The Intelligent Workplace

Education Series

Time to check in on your employees well-being.

As a result of Covid-19, companies the world over have adopted remote working models for their employees. Anecdotally, results have been mixed. Some employees love the flexibility, others crave human interaction. Companies are being forced to “let go” some of their controls with he new model. But, some are reporting that employee productivity levels remain high, and in some cases have even increased.
How are your employees faring? When was the last time you checked in on them?
We are hearing rumblings of a wave of mental health issues that may cause greater harm than the pandemic itself, but time will tell. In this episode, mindfulness expert, Nina Purewal and founder of the LiveSmiles movement, Peter Nguyen-Brown join me. We discuss the potential mental health issues that are on the horizon, what we can do to support employees through them, and what part technology has to play in the solution.

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Chris:                     Hi, good morning everybody. Apologies. First up for moment, we are having a few little technical issues with one of our guests from Canada, Nina. We’re going to try and work through those as best we can. But for now, you have these two older uglier looking heads on the screen here for the moment. So we will get started and hopefully, we can sort that out as we move in. So welcome to the webinar for today.

Yeah, look, I’m not sure about all of you, but it feels like it’s getting a little bit old, the way that we’re being told that these are unprecedented times or that we’re all in this together or that every business on the face of the earth is here to help us now.

It’s really, really nice to know that we had the support of everybody globally, but after a few months of this, I feel like people are starting to … it’s wearing a little bit thin and I’m wondering whether it might be your employees are also feeling the same way. And the question I’ll go for you today is, have you checked in on them lately? And a great segue to say that maybe now, it is a great time to do that. So that’s the topic of today’s webinar.

So I’ll do some quick introductions. So as usual, you have myself, Chris Lukianenko, host of The Intelligent Workplace podcast. Joining me today is Nina Purewal. So she’s someone who I feel very comfortable talking about these topics with even though we’ve never actually met face to face. She’s an amazing woman and if you want to know her backstory, you can check out her book.

It’s called Let That Shit Go or you can even listen to the interview that I did with her on our Intelligent Workplace podcast. So welcome, Nina. She probably can’t say anything right now because she’s still working through the technical issues, but we will get back to her, I promise. And then next up we have LiveTiles co-founder Peter Nguyen-Brown.

He took some time out a few years ago to take a bit of a deep dive into happiness, which led him to a little bit of a wellbeing mission, both inside and outside of LiveTiles. And I’ll get pushed to tell us a little bit about that story. But for now, welcome aboard, Pete.

Peter:                   Morning, Chris. Hello everyone.

Chris:                     Everything’s working great from Peter and that’s fantastic. Okay. So I say this every week, but if you’ve been with us previously, which I can see a few names that look familiar, this is a lot of tasks. So we’re a global company specializing in employee collaboration and communication software services and AI for the workplace. And we are rooted all around the globe, everybody working from home these days. So what are we going to talk about today?

Well, once again, this is a conversation and not death by PowerPoint. So we’ll do our best to answer your questions along the way if you have them. So you can use the app to ask a question and I’ll fill those for you and pass them on to Eric, who’s here today. But what we’ll be going through is we’re going to talk a little bit about the backstories of my two guests here today.

We’re going to talk about the mental health challenge that we’re currently facing as a result of the Coronavirus. In response that, Nina is going to give us some tips for finding calm during times of chaos. Well, they’re going to have a bit of a chat about the LiveSmiles movement and what that’s up to and then talk about some technology that we’re developing that can help you with that whole idea of checking in with your staff.

And then we’ll talk about what’s next and then finish off with a bit of a breathing exercise. It something a little bit different, but we’re doing tonight it. So trying to hear some backstories. Now, I’m hoping that Nina  … I’ll see if I can unmute her. Maybe she can unmute herself, but-

Nina:                     Yeah.

Chris:                     Well, excellent. We’re good. So look, there are a few reasons that I asked my guests to be a part of this webinar today. They’ve both got really interesting backstories to how they found themselves to really dive deeper into the world of wellbeing, mindfulness, the search for happiness. So I’ll get them to give you a bit of a quick overview of their backstory. So, Nina, hopefully, this is working for you and you can give us yours first.

Nina:                     Yeah, sure. So my backstory is … Well, it starts off not so happy. When I was 16, I went through a pretty significant tragedy and I lost my dad and my brother and that’s where my whole mindfulness, meditation, spiritual journey began at 16. And I had various therapists and counselors, but it was just the one thing that always kept me grounded.

