“We are human beings, not human doings”
—The Dalai Lama
We’re now one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden shift to work-from-home (WFH) across-the-board. In the last year, as managers, we’ve all gotten lots of policy advice of what to “do” with very little advice on how to “be.”
For the “doing,” we’ve been inundated with multi-step programs involving many different kinds of advice. For example, a piece by the US Department of Commerce recommended the following:
In general, these recommendations are both widespread and good. Still, a year into this pandemic, we have learned that some recommendations have their own implications and nuances. Examples:
Still, there are opportunities. Practitioners of mindfulness often promote improvement by shifting our focus from what to “do” to a focus on how to “be.” A simple Google search on “mindfulness being versus doing” reveals some of this discussion.
In contemporary politics, this sentiment has been stated famously another way:
“I also think it’s important that we not drown people in minutiae before we’ve vindicated the values that animate our policies.” —Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary during his 2020 presidential campaign
Politics aside, the need to discuss values as the foundation of operating principles like those suggested by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to prevent any downsides from their nuances.
Be compassionate. Forced WFH has exposed differences in our family situations, housing situations, and access to technology. It has also changed the context in which people are accustomed to both doing their work and living their lives. All of this has affected us in different ways, and implementation of some policies has put more strain on some than others. One size does not fit all.
In our work, there are opportunities to show care, respect, and compassion for differences in people and their work styles. For example, if we know that a team member prefers to meet after 5:00pm, maybe 1 out of 3 meetings, we can meet after 5:00pm to show not only that we understand them and their needs but also to encourage and support their work efforts.
Be trustworthy. Part of trust is understanding the mix of how forced WFH has blended our work and life situations together, prompting heightened levels of transparency for everyone involved. To be most effective, teams should share insights on work preferences and styles by sharing more than just free/busy time. Shared vernacular and common experience allows for deeper discussion, which helps us feel more connected to our teams. The flip side of the coin is to recognize that we have to trust to be trustworthy and employers should resist any temptations to taking a “big brother” approach to remote work.
Be evidence-based. The world is changing. Given the rate of change, there will be an advantage to basing decisions on evidence over conjecture. Evidence continues to mount over many “softer” issues, which more hard-lined managers must be aware of. Diversity, loneliness, burnout, are all examples of issues that evidence is driving business leaders to address now more than ever. All the insights, coaching, and information that we bake into our product is grounded in science and data from reliable sources. Our aim is to help our users leverage this data to gain more energy and achieve better balance at work and in life.
Be daring. We’re not talking about being a daredevil but rather in having the courage to be boldly unconventional. We only get there by having some individuals chart the path to new practices beyond traditional productivity tools and “hacks.” Individuals will lead the way by trying new things - maybe silent meetings or maybe something else. However, we won’t get there without some people out on the edge. We invite those of us who want to be daring to think of work-life in a brand new way.
We hope you can see how these values influence our company, our remote work practices, and our product. We invite you to share your thoughts with us!