• Francesca Concina

Diana N. Pereira: Healthy Remote Working & Workplace

Since Remote Working entered in our life, it changed completely our life routine. We were not ready for a sudden unexpected change, so our behavior, our physical and psychological reaction was most of the time moved by anxiety, stress, and aggressive communication. Instead of appreciating the freedom of scheduling our time, we became “Zoom meeting” machines. As reported by Forbes[1], a new study from Okta, talking about burnout and Zoom fatigue, after 6 months of remote working: workers are feeling the pressure to perform and in turn, working longer hours. More people are working outside of the normal 9 to 5 workday.


· Having no commute or daycare drop off means more early-morning productivity.

· Employees are signing on earlier and earlier, with a 26% increase from pre-COVID logins occurring at 4 a.m., 23% at 5 a.m. and 22% at 6 a.m.

· There’s a drop in logins in the afternoon, from about 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., which the study team “speculated” is time to address family and other responsibilities.

The findings noted an increase in logins later into the night, with a 30% increase from pre-COVID logins at 1 a.m. and 34% increase at 2 a.m


We ask Diana Neto Pereira: Is this behavior really productive? What should a leader do help employees to better understand what is a healthy performing life-working balance?


In 2020 we are all facing a new reality, adaptation is the word of the day. For businesses in particular this may be challenging, if we were already facing difficulties in having flowing communication across teams, management and even different departments, how can this be improved when personal interaction is replaced with endless zoom meetings? Do we need to create new ways of being with the people we work with? Yes and no. Creating new means maybe but ultimately, interpersonal connection and communication, what make people feel heard, belonging, motivated did not change. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel just find ways to make it continue rolling.


To my point of view, this reality change has created a major impact for 2 main reasons:


1 – The short interactions with colleagues in the Kitchen, Halls, Cigarette breaks etc don’t happen anymore. The casual conversations resulting from random encounters that help us have a sense of belonging and really connecting with the ones we work with, that sometimes even give us the space to let go of stress with someone that understands what we are going through by being in the same context are now turned into rants with our pets, kids, partners at home.


2 – How do we measure productivity without Micromanaging or adding pressure to ourselves and others?



The answer is simple, Communication. Simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy to achieve, it requires a shift in the understanding of productivity and connection. But simple actions can be taken in order to support this.


Take as example big successful companies who have already been working with this set up for a long time such as WordPress. One of the key advices shared by Matt Mullenweg in his TED talk about “why working from home is good for businesses” is to clearly leave a trail of the decisions made throughout the day, may this be with Project Management tools such Asana (or any other way that is more appropriate to your business/work). With this, Managers won’t feel the need to Micro-manage to guarantee the productivity of their team, and employees won’t feel pressured to “show something” to have their productivity validated. How many times have we neglected certain projects because it is harder to “show” and “measure” results and gave preference to any other tasks that our managers can easily “see”? Salespeople will often write e-mails to clients not because it’s the most effective way to reach their goal, but because you can’t CC your boss on those phone calls!


Communicate!


Managers should allocate time to discuss the new ways of working with their employees, “How can I help you feel more productive? How can you help me feel secure in your productivity without having to micro-manage you?” Be open to discuss this and come up with new solutions that are suitable for both, vertically and across teams.

Create specific, even if “small” goals per day/week and have their achievement communicated in a tool accessible to others, this will allow all team players to feel that work is progressing and that everyone is on track with the developments.


As per the casual conversations, make sure to schedule them in your daily routine. If you have a colleague you use to go for coffee or cigarette before the home office time, make sure to schedule that time and still have that break “together”. Allow the informal conversations to still exist. As managers, allocate time to talk with your employees about how they are feeling working from home and support them through that.


Organize online gatherings as you would in the office, facilitate the informal conversations that are just as important for employees to feel engaged. You can’t “feel” the energy in the office, so you’ll have to be more open to talking openly about those subjects, being a good leader means being good at taking care of your people, so they take good care of their work. Like Richard Branson said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.


As from a Coach perspective, it is important that conversations outside “communicating tasks” exist to guarantee that there are no misinterpretations or judgments about a certain email with one exclamation point too much, a decision that was taken and had people left unheard and without the space to communicate their true feelings about it. This may boil up and end up in a complete demotivation.


As in the “Three Laws of Performance” book, written by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, two

transformational Coaches that create higher productivity, growth and profits by improving motivation and employee satisfaction, it is important to understand how situations occur for each individual.


If you don’t have body language how can you tell if someone is upset, disappointed, demotivated, feeling left out? We now have to be more prepared and open to have really vulnerable communication and vulnerability is the biggest Human connection struggle. Coaching inside businesses is the key to unlock this door, keep your people engaged and motivated and you’ll keep your business growing.


Diana Neto Pereira, Transformational Coaching with years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing and Communication on an international level, and a great passion for working with people will answer questions LIVE on the 2nd October about:

- Healthy communication in the remote workplace

- How to negotiate in a profitable way

- How to prevent the burnout and zoom stress, as a leader who want to keep high the level of energy and positivity of his/her team


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Image from: Bavel, J.J.V., Baicker, K., Boggio, P.S. et al. Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nat Hum Behav 4, 460–471 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/08/09/4-common-mistakes-to-avoid-when-remote-working-and-how-to-correct-them/#dc7635778925

Image from: Bavel, J.J.V., Baicker, K., Boggio, P.S. et al. Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nat Hum Behav 4, 460–471 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z

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