So I continued life as normally as I could, went to high school and got my business degree and had a great career in sales and marketing, worked on many global brands. And then in 2010, hit a peak point in my career just due to the corporate grind and decided to do something very drastic. I left my career and went and moved to California and studied spirituality and mindfulness and meditation for an entire year, completely unplugged, got rid of the addiction to my email.

And came back, worked in corporate for a little longer, and then decided that I really wanted to combine my experience in corporate and also the learnings I had on mindfulness and meditation and how to really find that calm in all the chaos. So with that, I started my own business and I now do mindfulness workshops for numerous companies, and recently launched a book, which is now a bestseller, which is great. With a coauthor-

Chris:                     Congratulations.

Nina:                     Yeah, thank you. With my co-author, Kate, who also founded a company in mental health, and we are just continuing to spread the word and trying to keep everyone calm and peaceful in this crazy time.

Chris:                     Can I ask you a quick question, which was harder? Having to leave all of your devices behind on your journey or having to homeschool your children now?

Nina:                     Definitely, homeschool. No question.

Chris:                     Oh, wow. I hear you. And Pete, can you give us a bit of your backstory, please?

Peter:                   Yeah, sure. And so I’ve been, I guess, running businesses for about 18 years since I was 25. So along that journey, I’ve seen a lot of different things and a bunch of different experiences. Prior to that, I’d studied software engineering, so I come pretty much from a tech background. But as my life progressed, the reason for being in purpose has become more obvious in recent years in particular.

I’ll tell a bit more about that later on. But really, I’ve got a huge responsibility with a team of 200 people across the globe. And whether it was 2000 or 20 people doesn’t really matter. We all have a responsibility to support, to look after each other and learn a few things on the way and learn a lot from people like Nina as well. So good to be here, Chris.

Chris:                     Yeah. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for joining us. I’ve got to say, Pete’s one of the most amazing blacks I’ve met in terms of my business career, someone who is so busy and into so many things and still finds time during his busy day to talk to everybody. And it really does make a difference, especially during these times. Not that I’m sucking up. Let’s move it on. So let’s have a bit of a chat about the mental health.

Look, I don’t need to quote any statistics to you all today to help you understand the fact that we have got serious mental health problems in society and that they are on the increase and all signs point to COVID 19 being the cause of it. It may be another wave of issues that we are yet to deal with. On the screen here, this is Simone. She looks like a really happy girl, lucky person who … it looks like she’s got it all together, but put the camera away from her and what is she really like?

And I’ll put it to you, Pete. This is a big issue for businesses who have staff who are working from their kitchens or their bedrooms or the laundry rooms right now. You only see Simone when she wants you to and it’s very easy to put on a brave face, put on some nice clothes, do your hair, all that sort of thing and have almost two personas. You’ve got one on the camera and one off the camera. Is it a real challenge in your opinion? And what are the challenges we’re facing right now with this whole work-from-home thing?

Peter:                   Yeah, it is. And I think it’s … over the last few weeks in particular, it’s been pretty well documented in a lot of different ways. I’m sure people read and experienced different things over the last few weeks, but had to deal with this and what things we can do. I think in times like this, wellbeing issues are accelerating by virtue of the fact we are isolated.

I think this is … all the data will back that up, which also means that we need to accelerate our well-being initiatives as businesses and as people. And for a lot of companies, that’s a bigger challenge than for others. And again, I’ll tell a bit more about our wellbeing movement called LiveSmiles shortly. But wellbeing is not necessarily an intrinsic part of the workplace in many organizations, even though there are attempts and people are trying.

So that’s a challenge. How do we actually accelerate the wellbeing initiatives? And then the fact is we’re going to have employers and employees alike. I think also, the way people are used to checking in with each other is typically triggered by seeing somebody in the office and say, “Hello,” and, “How was your week?” And, “How are you feeling?” Or a phone call. A lot of people will struggle to do the things that are instinctive to them because those triggers aren’t happening.

And so that to me is a big thing because it’s going to be a shift in our behavioral patterns that are mental patterns. And that also takes constant reminding to each other and ourselves to do the things that we used to do face to face. We now need to do it in a slightly different way. So that’s a challenge I think behaviorally. And I think ultimately, we have never had a greater responsibility to the wellbeing of each other and ourselves ever before.

It’s actually as difficult at home as it is. I’m still optimistic about how this crisis will actually make us better as a society and as people and through the process, despite it’s going to create challenges in the short term. So, yeah. It’s real and we need to react very, very quickly.

