construction may be as, or even more, important than the experience itself.

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Happiness based on George Vaillant

Drift

The following quote from an article about the Harvard Grant study demonstrated authenticity and realness in happiness.

Only with patience and tenderness might a person surrender his barbed armor for a softer shield. Perhaps in this, I thought, lies the key to the good life—not rules to follow, nor problems to avoid, but an engaged humility, an earnest acceptance of life’s pains and promises. ”

by Joshua Wolf Shenk

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Word of Work #1: Steps

“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

Step Up to Work

When I was 4-years old living in Regina Saskatchewan and had nothing to do on sunny August days, my mother would hand me a can of water and a paint brush. With can and brush in hand I would paint our red wooden front steps. Before I got to the top step, the bottom step was already dry, so I would climb down the steps and start over, a four-year old version of Sisyphus. Yet, there was a childhood delight in seeing the dry red flakey steps glisten, albeit momentarily, when brushed with the cool water.

You see, I was a painter learning about the power of engagement.

The word of work for today is steps:

What are your steps at work?

Are you in step?

What is your next step? •

Are you ready, willing, and able to step up to your next challenge?

There are many steps we follow. We might use a 5-step method for serving customers and good teams synchronize their steps to create outcomes.

Let the word step seep into your sense of work today. Note the steps you are taking, reflect upon the steps you took yesterday, and ensure you take the vital step of moving from contemplation to action steps.

So, what’s your next step?

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Dawning of Career

A poetic nudge on your career development from John O’Donohue’s, A Morning Offering:

Dawn arrives at St. Vital Park in Winnipeg

May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today to live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

A Fine Collection of Work Cartoons by John Junson

Today at Work in Winnipeg, it is -50 celsius with windchill. 

Now that’s cold. To keep warm I have collected the best cartoons by John Junson from his Today at Work collection from 2018.

When we laugh, we indulge in a short humor break and boost to rejuvenate ourselves and maybe even keep us warm!

John has created over 600 cartoons on work for the Employee Experience and Engagement network. I encourage you to use his cartoons today in your work.

To view the collection visit: http://www.davidzinger.com/wp-content/uploads/Today-at-Work-2018.pdf

The Secret Power of Moments for Full Engagement

I believe one of the biggest barriers to full engagement in work is fear. Fear arrives in many forms. One form I am familiar with is procrastination. We put off. We delay. We think we lack good time management or tenacious willpower.

What we lack is a way to tackle the fear that surrounds being engaged and the answer resides in moments. The fear can range from the idea that even if we do our best it won’t be good enough to not even knowing how to do a task and afraid to ask for help.

We can often do in moments what we can’t do in grand plans, big strategies, and “smart” goals because moments shrink fear to something so small that we are no longer afraid.

Here is a simple equation to explain this:

Engagement = Moments > Fear

The next time you encounter personal disengagement and you believe fear is lurking behind the scenes I encourage you to remember this statement:

Moments shatter fear into tiny fragments that can easily be managed and overcome.

Take your next moment, separate it from the herd of endless time, and focus your work in that moment. When you start to string or stack together many moments you may even surprise yourself about what you can accomplish. The poet, William Blake, encourages us to see the world in a grain on sand…

Engage along with me, our best is yet to be.