The Intelligent Workplace

Education Series

What happens when remote working novelty wears off

There was a bit of excitement and nervous energy when businesses were required to send their workforce home. Setting up home offices, using new technology and being able to work in leisure wear was a bit of a novelty. A few months down the track, and what started out as a temporary solution is looking more and more like the new normal.
In this episode Chris talks with “Lessons in Happiness from the Third World” author, Pete Jensen. Together they discuss the current issues facing businesses with remote work forces, including:
  • What to do once the novelty wears off
  • How to avoid the downward well-being spiral
  • The principles of WHO-listic well-being
  • How to build a strategy for well-being in isolation
  • Finding sustained happiness
Episode Links
TED Talks
Psychological Safety – Amy Edmonson
Loneliness and addiction – Rachel Wurzman
Contact Pete
Book purchases

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Chris:                     Hello. Welcome to our webinar for today. Today, I have a real treat for you all, those of you who are currently working from home and wondering when this thing is going to end. Today, we’re going to address the issue of what happens when the novelty around working in your pajamas, eating never ending snacks, your flexible start and finish times, and Zoom meetings when you get to wear your crisis hat. When all that sort of stuff becomes a little bit ho-hum, what happens? I’ve got a great guest to help me talk about this today, I’ll introduce him in a second.

Chris:                     First up, background on LiveTiles, who are we? We’re a global company specializing in employee collaboration and communication software, services, and AI for the workplace.

Chris:                     Now, to help me discuss the issues around our topic today, I’ve invited Pete Jensen on to share his thoughts. Welcome, Pete.

Peter:                   Hi Chris, how are you this morning?

Chris:                     Well, thank you, mate. Now look, Pete has a burning passion to help business leaders create organizations that are great places to work in and where employees feel psychologically safe. Sorry. I’m struggling with reading this morning. Psychologically safe and thriving. So over the past 15 years, Peter has worked with over 20,000 participants around the Asia-Pacific region, delivering leadership development, culture transformation, behavioral safety leadership, and enabling wellbeing master classes and programs. So he’s very, very well versed on this topic today.

Chris:                     He helps organizations and leaders achieve this by delivering keynotes, speaking at industry conferences, speaking on webinars like today, conducting workshops. He’s also a sought after speaker resource to organizations such as The Executive Connection, The CEO Institute, Deccan Prime, The Golden Door, Rotary International and many, many others. How’s that, Pete? Welcome aboard.

Peter:                   Couldn’t have said it better myself, Chris. Thank you.

Chris:                     Thank you for supporting me with those kind words. With that being said, fantastic to have you with us this morning. It’s a very, very cold morning down here in Hobart, so it might take a little bit to get warmed up, but let’s have a quick look at what we’ll be talking about today with the agenda.

Chris:                     I thought it’d be really nice to take a bit of a look back with Pete himself and his experiences. As you all know, he’s an author and just of interest to see how he came to writing his book, [inaudible 00:02:25] Building Company Culture, Wellbeing in Isolation, something that is very important at the moment. Then we’re going to take a look at the wholistic wellbeing, with WHO being part of that, so we’ll get into that one a bit. Talk about sustained happiness, and then wrap it up with a bit of stuff that LiveTiles is doing around the LiveSmiles movement, which sort of piece of this all together nicely.

Chris:                     Pete, before we get into this, so in the here and now and discuss remote working and the effects it’s having on some members of the workforce, can we first talk about your experiences? I want to know what led you to write in this book that we can see here on the screen, Lessons in Happiness from the Third World.

Peter:                   Thanks, Chris. Look, this is very much a personal story, but 10 years ago, I went through the loneliness walk in my life, which was 18 months of going through depression and anxiety. At the time, I was working for a global organization in a national role. I was doing all the right things. I was on medication, I had a EAP counselor, but for me personally, neither of those were working. I literally got to the end where I decided to pull the pin, and in that moment had a very meaningful conversation with my sister. Kind of dragged me [inaudible 00:03:40] but I stopped short in my tracks and I thought, what’s going on here? You know, I looked around, this is 10 years ago, depression, anxiety, stress, where we are in the West, and then I remembered where I grew up. My parents were missionaries in Africa so I grew up in a very rural area and with the poorest of the poor. I just started thinking and the thought that hit me was why is it that when you look at … we call them third world countries, I guess, but this is third world countries where people have got nothing, they find it so much easier to be joyful than we do in the West.