Chris:                     I’ll take your point around the whole … the water cooler chats don’t happen anymore and I started off during this whole process of feeling funny about contacting someone who I would just literally have a chat next to my desk in the office previously. Now, I’ve got to almost schedule some time to talk to them. But on the flip side, I find that maybe when I do schedule that time to talk to them, it’s meaningful and we’re really having a great conversation.

It’s not quite so casual, but it’s really meaningful now. It’s a bit of ying and yang with that situation. So I’m with you. I’m hopeful that the changes that we’re seeing, the way we work now will make things better. Absolutely. But thanks for the background on that. Now, I want to bring Nina in now. She’s on the screen in a beautiful two-tone pink and purple colored [inaudible 00:10:50] and … yes. And obviously, we’re hearing this every day.

The world’s in a casserole, trying to find our way through it and I know it’s difficult. It is a bit of a new normal. And so I wanted to get Nina to offer up some pieces of advice from her own personal journey and how we can help others get through this in an okay manner. So, Nina, I’ve got your tips here on the screen. I’d just like you to talk to them through for me if you could please. So awareness.

Nina:                     Yeah, sure. So sorry guys. I’ve been playing around with my computer and my phone. I don’t know why the screen is not working, but it is what it is.

Chris:                     Well, you are on the screen right now, anyway. Look at that.

Nina:                     I’m on the screen. There you go. So awareness is the first step. And we talk about this a lot in the book, but essentially, what I mean when I say awareness is awareness of the thoughts that are going on in our mind. So we think between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day and that averages out to 35 to 42 thoughts a minute. So our mind is constantly going and we’re actually aware of less than 1% of them. Okay?

We’re constantly going down a rabbit hole with our thoughts and we’re unaware of what’s happening. So the first step … and there’s lots of different techniques on how to do this, is just to be aware of what is swirling in your mind. And doing that gets you … gives you a little bit of space between all the thoughts that come through and all the stress that that induces.

And when the thoughts come up and you’re aware of it, you can put it in a bit of a category and say, “Okay, now, I’m stressing about this,” and give it a little space versus getting completely engrossed in those thoughts that are constantly swirling. So I’d say awareness of your thoughts. And it’s like a muscle. The more that you practice this, the more you’re going to be able to leverage it.

But awareness of your thoughts is really, really key because a lot of us, again, we’re thinking … studies show that 99% of our thoughts, we’re not even aware of. So once we become aware of them, we can do something about it. The second one is around media. Especially in this time right now, one of the biggest pieces of advice that I’ve been getting is limit your media intake because this is really a key contributor to stress.

People are checking their phones the first thing they wake up in the morning. They’re checking CNN or whatever it is, either before they go to bed at night, BBC. And so what you can do is just keep informed. I’m not saying completely be oblivious to what’s going on. Keep informed with the facts and the data that you need, but don’t inundate yourself with all the media frenzy that’s going on right now, especially before bedtime perhaps.

What I’ve been doing recently is I’ve been keeping my phone downstairs before I go to bed upstairs, so my last 15 minutes before bed is quiet time. And when I wake up to you, I’m not tempted to grab my phone. I meditate [inaudible 00:13:38] or I have some time to myself in my own head. Because the minute you start checking your phone, you’re just already in the outside world. So media is the second thing. The third thing is acceptance.

So there’s a whole chapter in the book around acceptance and essentially, the crux of it is categorizing everything in your life in what you can control and what you can’t control. Because so much of our life, especially right now, we cannot control. And when we recognize this, a lot of that 50 to 70,000 thoughts that are going on a day are things that we cannot control.

And what this does is when we stew or ruminate about things that we can’t control, it just adds to our stress and it is an energy suck because it’s not something we can do anything about. So especially in this situation with everything going on right now, there’s a lot that is out of our hands and when we recognize that a thought is coming up and it’s about something we can’t control, like a word quarantine right now, then we can put it in that bucket and let it go.

Versus do you want it? And try to figure out how to fix what we can’t control. And if you can control it, by all means, make all the changes that you can to have influence, to have impact. But if you can’t control it, then just put it in that bucket and let it go. When I studied in California, one of my teachers categorized thinking about things we can’t control as dead thoughts. They’re not going to propel you forward in any way.

They’re not going to drive your efficiency, your focus. So just let it go. The fourth thing is feel it. And there’s a saying that’s been going around, feel it to heal it. And I think right now, there are so many emotions going on with people and their work and their families and with everything going on, there’s lots of stuff coming up for people.

And if I can just expand on that specifically for a second, when I studied in college before that and I did unplug, one of the biggest learnings for me was that when I don’t have any distractions, I don’t have my phone or email or Netflix or people to call, shit comes up. Stuff comes up for you. And that is a mini version of what’s happening right now. People can’t go out and meet friends. They can’t watch sports.

