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Friday, April 2, 2021

APRIL 2021: Develop. Survive. Thrive. Reset.


I've gotten my first Pfizer shot, 2nd one is due soon and I cut 3 inches off my pandemic hair. The times, they are a-changing! I'm excited in some ways as things slowly open up, and concurrently concerned by the premature cancellation of mask-wearing, Spring Break travel busting out all over, and the variants. Eeesh.

As always, I've plowed a bunch of great tools and resources. Here goes!

Leadership Development. This is my favorite topic to talk about... so much so that I got interviewed on a podcast about it! And apparently the response was so strong (most downloads in their season after 1 1/2 days) that they asked me to come back for more. Thank you to those who listened. Upcoming interviews will be on burnout, remote team-building, and the how's and why's of leadership development (intern programs, onboarding, management training, performance reviews and about 15 other things!). Stay tuned.

More resources for leadership development:

  • How to Step In as an Interim Manager. I have used this with a couple of clients and they found it very useful, as a sort of roadmap to get started.
  • What I Learned from Taking Fridays OffI liked this article because it's written by a seasoned leader, not a younger worker who just wants more time to mess around with friends (not that that is bad, but I'm well past that stage!) I've found that my stamina is so different as I've gotten older, and I need more time to decompress and "re-create." This article captures some of the issues around that.
  • Coaching Real Leaders. This is my new favorite podcast (and I love me some podcasts!). I want to be Muriel Wilkins when I grow up.
  • Most Requested Leadership Development Resources. I've done a little spring-cleaning on my website, and if you look to the right of this post --> --> -->, you'll see a boatload of the docs that clients request most from me. There are some gems in there. Have fun! Tell me which ones work for you and why.

Surviving and Thriving.
I do wonder how we will all do as things shift beyond the pandemic. There is certainly no going "back" to the ways things were, but I can't tell what it will be like as we move forward. I think it might be like my experience during every finals week in college, when I pushed really hard with the carrot of knowing that I'd get to have a break... and promptly got sick as soon as I finished! I think once we let our guards down that some stuff might bubble to the surface. Let's be kind to ourselves and others as life unfolds...

  • Beyond Burned OutFrom the HBR "Big Idea" research for March/April 2021. I appreciated having an official definition of burnout, plus a reminder that it's not just an employee problem, but also an organizational one. Additionally, they offer interventions to avoid sustained burnout. A few other tidbits:
    • Millennials have the highest levels of burnout.
    • One of the greatest needs of employees is an empathetic manager.
    • Leaders need to get the right systems in place NOW, before the NEXT crisis happens.
  • CEO Stress, Aging, and Death. I know, I know, not a happy times title, but useful research here.
  • Letters from Esther Perel: Routines and Rituals. Renowned therapist and relationship guru provides great questions for reflecting on the impact of the pandemic over the last year.
  • Which small changes in pandemic habits will stick? Again, "don't waste the pandemic." Use this tumultuous experience to reflect, reset, reboot.

Mental Floss. We all need to take a breather during our days. Rather than mindlessly scroll through social media, try these...

Sunday, February 28, 2021

March 2021: THINK. SEE. HEAR. DO.

OOPS! I blinked and February sped past me. Wow. This month pulled me in several different directions with clients (for which I am incredibly thankful) AND I took a socially-distant RV trip with my best friend to celebrate my 60th (WHAT?!) birthday. We visited Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. I could fill this whole post with photos but... I also have a bunch of resources to share. So here is one photo of so many:


If you are so inclined, I cannot recommend each of these parks enough. This is a shot of Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon. I was so refreshed by this trip!

And here are my recommendations for this month:

READING. Warning: Perhaps because I was an English major in college and read A LOT OF FICTION, my reading habits for the past several years have all been non-fiction. I am also a perpetual student, so I'm constantly reading about new things that interest me.
  • Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0. I'm reading this with 2 executive leaders right now and I was entirely won over after the first chapter. This is an update by Jim Collins, renowned author of Good to Great. This podcast interview of Collins in Nov 2020 convinced me that this would be a valuable read, and I was correct. 
  • No Man is an Island. OK, this feeds my philosophical / theological / contemplative side. It's a classic by Thomas Merton. I'm reading this during Lent. Thick and thoughtful.
  • Stop Softening Tough Feedback. This quick article had me at "hello" when it used the phrase "feedback sandwich," because I use that very phrase when coaching managers and executives. 