Peter:                   So the question was, what have we forgotten or what have we become so busy and self-focused to think about? Out of that came a recipe, the book is written in the format of a recipe. What are the three core ingredients that make up happiness based on the Third World? What can we learn from that? But also then you add all the herbs and spices, which are a lot of personal mastery and development tools that I’ve picked up in the last 15 years of doing culture transformation. I guess the background’s a personal story, but the three key elements are as strong today as they were then, especially during COVID.

Chris:                     Yeah, for sure. Then for people that don’t know, you had a chance meeting with one of our co-founders, Peter Nguyen-Brown, I believe on a beach somewhere. He was perhaps going through some, not so much the depression, but sort of thinking, in his forties, what’s next, what’s happiness, and those kinds of thoughts that you have around, “What’s next for me after I’ve raised my children?” That sort of thing. He just happened to meet you and then you two went on a little bit of a journey together as well, didn’t you?

Peter:                   Well, it’s actually quite funny because Peter was speaking and we met by chance on the beach and he said, “Look, I’ve got this topic to talk about and I’m not sure what to say.” I said, “What’s your topic?” He goes, “It’s happiness.” I’m like, “Guess what? I just wrote a book. Would you like a copy?” He said, “Look, I’m flying out tonight to LA.” I said, “Don’t move,” ran home, got a copy, sent it to him. He read it on the plane. We’ve communicated since then and I’ve been lucky to meet part of your leadership team as well in a workshop. So you know, sometimes it just happens.

Chris:                     Yeah, absolutely. Look, I was at the conference that he came and presented that to, and it was amazing. It literally led to the launch of what we now know in our business as LiveSmiles, which is basically Peter’s higher calling, if you like. He’s doing something more than just … us as a product vendor, doing something to help people in all walks of life. Mate, it’s in no small part thank you to you and the advice and the chats that you had with Pete. It’s amazing how this world works at the moment, isn’t it?

Peter:                   Yeah. There’s no such thing as coincidence.

Chris:                     No, no, no, no. I’m actually a firm believer in that. Yeah. Beautiful work.

Peter:                   Yeah.

Chris:                     All right, so let’s talk about your working life. You’ve worked with many clients on creating a positive culture and helping them to grow and flourish. I just want to know, what are some of the major challenges that companies are faced when they’re attempting to either build a new culture or rebuild a culture?

Peter:                   How much time have you got? Look, I think just in preparing for today and trying to focus really in on where we’re sitting with COVID and the journey. I’ve just picked two challenges in particular. The backstory to that is I was very fortunate to work with John McFarlane when he was the CEO of ANZ bank. Some people may remember in the late eighties, early nineties, they’re about to broke. They were closing branches, the share price was down. Along comes this new CEO and he goes, “I’ve got a great idea. We’re going to send 38,000 people in 42 countries on a personal mastery course, personal development course, called Break-Up.”

Peter:                   Now, if you’re a shareholder, you would’ve thought he was nuts, but that’s exactly what we did. The end results was bank of the year five years in a row, highest engagement scores, all the commercial results followed that intervention in the individual and the human being. I think for me, this is 15 years ago but in terms of COVID today, it’s exactly the same thing.

Peter:                   So I’ve picked two challenges. The first one is understanding the role of the organization and leaders during this period. There’s a wonderful quote by Alex Den Heijer in Belgium, and he says that when a flower is wilting, you don’t fix the flower. You actually fix the garden in which the flower lives. When you think about that, it’s really about the role of leaders is to create the right environment for people to flourish. We need to understand what people’s needs are. In particular, again, as we go through COVID … there’s another icebreaker I use when I do a lot of keynotes. I throw a question to the audience and the question is, “When someone has a headache, what do we give them?” Of course, everyone yells out Panadol and Nurofen, et cetera, et cetera. I go, “Correct, but what if that’s not what they need? What if they’re just dehydrated and all they need is a glass of water?”