They can’t do all the … play sports and do all the things that they used to. So stuff that might be rooted deep in there is coming up. So feel it. Honor it. Kate and I are huge advocates of … mindfulness isn’t just about having a quiet mind. You need to feel it. You need to go through the motions. You need to understand everything that you are being faced with in order to let it go. Otherwise, you’re just suppressing.

So the fourth tip is just to feel it and honor everything that is coming up for you. If you need to have a good cry or write in a journal or talk to someone or vent, whatever it is, do it. The fifth one is all about judgment, and not having any judgment towards yourself around being the best employee, being the best homeschooling parent.

Everybody’s trying to balance this whole working from home. Homeschooling, cooking more of the snacks thing I hear is driving every parent crazy, kids asking for snacks every five minutes.

Chris:                     I’m here in it.

Nina:                     Yeah. And so just have no judgment around … don’t judge yourself if you couldn’t get to that homeschool lesson today or you were planning on working for seven hours and you worked for five hours, or if you need to take a break of the day to go for a walk. Self-judgment can be really self-deprecating and it can really take away from your focus and your efficiency, same as guilt, self-guilt.

So just when you feel like doing something different or getting out of your routine or whatnot, and then don’t judge yourself about anything going on right now. Don’t feel like a bad employee. Don’t feel like a bad mom. You got to just do your best and keep moving forward. So that’s number five. Number six is schedule and being in a state of flow. So having a schedule, I found, a lot of people are finding really helpful.

I know the first two weeks of quarantine were just a shit show in our house. It was like trying to homeschool, trying to work. Everything was all over the place. And it was like, I’m trying to homeschool and I’m checking my emails at the same time. And then after about two weeks when we realized, “Okay, this is actually going to be here for a month-plus. Let’s make a schedule.” So we put a schedule on the fridge and now every day, we know what’s happening. My daughter knows when she’s getting homeschooled.

We know when we’re having meals. We also know … I know when I get to spend a good chunk of time on my business versus trying to do everything all at once. And what this does as well is it allows you to compartmentalize because when you can compartmentalize what you were doing, you can drive, again focus and efficiency because you don’t want to be thinking of homeschool and think about work and then trying to respond to an email when your kid are asking you a question.

Try to have a schedule around what you’re doing. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you have a bit of a schedule, then at least you won’t feel so scattered throughout your day. That being said, I also think it’s important to be in a state of flow and there’s a lot of yoga practitioners that are talking about this now. Just listening to your body, listening to your mind.

If you have a home workout routine and you’ve done it five days in a row and you don’t feel like doing it the sixth day, listen to your body. It’s okay. So be in a state of flow. And again, don’t feel any guilt around that. So that’s number six, is have a schedule but also be in a state of flow.

Number seven is perspective and gratitude. And so perspective, again, it’s a whole chapter in the book, but this is all about … we talk about looking at life going from a micro perspective, which is what we’re so used to. We get up in the morning, we’re in our own little bubble, we’re behind on our email, we got to find matching socks, but we don’t really have to find matching socks now. But there’s a million things that are on our minds when we wake up, right?

You got to homeschool. And so one thing that you can do is go from macro … micro, sorry … to macro. So try to look at life from the big picture, making sure you’re pausing to just appreciate all the things that are going right right now. I know there’s a lot of things that people are finding challenging, but what is going on in your life that is going right? Maybe it’s that everybody in your family is healthy.

Maybe it’s that you have an amazing company where you can work from home and everybody’s easy to get along with there. There’s just so many things to be grateful for if you really focus on it. And it goes beyond writing a list of like, “Oh, here are the things I’m grateful for.” It’s actually really a grace thing in that emotion when you feel gratitude. Have you ever watched terrible news story or gone to a funeral and suddenly, you’re so grateful for your family or for life itself?

It’s like when you feel those moments of gratitude, you really want to embrace that feeling and not just have a list that you’re checking out. “Well, yeah, I am grateful for all these things.” Well, really feel it. So perspective is a really great way and gratitude is an escalator to joy. So definitely, doing those two things could be helpful. Number eight is interesting. It’s called forgiveness to go. And this is something that is a tip in our books.

So our book is over 100 tips on how to find peace of mind and calm in the every day. This is something that my coauthor Kate came up with. We have a whole chapter on forgiveness, but this particular tip is all about forgiveness to go. If you think about takeout, really quick forgiveness. So right now, everybody is living in close quarters, so everyone’s a little on edge.