WATCHING. I cannot BELIEVE how much good, creative stuff is available right now. However, like my reading tastes, I veer more toward documentaries and reality shows (not the trashy stuff). Though I really, really loved Schitt's Creek
  • Nomadland. I had heard raves about this film, and usually those sorts of things don't live up to the hype. But for me, this did not disappoint. Perhaps some of its impact was related to my recent trip all over Utah and Arizona, because this movie really captures much of the beauty of those wide open spaces. But the story, and the director's unique approach that wove together fiction and non-fiction, stayed with me after the film was over. It looks at some hard realities in our country, but it wasn't overwhelming.
  • In and Of Itself. I am reluctant to say much about this film. Just watch it. Very powerful.
  • Stanley Tucci "Searching for Italy." Remember when I said I like reality shows? THIS is what I mean. For context: I love, love, love Italy ~ I've been twice: first to Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre and later another trip to Naples, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. If you are feeling uber-restless about not being able to travel much, this will scratch your itch. Then follow up with Chef's Table: France.

LISTENING. As I have mentioned multiple times here, I'm a podcast NERD. Here are just a few newbies:
  • In Our Time by the BBC. I'm pretty confident you will either LOVE or HATE this. This podcast almost has me giddy. The combination of chippy British accents, delightful understatement and endless episodes about EVERYTHING under the sun is like Christmas for me.  Check it out.
  • HBR Presents: After Hours. I have found this recently. I probably like the energetic, enthusiastic back-and-forth of the hosts as much as the content. But it covers current business trends in a concise, inviting way.
  • Pivot. I believe I've mentioned this one before, but WOW there are So. Many. Confusing. Things going on right now. If you struggle (like me!) to understand bitcoin, blockchain, GameStop, short selling, SPACs... this is your show. Sure, the language is crass and their humor is a bit much at times, but they are in the game and really seem to get it.

WHAT AM I UP TO?
  • Podcast Club. I've started doing a monthly podcast club for a client and we've done two months so far. I think it's working! I have at least 20 podcast episodes you can choose from, and we use the time to provide professional development, team building and interesting exchange. 
  • Strengths Finder Leadership Domains. If you're familiar with Strengths Finder, they have divided the 34 individual talents into four leadership domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship-Building, and Strategic Thinking. I'm doing a 4-month series with a client on these domains and they are providing excellent ways to reflect on how to motivate employees and maintain momentum.
  • Favorite new hacks. These are basic but helpful:
    • Chit Chat Cards. Looking for good icebreaker questions for 1:1's and team meetings? Sick of "How's it going?" or "What did you do this weekend?" These are great to get things going in new ways.
    • Four Zoom Chat TricksDid you know you can save a Zoom chat!? I sure didn't. Read on for more helpful tips...
  • Remote Team Building Resources. It's not quite ready for prime time, but I'm in the midst of building a resource list for you to be able to access for ideas on how to creatively build TRUST and CONNECTION on your team as we work in this remote environment.
Please feel free to reach out to set up a time to connect and work together. Be well. kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. 


Monday, January 4, 2021

January 2021: Reflection, Resources and Remote Work


Where do I begin?
In some ways I have some genuine energy around the beginning of this new year. I found the Thursday through Sunday breaks of Christmas and New Year's almost magical this time around... truly restful. I set aside time for reflection and really processed this past nightmare, er um, 2020 year. I even did some goal-setting, although I'm trying to be realistic about how much one can predict as to what lies ahead.

So this month's set of recommendations and resources are pretty hefty. I have used all of them personally or with clients. You may want to bookmark this post ~ it's a bounty of interesting stuff. Happy 2021, friends. Let's be in it together. In a socially distant way, anyway...


Reflection. Like I said, I had some extra EXTRA time for reflection during this break thanks to no travel and a very quiet household. In other words, do not be daunted by this list. Just pick one or two of them. I definitely recommend looking backward before moving forward.