Peter:                   I think it’s really important as leaders that we don’t have a one-size-fits-all push solution to our employees and staff members. We need to take time to understand their personal needs and understand what environment they would flourish in. I was working with an organization where the environment is quite harsh. I’m a palm tree, not a cactus, but I’ve set myself up in an environment where I felt like I was cactus, and it just wasn’t working. Nothing wrong with the people, nothing wrong with the company, but the environment wasn’t meeting my needs. So I think the first challenge in terms of leaders is stepping back and being really curious, asking questions. Inquire what is it that people need and then setting up the right environment for people to flourish.

Peter:                   The second one, and this is really going to be challenging as we start to exit COVID, is giving people autonomy and developing trust. So training our leaders-

Chris:                     It’s difficult at this time, isn’t it?

Peter:                   Well, how do you know how much work people are doing? We talk a lot about control and compliance. I read an article last night in one of the journals that if someone sits in their chair for eight hours in front of their computer, surely they’re going to be productive, but you don’t control people like that anymore.

Chris:                     No.

Peter:                   We need to trust people. It’s really interesting because the challenge for leaders is to shift from, “Everyone’s in the office, we can control their movements and their time,” to, “Oh my God, everyone’s at home. I have no control.” How then do you give people the autonomy and trust them? Here’s the secret. People are actually the solution anyway. If you think about moving into our coronavirus crisis … I come from a safety background as well as a wellbeing background, and certainly in safety, you would have filled out reams of paperwork around ensuring desks set up. There’s so much compliance, yet we transitioned perfectly. In fact, there was an air of excitement. Everyone was rushing off to Officeworks, buying webcams, if they were available, et cetera. People have delivered. My clients are saying that in the first six weeks, their staff were even more productive than they were in the office, without control.

Peter:                   There is a skill there for leaders to try and A, create the right environment by knowing their people. Secondly, and the wonderful quote that comes out of, I guess, your industry being more technology, is Patty McCord, who is the chief talent officer at Netflix. She says this, she says a company’s job isn’t to empower people. It’s to remind people that they walk in the door with the power and create the conditions for them to exercise it. What does that mean for us as leaders?

Peter:                   If you look at the cycle of control and compliance, you have an unwanted behavior, what do you do? You write a rule. As soon as you write that rule, you take away someone’s autonomy. When you take away their autonomy, they become disengaged. So what do you get? Another unwanted behavior. So what do we do? We write another rule. Another rule, and the cycle just continues. There’s a big secret, and I do a lot of work in the space where it’s, how do you give people back some autonomy and freedom? In a space, obviously, if you’re working in a critical risk industry, you’ve got to draw some boundaries, but I think those are the two challenges in terms of culture, especially as we emerge from COVID.

Chris:                     It’s interesting, and if you are going back into the office at some stage and you’ve been used to being, now in this new world, given this autonomy and the controls come off a little bit, what happens when you walk back in their doors?Go back to the way it was, or is it how it is now, or is there somewhere in between?

Peter:                   I think to me, the trust conversation becomes the important piece.

Chris:                     Yes.

Peter:                   And how effectively the leader can both build trust … everybody wants trust, but nobody wants to go first. There’s something in here about leaders having to become a bit vulnerable as well. Brené Brown does a lot of great work, Dare to Lead is her greatest book, and I’m actually accredited to run that program. There is something about leaders becoming vulnerable and being willing to say things like, “We’re going into uncharted territory. I don’t have all the answers. I need everybody’s voice.” This is coming out of the psychological safety work by Amy Edmondson, but it’s about leaders being vulnerable and that’s the first step towards building trust.

Peter:                   I think there’s huge scope, especially that we’re moving out of a controlled environment. As I’ve said, the evidence certainly in the first stage has been that people have been more productive, but I sense there’s something else starting to happen, which we’ll talk about as we go through wellbeing and isolation later.

Chris:                     Absolutely. Absolutely. Now look, I’ve put the term, and I’m hoping I’m pronouncing it right. I’m just calling it wholistic wellbeing or it could … WHO. I’ll let you explain it because this is [inaudible 00:14:04] new to me and I suspect [inaudible 00:14:06] many in the audience today. Can you please explain what you’re talking about here?