I got a text from my girlfriend today saying that her husband was driving her crazy as he was eating an apple beside her because it was so loud. She was like, “I seriously want to slap him right now.” So everyone’s on edge, right? So just if you get in a little tiff with your partner or your child or even if you live on your own, everyone’s nerves are a bit shot. So if there was a few texts back and forth that was not sitting right, just let it go.

This is the time to not stew on things, to forgive quickly, to let things go. Because again, forgiveness … the essence of this chapter is when you’re holding onto stuff, it’s affecting you, not the other person. So if you get in a little tiff, of course, if it’s major, work it through, but if it’s little, just let it go. The ninth one is more of a practical tip and that is to have a calming corner.

So this is something we did in the first few weeks because we noticed anxiety’s high, emotions are high. So we have a little spot in our house now where we have … I have little kids books on meditation, little mindfulness flashcards. I’ve got aromatherapy, some crystals, anything that you find calming, whether it’s a candle or incense, whatever it is. Have a little spot in the corner of your house and anytime you notice emotions are running high, just go there, just take a few deep breaths. It’s just great to have that physical space.

And it’s working against me now because every minute, my daughter is like, “You need to go to the calming center.” So that’s a really great practical tool. And the last one, of course, is my favorite, which is just breathing, taking a few really, really deep breaths. And if you have a meditation practice, meditating is a really good tool right now. And breathing is so important. It connects us, it grounds us and we have forgotten how to breathe.

And you basically … so there was a study that we were looking at for our book where this woman coined the term sleep or email apnea and she said … she did a study where it proved that every time we open up our email, we actually stopped breathing for a few seconds. We go into stress mode. So breathing is a really great way to again, get grounded. And again, meditating … we can do a whole summer on meditating, but meditation is a great way to find your calm as well. So those are 10 tips to help you get in the moment.

Chris:                     Absolutely fantastic. See everybody, that’s why I invited her back on. She’s just wonderful. Great practical tips. I’ve just been tuning this and ticking them off in my mind and that one on perspective in gratitude where you talk about, it makes you feel something. I find that when I watch a movie that’s sad, I’ll go and wake my children up and give them a hug. And they’re like, “Dad, what are you doing?” It’s like, “Oh, I just love you so much,” because it’s made me feel … then I go back to sleep.

Nina:                     Yeah. Exactly.

Chris:                     Great stuff. Thanks, Nina, for that.

Nina:                     No problem.

Chris:                     All right. So I’m not sure, Pete, whether this is actually meant to be you sitting there in a meditative state almost.

Nina:                     It looks like Pete.

Chris:                     [inaudible 00:24:50] adjust. I don’t know. One of our internal designers designed this image, so I’m thinking that maybe Pete was the inspiration there. But Pete did mention earlier how he found himself immersed in wanting to understand happiness and that led to a movement that he started here at LiveTiles called LiveSmiles. So I thought I’d give Pete the chance just to tell everybody a little bit more about it.

Peter:                   Yeah. Thanks, Chris. I’m pretty sure that’s not me. That’s a very, very nice blue bead. But I think LiveSmiles, it was really interesting and it’s … I’ll keep the story relatively short, but like Nina, we’ve all gone through things of some sort that led us to a different path and a different purpose.

At the start of 2018, I decided it was important for me to study happiness, to understand what it meant, not necessarily for my own happiness, but to understand how others feel and what drives happiness in others. I think that’s a perspective we need to, as humans, be better at generally speaking. So I did a lot of research, academic research through Harvard’s emotional intelligence series to speaking to practitioners, speaking with lots of different people, philosophers, you name it.

I think that the one … I did this for over about a six week period before I presented to the whole company back in February 2018. The one peak, which was really, really interesting in this process was when I actually interviewed my children about happiness. And I have a four-year-old son [inaudible 00:26:20]. And my four-year-old thought happiness was about candy, which was fine. I accept that as a four year old.

But my seven-year-old girl was starting to build a more mature brain and mindset and understanding life a bit better. And basically, I master how to make other people happy. And amongst [inaudible 00:26:40], she said … and this is perspective on the mind of a child, but it was very reaffirming in terms [inaudible 00:26:50] to happiness. And she said something along the lines of, if you see somebody who’s homeless, go up to them and ask them if they’re okay and how are they feeling?

And then she said, “And then go and get them some food or a blanket to make them feel better.” And it was such a crystallizing moment for me because watching this whole [inaudible 00:27:09] me in 10 seconds was what six weeks of research struggled to tell me through thousands of pages. And that was a simple … she based it upon empathy and compassion in 30 seconds.