  • 2020 Reflection Questions. I took some time to sit on these and review this year. Might be fun to share this with those close to you and see what they come up with. If you want to jumpstart some new journaling habits, you can also go here: https://bit.lyKSLDJournalPrompts  
  • Adobe My Creative Types. Sure sure, we all like online quizzes, right? But this has some intriguing, out-of-the-box questions. My results were spot-on and I'm using them in conjunction with my Strengths Finder profile to assess how I'm approaching things this year. (PS I'm a "Thinker")
  • BP 10 Assessment. This is an undersold tool created by Gallup. Especially if you are launching into a new endeavor or project (or want to assess if it's a good fit to do so), I recommend this tool. I also recommend that you process the results with someone to get the full impact. Talking about it somehow helps...
  • A "21 for 21" list.  List twenty-one things you’d like to do by 2022. These items can be easy or ambitious; one-time undertakings or habits that stretch for years; fun or...less fun. I've barely started mine but want to keep building it.
  • How to be a less-stressed leader. I just posted this on LinkedIn. Might be good to print out and place next to your desk?
  • Low-stress New Year's resolution options. If all of this overwhelm you, here are some easy-peasy, low-impact ways to make some tangible steps. Be gentle with yourself.

Resources. I think because most of my clients have been working from home, there weren't as many distractions this year (little travel, no holiday parties), so I was working with people till December 30! So here are some of the tools I passed along to them this month. Buckle up!
  • Talk Less. Listen More. Here's HowFavorite quote: "Listening is a skill. And as with any skill, it degrades if you don’t do it enough. Some people may have stronger natural ability while others may have to work harder, but each of us can become a better listener with practice."
  • 100 Tips for a Better LifeI don't know if "better" is the right word -- perhaps "more efficient"? Nevertheless, super intriguing list.
  • Better Ways to Manage Up and Out. HBR IdeaCast is a must-listen on my podcast list. This one is a great breakdown of the fuzzy concepts of soft power and how exactly to “manage up.(PS Here's an earlier post of mine on how to manage up...)
  • Use OKRs to Set Goals for Teams, Not IndividualsI thought this article did a good job delineating the management of teams vs individuals, and defining what are true *results*. Could be fodder for onboarding of new managers and/or an ongoing training conversation with experienced managers? 
  • 7 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Thinking of Making a Career Change During COVID-19. Shhhhh... Quite a few people have reached out for help as they consider a job change. This might feel hard to do as you try to keep up with a demanding job, but a lot of folks are getting a chance to ask themselves, "Do I actually like what I'm doing?" These questions might seem obvious, but I think they guide a productive and fruitful start to your thought process. 
  • Multi-Gen Workforce 2021 graphicGraphics are well... simplistic. But this might be a handy reference for leaders and managers as we lead a very diverse workforce these days of Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. There is a Grand Canyon of differences between these generations in work style, attitudes, etc. I do a lot of "translating" for leaders and employees in my consulting because both parties want to tear their hair out at times. Here is a secret decoder ring :)

Remote Work #WFH. Yep. This is definitely a thing. We are in the wild, wild West of the workplace as we adjust and reorganize due to the pandemic. As many pundits are saying, this is just speeding up the inevitable. Here are few things to leverage as we keep adjusting and learning. To quote Billy Beane in Moneyball, "Adapt or die!"
  • 8 Questions Every Manager Should Ask in One-on-One MeetingsSeems basic, but I recommend creating a template and tracking these questions month-to-month. Here's the document as a JPEG: https://bit.ly/1-1MgrQs 
  • Where Did the Commute Time Go? Offers several insights, borne out as well by my work with clients, that caught my attention. The article also describes some possible responses to these changes as the pandemic starts to resolve.
  • Pomodor app. Much of the conversation around remote work revolves around productivity. I think the question should shift to one of focus, and how to maintain motivation and momentum. This tool (hack?) is simple and practical, but it can be a powerful way to improve your productivity and focus. MANY of my clients are struggling during this pandemic to make deep, focused work happen consistently as they work from home and juggle multiple, daily zooms. This tool can block out distractions and articulate your intentions. It lets you set custom work and break times, track your work by labeling each session, and show or hide the timer in your browser’s menu bar. The app even works offline and syncs your stats across devices. Here is a graphic of how the Pomodoro approach works: https://bit.ly/KSLDPomodoroTool

Point to Ponder.