Peter:                   Oh, look, absolutely, I can. It’s certainly a bit of a play on words. The WHO is World Health Organization and I’ve spent the last three years or so traveling Europe, the UK, here in New Zealand, trying to rock the boat and shift the paradigm around wellbeing. What do I mean by that? I think that wellbeing, A, is very subjective, but B, organizations have invested heaps of time, energy, and resources at certain aspects of wellbeing. They’re doing a really good job in that space and it’s really well intended, but we’ve kind of missed the big picture.

Peter:                   There are a couple of things that the World Health Organization definition of wellbeing gives us a few clues. The first thing, when you look at the exact definition, it says that wellbeing is about being complete. There’s a nice link back to Patty McCord, being complete in physical, mental, and social wellbeing. The definition continues to say that wellbeing is not about the absence of illness. It’s more about creating the presence of wellness. That’s a huge paradigm shift.

Peter:                   When we look at that, two challenges for organizations at the moment. The first one is, where is our focus? Is our focus on the absence of illness? Are we trying to reduce sick days, WorkCover claims, EAP usage. Does that mean we’ve … successful? Or can we point to the presence of wellness? Can we actually demonstrate wellness? They’re two different things. It’s like, you can’t be sick and well at the same time. If you think about safety, you can’t be safe and unsafe at the same time. So where is our focus?

Peter:                   The second thing is, what are we measuring? More often than not, we’re measuring the negative indicators. That paradigm shift then starts this conversation of so what is wellbeing when you think of a framework. If you break it down very quickly, physical wellbeing, I think we’ve covered that quite well in organizations. Occupational health is the first sub-element, or I call them planets. Body management is around how we manage things like nutrition, sleep deprivation, et cetera. Then mind bodies is the mindfulness stuff and most organizations generally have got a good handle on that.

Peter:                   Mental wellbeing is the one that really concerns me because the focus is driven quite heavily towards mental health and understandably so, because that’s where the highest risk is. So if you imagine a mountain, for a moment, and you imagine the cliff on the edge of the mountain, there’ll be people who are on the edge of that cliff, and whether it’s depression, stress, anxiety, clinical disorders, we have a lot of good things in place for that. You know, EAP, Beyond Blue, MATES in construction, there’s so many good initiatives.

Peter:                   But what about the second element of mental wellbeing? I just call it doing life. You know?

Chris:                     Yeah.

Peter:                   People have got mortgage stress, they’ve got relationship issues. They could have substance dependency, difficult children, whatever it might be. Now, they’re not on the edge of the cliff. They’re in the middle of the mountain, but they could be drifting. What skills do people have in that space? This is where John McFarlane and the ANZ culture program was so powerful. It was equipping people to do life, to have difficult conversations, to manage things.

Peter:                   Then the third part of mental wellbeing is around personal growth, that’s around mastery, and it’s around autonomy, as we were saying earlier. Mental wellbeing is a lot bigger than just mental health.

Peter:                   The one that concerns me the most is social wellbeing, and that ties right back to one of the key recipes in my book on happiness, at a personal level. Graeme Cowan who heads up R U OK Day and other things did some research in Australia in 2019, and the stats were that 25% of Australian employees have got zero social interaction with each other. Not even a cup of coffee.

Chris:                     Really?

Peter:                   Yeah.

Chris:                     Wow.

Peter:                   So you look at connection, and now that we think about working remotely …

Chris:                     Now, yeah.

Peter:                   .. and we start thinking about connection … When I was in London last year, I discovered that in the UK, there is actually a minister for loneliness in parliaments. They have a government department for loneliness. A lot of people go “Oh, that’s the [pums 00:18:47].” Well, hang on a second. In Australia, we’ve got the Australian …

Peter:                   We have an organization in Australia called the Australian Coalition To End Loneliness, headed up by Dr. Michelle Lim. Shared a stage with her in Sydney at a conference last year and we’ve met. Loneliness is not going away anytime soon.

Chris:                     No.