And the reason why it was crystallizing for me was it made me realize how instinctive it is for humans to care for each other. And I think that what happens through life is that we get derailed a little bit through life events, through schools, through the media, even through work.

And ultimately, we came up this concept of LiveSmiles three months later, which was all initially for us to make wellbeing an intrinsic part of our workplace, so not to be an addition or a bolt-on or something you do in your time after work, to genuinely make it part of every discussion we have. Make it part of that technology.

And then secondly to that … and this is when a greater purpose was defined … was that as a business, we have a huge opportunity and responsibility to make wellbeing an intrinsic part of other companies’ workplaces. And that’s basically the story LiveSmiles. And we love talking about it. We love having people like Nina on talking about this because they’re the experts.

And I think the more we talk about it, the more we can do, I think the quicker wellbeing will be such an important part of life not just at home, but also in the workplace. And they should just blend in with each other. So that’s the story about LiveSmiles, Chris.

Chris:                     Thank you very much. Thanks. It’s really been interesting. When someone said Pete was studying happiness, I was like, “His work?” But when you explain it in that way, that’s absolutely fantastic. I’m not sure that my daughter could have been not quite so articulate in her description of what happiness was. But anyway, maybe when she’s a bit older.

So look, LiveSmiles was the start of the movement for us, but we never stopped looking for opportunities to do more. So we work this year with Movember on a campaign. The Intelligent Workplace podcast has quite a few episodes with guests such as Nina discussing various topics in and around mental health. And Pete is very active in the community, in this space personally as well.

And LiveVibe is something that is very new and was born for a project that we’re undertaking actually down here in the Hobart office. We’re all wearing these GPS tracker devices to see how we’re utilizing our working space because we’re trying to build a new space and use the space in a better way, and moving furniture and things like that. So we set these little devices up to track how we were using the space on a daily basis.

But what we also did was set up a very simple bot back at that stage in teams that every day checked in with us and asked us how we’re doing. And then what we did was we cross-referenced those responses with the way that we were moving around the office during the day to see if there’s any correlation between the data. So maybe on a day, my response was, “Now, I’m over it today.”

And maybe in conjunction with that, I was maybe staying at my desk the entire day and didn’t move around. So I did a bit of that work. And then I think COVID happened. And that phonics as well that we were undertaking just to discover new things took a bit more of a serious median. And instead of moving just within the four walls and everyone being together all the time, all of a sudden, we’re working from kitchens, home offices, bedrooms and we couldn’t participate in those face-to-face check-ins like we talked about earlier.

And much like Simone from that earlier slide week, we could all hide behind technology and put on a bright face. So we’re taking that original idea, put a little bit more development into it and come with this idea which we’re calling LiveVibe, which is an employee checking tool that sits inside teams as an app. So obviously, this is where a lot of us are working and spending our time these days in teams with this remote working model.

And it helps you keep an eye on your staff who you can’t physically keep an eye on. We’re not unique in this situation. I’m sure that many of you on this call are in similar situations in your workplace where you’re working from home and you don’t get to see your colleagues. So we feel like this is something that might have some legs. And so what we’re asking is if you’re interested in this free solution, you can jump on this link here and have a bit of a look at it, register your interest.

And we strongly believe that this solution is really going to help solve some of those issues around understanding what’s really going on in your employee’s lives. So getting behind that facade and understanding what’s affecting their lives. Pete, I’m just wondering if you want to chime in at all on that one or if I’ve perhaps set [inaudible 00:31:32].

Peter:                   It’s pretty self-explanatory and to be honest, it’s an extension of our LiveSmiles movement that I was speaking about before and-

Chris:                     Correct.

Peter:                   There’s obviously a massive respect for employees’ privacy and [inaudible 00:31:43] is not the solution to wellbeing, but it’s certainly something which can assist. And we’ll talk more about that towards the end as well.

Chris:                     Cool. So what’s next? I really wanted to get Pete’s thoughts on how he sees things progressing post COVID 19 as we start to move into the next phase of our lives. So Pete, I’m just wondering, what do you think of the big employee wellbeing issues for businesses to consider in the next six to 12 months?

Peter:                   Yeah, I’ve got a few little points to quickly run through here. I spoke a bit before about isolation a bit. We’ve heard that word a lot. There are quite a few things we can do to improve people’s feeling about feeling isolated. And look, again, some of these are very, very well documented now.