Peter:                   Loneliness could be 18-year-olds and it could be 75-year-olds. This is something that’s been around pre-COVID and COVID might just exacerbate that as we move through the stages of return to work.

Chris:                     I was only having this discussion with one of my coworkers yesterday. A few of us to start to go back into the office down here in Hobart. It’s because we were getting like … I mean, I’ve got a family, I’ve got kids, they’ve been at home with me and all that sort of thing, but for the people with who might be living on their own and then forced to be working on their own all day and not getting to see their partner or their family and that sort of thing, it really does get lonely.

Chris:                     She said to me, “I just got to the point where I just had to see someone.” I said, “Look, I was the same. All I want to do is come in here and give my co-workers a hug, because it got to the point where this loneliness was starting to build.” Even though I was with my family, my day to day family, for my office, I really missed them.

Peter:                   Yeah. Yeah. You know, what’s becoming interesting is when you look at the stages of COVID, for me, stage one was very exciting. You know, everyone was working from home, getting a little set up. There was this excitement.

Chris:                     Buying stuff and setting up my office and and all that, yes.

Peter:                   Stage two was we were galvanized as a nation to flatten the curve. So all of a sudden, everyone had a common goal and a common enemy and a common aim. I’m not sure about you, but I would wake up every morning and check my phone, look at the stats.

Chris:                     Yeah, COVID [inaudible 00:20:38], absolutely.

Peter:                   I’m a sports nut. I’ve treated it like a leaderboard, you know?

Chris:                     There was no sports for us to follow.

Peter:                   No, and I’ll be saying things like, “Wow, Australia’s really improved. From 15th in the world, we’ve gone to 20th in the world,” and I can tell you we’re 69th in the world at the moment. But you know, there was that whole common cause and we were a galvanized and we’ve done it. New Zealand’s well done, they’ve done it as well.

Peter:                   So here’s stage three, with the lifting of restrictions. I’ve got a very good mate, and he loved working at home. He got to see his kids, but the kids have come back to school now. For the first time, he is going, “I am so alone.” And he’s a very much an extrovert. “I’m now alone,” because kids are going back to school, things are going back to normal, so this loneliness is starting to creep back in. It’s going to be an extended isolation period, I think, certainly. I live in Melbourne so I know September, if we’re lucky.

Peter:                   That connection piece is part of social wellbeing. The second part is contribution. People want to be part of a bigger thing. Again, John McFarlane, and this is where I learned a lot about at ANZ was, he asked the people, “What do you want to do?” And one of their core values was earn the trust of the community, for example. So he said, “Okay, let’s action that. Everyone gets two days a year to do what you want in the community so that you can live your value of contribution.”

Peter:                   The third one, which is really important to me, is celebration, and there’s a big difference between celebration and recognition. It’s easy to recognize people, but that’s got no social value. I was having a chat to somebody in, an organization that I almost mentioned. He said, [inaudible 00:22:23] talking about it, he said, “In the old days, when someone had a birthday, we’d bring in a cake, we’d stop the office for 10 minutes, and we’d celebrate that person. But head office has said there’s no budget for cake anymore so we just put their name on the monthly newsletter.”

Peter:                   So we recognize people, but how do we actually create celebration and social value around that? So just stepping back for a moment, when we look at the World Health Organization definition, it’s about the entire spectrum of wellbeing. It’s all three key components and also those nine sub-planets. Some people may be watching and going, how do we stack up? What are our top three? What are our bottom three? Where’s there room for improvement? I certainly believe that social wellbeing is the Trojan horse here. As we start to create more of that, then it would demonstrate in more mental and emotional wellbeing as well. So that’s just giving you a bit of a background to that.

Chris:                     Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s move it over to … what we’re sort of touching on there is wellbeing and isolation. It’s fair to say that any company culture would have been seriously tested by this situation we find ourselves in with COVID-19. For most companies, having a strategy to deal with wellbeing issues that would surface during an extended isolation probably wasn’t something that was seen as a must have in the past, but I’m tipping that right now, it’s kind of raised to the surface, hasn’t it?

Peter:                   It certainly has. For me, it’s been an interesting period to see the circle close between writing my book around personal happiness and seeing what’s happening now with people working in isolation, because there are a couple of things that are really critical that we’ve forgotten, from the third world, for example, was that it’s really about belonging and connection and doing that intentionally. I do a lot of talks just pro bono for senior citizens or charities, and often I’ll see someone who’s a widower and they’ll go, “You talk about belonging. I’ve got nowhere to belong. My kids don’t come and visit me. My grandkids don’t come and visit me.” I said, “You know what, if you don’t have a place to belong, find a place to belong.”

Peter:                   There are many places you could go to belong. To me, it’s about creating rituals around us. I have a lifestyle where I live alone. I work alone, I travel alone. I’ve got five or six groups that I belong to and I’m intentional about them. I’ve been known to fly back from Sydney, play around to golf in Melbourne and fly straight back to Sydney because that’s one of the places where I belong. I think it’s really important to look at that and set up specific places where you can belong and connect.

Peter:                   The second thing for me is that happiness is a work ethic, and wellbeing to me is a work ethic. I think that you can set yourself up for success. We could talk about neuroscience and positive psychology if we had more time, but there are simple things that you can do creating rituals and accountability when you’re in isolation. For example, I walk with my neighbbor every morning at seven o’clock. That’s part of my ritual. That’s what I do. In isolation, I think there are many things that you can do as an individual, if you have an understanding of what you need.

Chris:                     But there’s no magic wand, no amazing strategy that’s going to cover everything, is there? It’s horses for courses?

Peter:                   It certainly is and I think that’s the important part. I think as leaders, we need to be checking in, but it starts with that premise at the beginning is we need to know what people’s needs are. The other thing we can learn from the World Health Organization where they talk about the difference between the absence of illness and the presence of wellness is rather than focusing on fixing what’s broken, let’s go and look for where it’s working well. Let’s get really curious and ask some questions. What are you doing in this environment to create the success? What are the things that you’ve put in place? How can we share that success with the rest of the team? I think that whole notion of appreciative inquiry is a really important thing. If we start looking at understanding what’s working well and sharing those learnings, we start gravitating towards that. That’s just another tip, is look for what’s working and try and duplicate that with your teams.

Chris:                     Good stuff. Thank you for that, mate. Let’s flick it over to sustain happiness now. I mean, obviously we’re all looking for sustained happiness for our employees and that’s a combination of a good strategy, ticking the World Health Organization and wholistic wellbeing boxes, and generally keeping an eye on things with our people. What are some of the key things you think that we need to keep in mind to ensure that we sustain our employee’s happiness?

Peter:                   The first thing I would do is … the starting point is to see how you stack up against those nine elements of the definition and constantly come back and check in. It may be a great conversation to have with your people again, because people have got solutions and ideas and answers around that, so kind of the audit and keep measuring.

Peter:                   The second thing is for leaders to develop skills in the shift from control to how to create autonomy and trust with their people.

Chris:                     Perfect. Yeah. I like that.

Peter:                   That’s a conversation that needs to happen. There are a lot of … Brené Brown talks about seven elements of trust. How do you set boundaries, how do you do things? There’s a lot of work you can do in that space around autonomy. The third thing [crosstalk 00:27:59] …

Chris:                     Sorry mate, can I interrupt for one second? Do you know of somebody who might be able to assist in that type of training?

Peter:                   Yes.

Chris:                     Yourself, probably?

Peter:                   Look, I’ve been in the space for about 15 years, but I have a massive network and a lot of that’s about fit. It’s about organizational fit, industry fit, et cetera, et cetera. But yes, I’ve got a huge network of associates who have all done work in this space. To deliver a culture program to 38,000 people needs a big team. I have a strong connection with that team, but what I’d like to share, just conscious of time as well, because conversations can flow for a long time … I think the third part of this is that individuals need to have skin in the game as well. I think we’ve moved from a culture of … in the past, someone rocks up for a job in the old days and you know, “I’ll go the extra mile. I’ll be a real team player,” has evolved into, “The company owes me.” We’ve got a sense of entitlement mindset happening in society today. I think people need to have skin in the game as well and this is where that trust and accountability thing is so important.