The things like daily video conference stand-ups to Friday fund sessions with the team to lunchtime or morning sessions with an expert around mindfulness or meditation or something that’s spiritual or just healthy exercise related. Those things are very easy for us to control and we should absolutely be doing those.

Also through this period of isolation, which I think is more of a short-term thing and I think there’ll be a level of normality that regimes within three to six months across the workplace. But trying stuff on something new. Obviously, it’s such a great opportunity for people to spend time learning something, literally about anything. It could be work-related, it could be non-work-related. We have an amazing partnership with a company called GO1, who’s based in Australia here.

They’re offering, through the next few months, access to all their training resources at no cost and I’ll be very happy to share details with anyone on the call who wants to know more about that. But I’m doing some cool stuff in the background. I’m learning how to build a vegetable garden right now. I’m struggling a little bit, to be honest. [inaudible 00:33:32] every morning. But again, it’s actually helping me big time to get through this.

I think also, one of the challenges it’s going to be for employers and managers and employees and people, in general, is that we are going to go through waves of emotions and fluctuation like never before. There are going to be days we feel really good, and then next, we may not. And this may be related to your work arrangement. There’s a recession that’s going to be happening and most likely, there are people who are going to be laid off.

It’s an unpleasant time and I think I understand that it’s going to be waves of emotions and not to expect you to feel good 100% of the time. In fact, that’s probably never going to be … The measure of success is he’s not feeling happiness 100% of the time. You’ve got to build resilience and you’ve got to build strength as well in this process.

And with that in mind, I think one interesting little maybe tip or advice that we’re going to be actually speaking with that coming back tomorrow is reconnecting your people to your purpose and the reason for being, not just from a company point of view but from even an individual point of view. And it was too easy to that actually for the first time in my life, I can say I figured out what my purpose in life was. So it was quite liberating and empowering.

And I think times like this, reconnecting people back to what grounds them is really critical as a company but also individually. And that’s … I mentioned before, being grounded is really important during this times [inaudible 00:35:02]. Reconnection to purpose is really, really interesting. And then also, again, it’s been touched on a little bit, but genuinely connecting people with people in this time is so important. And it sounds like a really easy thing to say, but I’ll give you some examples.

Create new relationships, meet new people in your workplace. All we have this really cool little initiative called phone a colleague where we strongly encourage … And the company does this really well. I’m really pleased to call someone in the company on the other side of the world or somewhere else in the country that you’ve never spoken to before or may not know as well as you’d like to.

And we actually encourage people to set up 30-minute meetings to not talk about work, just to talk about who you are and listen to the other person and understand more about them. It’s been unbelievably successful in terms of people feeling more connected to each other and being a nice little distraction in a day as well. It’s been really positive. I also, as an example, opened up my Friday schedules for anyone in the business to set up time with me and talk to me.

And I sit there and the majority of the time listening to how they’re feeling and asking questions. And again, building connection intentionally is really important. It’s not difficult. At the end of the day, [inaudible 00:36:19]. And if we can go back to what my 7-year-old taught me a few years ago, which is being empathetic and compassionate is instinctive. It’s in us all.

When you push the things aside that are distracting, that we don’t have control of like, again, what Nina was saying, then empathy and compassion, I think, comes through really strongly. So building genuine connections during these times is critical.

Chris:                     I’m 100% [inaudible 00:36:42]. Fantastic stuff. Now, speaking of what’s next, I thought it would be a great time to mention Nina’s previous book that you can now see there on the screen, national bestseller. And we’ll send the link out to everyone on Amazon in the follow-up email.

Nina:                     You [inaudible 00:37:02] again.

Peter:                   And again, Chris is having some … yeah, he’s having some audio challenges. I think this is a segue, Nina, to maybe talk-

Nina:                     Okay. Well, I love what you said, Pete, in your last segment. And I think if I were ever to go back to corporate, I would come work for you because I just think you’re doing all the right things. And focusing on people, I think is so incredibly important and critical. Just coming from the corporate side, I think working corporate 10 years ago was all about corporate social responsibility and what are you doing for the planet and all these numerous causes that we need to fight for.

But I think now, just from what I see going into companies, employees are asking, “What are you doing for me?” Because my stress level is at a 10 and anxiety is on the rise. Unfortunately, depression is on the rise. And so people want to know what you’re doing for them. So I really commend all of your next steps coming out of COVID.

So in terms of what I think Chris asked what next steps were for me, so we launched this book about late last January, so about a year and a half ago. The next exciting steps are that we are launching some online courses, which is going to be great, basically putting each chapter into a week of a course online. And again, it’s just … Kate and I are all about impact. The world is struggling right now. People are struggling right now.

So any way that we can get out there. On Instagram, we’re unfiltered_mindfulness. That’s our hashtag. And what we’re trying to do now is really understand why people are stressed out. Why is 85% of America highly stressed? Why is depression on the rise, anxiety on the rise? 44% of certain industries, one of the big main reasons why they’re losing money is mental health.

People are taking time off from work more so than anything else. So why is this happening? And that’s the next phase. Let That Shit Go was all about the internal and all the different tips and things that you can do internally for yourself. But the next phase … and if there’s a book two and there’s talk of book two is, what’s happening externally? I can speak for myself.

When I first entered the workplace, there was no … I didn’t have a laptop nor did I have a Blackberry or at the time, they called it crackberry because everyone was so addicted to it. There was … When you shut down at five o’clock, you shut down at five o’clock and nobody could get a hold of you. When you went on vacation, you went on vacation. Now, people are just hyper-connected and the expectations of companies are high. And then there’s also a bunch of worldly things around.

A lot of people are experiencing climate change grief and people are just speaking out about a lot of issues that typically, weren’t brought to surface. And so we want to really dig into that and understand what’s the cause of this, especially with teens and kids as well. It’s sad to see kids so disconnected these days as well. And that’s driving kids’ anxiety and kids’ depression. So what is happening in our world and around us that’s causing this? So that’s what is next for us.

Chris:                     Hopefully, you guys can hear me now. Can you?

Nina:                     Yeah.

Chris:                     Excellent. Great. I’ve just switched over microphones. So look, we tried to do things a little bit differently with these com series sessions. So will Nina take us all through a breathing exercise to finish the session? I thought, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.” Something that I’ve never done in any webinar that I’ve ever attended, so I thought we could give it a bit of a go. So what do we need to do, Nina?

Nina:                     Okay. So a lot of people say … and you’ll probably see this a lot, “Oh, just take a couple of deep breaths.” Well, how we’re breathing and the technique is so critical to that. And you’ll notice the more panicked, the more worried, the more anxious, the more angry you are, the more shallow your breathing is. So what you really want to do as you’re taking deep breaths is breathe from your diaphragm.

So if you put your hand on your chest right now, you’ll notice that your chest is rising and falling as you’re breathing, which is the breathing that we’ve gotten so used to. But what’s much more effective in inspiring that calm is breathing from our diaphragm. So now, what I want you to do is put your hand on your stomach and I want you to take a deep breath in and as you take a breath in, I want you to feel your stomach actually ballooning out, right?

So you’re taking a breath in and you’re feeling your stomach ballooning out and as you exhale, you want to feel that balloon deflating. You’re letting as much air out as possible. And then again, you breathe in and for a count of three or four, let that stomach inflate that balloon, expand that stomach, expand and let that balloon inflate. And as you exhale, again, you want to deflate that balloon. And so we’re just going to take two breaths in silence.

So inhale, deep breath, just expand that balloon and exhale deeply. You could even pull your abs back to exaggerate that deflate and inhale again and exhale. And so some of you might actually feel a little bit more calm, but if you are about to present or you’re about to get an email, a challenging email or your kid asks you for the million snack of the day, just a really great technique is to take deep belly breaths right from your diaphragm. Breathing is the reason we’re alive and this is why it grounds us.

And if you can, keep your back straight. If you’re a meditator, get into that position. If you’re sitting in a chair or you want your feet flat on the ground, your legs at a 90-degree angle. But taking those big belly breaths is much more effective than just taking three breaths as you normally would.

Chris:                     Thanks for that, Nina. I’ll have to say it actually does work because last night when my son decided to clean his skateboard wheels and get grease on the carpet, it was, “Take deep breaths and walk away.” It really does work. Thank you very much for your time today. And, Nina, it’s been fantastic hearing your experiences and your advice. So thank you very much.

Nina:                     Thanks for having me. I so appreciate it.

Peter:                   Thanks, Chris. Thanks, Nina.

Chris:                     Absolute pleasure. So next week, we’re sticking with the remote working thing. It’s new to many of us and we’re still fighting at what works and what doesn’t in our own lives. And so I thought of inviting on someone who’s worked at a company, who’s been at it for a long time, and he’s going to share some of his real-world experiences and advice around how best to succeed with remote working.

So it will be next week’s session. So look out for that on social media and email and all that sort of thing. And once again, Nina, thank you very much for your time. It’s been wonderful. Stay safe everybody and we’ll see you next week.

Nina:                     Thank you.

Peter:                   Thank you, everyone.


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