Peter:                   Part of having skin in the game is for people to make sense of why stuff is important. I’m really strong on whether it’s around wellbeing or happiness and they’re quite intermeshed is, as an individual, if things make sense to me, I’ll do them. One of the things that makes a lot of sense to me is to put my safety nets in place before things go bad. You know, you tend to find that when things go bad, all of a sudden people are learning all this amazing stuff. You know, we have a bushfire, we have a flood … I mean you watch Channel 10 and people go, “Wow, mate, you know what, if this fire hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have got to know all my neighbors. They’re actually amazing people.” And I’m going, “What, you needed a fire?” You know what I’m saying?

Chris:                     Yes, yes.

Peter:                   So I kind of think about, you know, it’s really important to put safety nets in place while times are good. I’ve got a couple that we could talk about, but it’s all dependent on your time.

Chris:                     Yeah. Fire away, man. Let’s do the elevator pitch on them, because we’ve got about 15 minutes, I think.

Peter:                   I did a little bit of preparation and we could do a hold on this, but I’ve just picked six and I might talk about one of them in a bit more detail, but the six that I’ve picked, the first safety net is there’s been a lot of research lately around the connection between loneliness and addiction. I wrote an article on it not too long ago, but now there is scientific evidence that there is a connection between that and it really concerns me that we’re experiencing the highest levels of loneliness in our history, we’re also experiencing the highest levels of addiction in our history. Wonderful TED Talk by Rachel Wurzman on that as well.

Peter:                   Understanding what drives that, and by the way, addiction is not just drugs, alcohol. It could be sex, could be eating, could be shopping, could just be your mobile device. The tendency when you’re in loneliness and you need that little hit, you know, the first thing you do is you move to whatever your addiction is. So I guess the first safety net is recognizing that I need to be comfortable with the void and find a positive way to fill that void, whatever that void is.

Peter:                   The second safety net, I would think, in terms of COVID is really setting boundaries and measuring activity. So clear boundaries between work time, family time, me time, and actually measuring it. You know, my study has … I call myself Rain Man sometimes, but I give myself points for all the things that I do and I measure myself every day, but being really clear about that.

Peter:                   The third thing is the importance of creating daily rituals. There’s a great book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz called The Power of Full Engagement, where they studied elite athletes to try and find out how they could be on their game and perform 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. One of the things they learned was that elite athletes, this whole old time thinking of it’s all about mind over matter and discipline, they don’t think that way. They just create rituals around what they do. I started to build that into my own happiness and wellbeing so I just have ritual on what I do, and what helps is to have an accountability partner around your rituals.

Peter:                   The fourth one is to figure out where you are in the change cycle. This applies not just to COVID, this applies to any change that you go through in life, whether it’s redundancy, whether it’s loss of a partner. The whole notion of change is quite interesting because it starts with denial, and then it moves to resistance, then it moves to acceptance, then it moves to commitment. Knowing where you are in the change cycle is really important, but looking forward to the next stage. So again, we could do a whole lot of work around just self kind of reflection of where am I in this change cycle. I took three months out of my life to go and live with someone who is going through some tough times. I moved from our beautiful home on the beach to a suburb inland. In the beginning, all I could do is look at all the faults in that area. You know, they don’t have nice restaurants there is no beach, there’s … so I was in the kind of resistance phase. I then started looking around and I went, “Oh, there’s a nice cycling track.” “Oh, things are a bit cheaper here,” because it’s a different community. I started looking for all the positives and before I knew it, I then moved myself right down the change cycle. I think that’s a really important safety net to have in place.

Peter:                   I guess the fifth one is really figuring out and asking and giving feedback. Courage craves vulnerability, but just like we want people to give us feedback, it’s about stepping up as a team member as well and giving your leader or organization feedback. The fifth one, which is interesting is just watching your language. Language has energy. People talk about self-isolating. How terrible. Sounds like I’m going to jail. Versus physical isolation. There’s a lot of language around the recession at the moment. I’ve shifted my language to reinvention. The new normal will never be like it was. [crosstalk 00:34:33] Yeah, there’s a couple of safety nets that people could think about as they contemplate getting through this next phase of our extended isolation

Chris:                     Great stuff. Look, you mentioned some articles, TED talks, those things, during that slide there, and we’ll link to those with the followup emails that come off the back of this so that people can go and check those in as well because they sound fantastic.

Chris:                     I’ll just wrap this up from the LiveTiles perspective. Many of you might be aware of a program that I mentioned earlier called LiveSmiles. As I mentioned, Peter was in fact instrumental in the early development of that group [inaudible 00:35:13]. LiveSmiles was the start of the movement, but we are looking for opportunities all the time to do more. We’ve worked with [inaudible 00:35:21] on a campaign late last year, The Intelligent Workplace podcast that I look after has quite a few episodes with guests talking about mental health and in and around those topics.

Chris:                     This is something new for us that we are just launching now and it’s a real evolution in the LiveSmiles concept. It’s called LiveTiles Vibe. Look, we believe it will really help in remaining in contact with your employees and sort of addressing some of the issues that we’ve spoken about today without being too distracting so as to lose its effectiveness. LiveTiles Vibe, it’s an in the moment check in tool. So as you can see there on the screen there, we can ask staff questions that they simply click one of their sponsors and away the data goes, anonymously, to the backend database. You can report on it and you can check and get an overall picture of how your staff are feeling. Things like, how productive did you feel this week? Are you feeling happy this week? What are you looking forward to next week? The opportunities really are endless to do it in this space.

Chris:                     We’ve also found in talking to some of our customers, there are other opportunities for this. The employee doesn’t have to leave where they’re working to quickly answer these questions. It’s not a matter of getting sent a link to an email survey. It’s like right here, right now, how are you feeling? We think it’s going to be a fantastic thing for us. This is showing it within Microsoft Teams, which is obviously very popular right now with its 70 odd million daily users, but we’re also looking to surface this tech in multiple channels, things like Slack and that sort of thing.

Chris:                     As I said before, it won’t distract them from their work and it was just a quick click and submit in whichever platform they’re working in and allow those in the background and the people [inaudible 00:37:01] that sort of thing, just to get a really quick feel about how the employees are feeling, because that is something right now with people working from home, their studies and that sort of thing, you really do miss out on that.

Chris:                     If you think you like the sound of that free solution, you can jump onto the website there, we’ll send the links out in the follow-up email as well. You can check it out for yourself, but I think this is something really fantastic. Very excited about this one. Now to wrap this all up-

Peter:                   [inaudible 00:37:30]?

Chris:                     Yes, mate?

Peter:                   Can I just offer one thing very quickly on what you were just sharing, is if we circle back to the wholistic framework, two things about that data which would make sense to team members. The first one is it gives leaders a kind of a read on where are the issues before people get to the edge of the cliff. But the other thing …

Chris:                     Good point.

Peter:                   … shifting from the absence of illness to the presence of wellness. Where are the areas where people are reporting that they’re going well? That gives you an indication of go and investigate, go and find out. What are they doing? How are they setting themselves up and how can we share that across the organization? That ties in strongly with social wellbeing. If people are looking for an area to have a contribution to others in the organization, participating in something like this is a great way of sharing and contributing to the rest of the team as well. I think it actually underpins some of those principles quite strongly.

Chris:                     Thank you, and we did not pay for you to make those comments. Thank you very much.

Peter:                   It’s all in the moment.

Chris:                     Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now look on the screen here, you can see all of Pete’s contact details. If you want to reach out to him, purchase the book that you can see there at the bottom right, link up with him on LinkedIn, or find out more about some of those courses that he talked about. Pete has an absolute wealth of knowledge, some fantastic experiences. Had a couple of great conversations with Pete, even just talking about happiness and wellbeing. He’s an amazing fellow, he’s been really great with his time here today. So thank you very much, Pete, for joining us here today.

Chris:                     There will be follow-up emails to see with all of those bits and pieces that we’ve spoken about here. Normally you would hear me say who we’ve got on next week, but unfortunately my guest has fallen through for next week so we’ll probably take a break for a week and we’ll see you back here at Thursday morning, 8:30 A.M. time slot very soon. Thank you everybody for joining us today and have a fantastic day.

Peter:                   Yeah. Have an awesome week.


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