“If I was to sum up the single biggest problem of senior leadership in the Information Age,” four-star Marine Corps general and former secretary of defense James Mattis has said, “it’s lack of reflection. Solitude allows you to reflect while others are reacting. We need solitude to refocus on prospective decision-making, rather than just reacting to problems as they arise.”

Please feel free to reach out to me with feedback or questions at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Thanks for reading! 

Monday, November 30, 2020

December 2020: Self-Care, Sunny Days and Redeemed Suffering

 


This month's title only captures some of the goodies I have for this month, so dig in!

It’s not that you don’t care. It’s that you’re mentally exhausted. I'm sad I even have to post this article, but this is what life is like right now after so many months of Pandemic Life. Remember, stress and exhaustion don't usually hit all at once; they incrementally build up slowly over time and take over without us realizing it. This article is a good start in assessing how you are doing.

7 Questions You Should Ask If You Are Applying for a Remote Job. Remote jobs are the "new black" in 2020. BUT... not all jobs are created equal. I have worked remotely since 2009 and I vouch for the 7 questions in this article. 

Sunny Days Protect Against the Flu (and COVID?). I don't normally post health tips here as it is a realm beyond my expertise, but I am one giant fan of self-care (and the benefits of Vitamin D), and we need to seek self-care all the more aggressively as we move into winter. Should a sunny day offer itself, don't miss out!! 

Time Magazine's 100 Best Inventions for 2020. In the past two months I've offered these other links for mental health breaks: Oddly Satisfying and Amazing Fact Generator. This month's offering will not disappoint.

Mary Karr — The Master of Memoir on Creative Process and Finding Gifts in the SufferingSpellbinding podcast interview from start to finish, on the process of writing. If you want a masterclass on creativity, especially in light of personal trauma, look no further. I could have listened for many more hours. (P.S. I'm not the biggest fan of Tim Ferriss, the interviewer, but the guest, Mary Karr, more than makes up for Ferriss.)

What am I reading / watching / listening to? Oh GOSH, where to begin...

  • Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott. I am a HUGE fan. She makes me laugh out loud, and tells it like it is.
  • Where the Past Begins: Memory and Imagination by Amy Tan. Part memoir, part how-to on writing. A little rambling at times, but overall very moving and intriguing in its exploration of how we remember our past.
  • The Queen's Gambit on Netflix. I don't even know how to describe this. It's a little bit like a Wes Anderson movie, but it's also sort of a thriller. Who knew chess could be exciting?!
  • Song Exploder: How Music Gets Made. Just watch it on Netflix. SO GOOD.
  • Louder Than a Riot. This is a podcast -- I am 3 episodes in and I am HOOKED. If you liked Serial, you'll love this. It covers the "interconnected rise between hip-hop and mass incarceration," but even more than that.
  • Distributed. Another podcast, by the founder of WordPress, on remote work, AKA, being a "distributed workforce." Might sound nerdy... AND it is. But super interesting as we continue the WFH thang.
I'll end with this:
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”

―Wendell Berry

Hit me up with feedback or questions at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

NOVEMBER NINE, 2020

By my calculations we are entering the ninth month of the pandemic, so I will mark that milestone with nine recommendations for the month. At least I'm glad we're in this rollercoaster ride together!


  1. COVID-19 Won’t Change Us Forever. Though written in July (which seems forever ago!), I think the argument still stands. Here's a solid reminder: "Let’s give ourselves some credit. No matter how horrific the disaster, no matter how damaged our psyches, we wounded humans always bounce back." As we face a momentous election day this week, I recommend this brief one from The Atlantic.
  2. Informal Communication in an all-remote environment. OK, buckle up, because I've got a couple of key links here. I spent October taking an online course on How to Manage Remote Teams and have already applied things I've learned with three different teams. I certainly recommend the link at the start here, but I also recommend an interesting article from Fast Company magazine that sent me down this rabbit hole in the first place. And if you want the full downlow, here's the Gitlab Wiki that they use to run their fully remote company. PHEW! A whole lotta info, but the rules of work are changing under our feet (or in the cloud?) and we need to keep up. All the cheats are here. Reach out to me if you want/NEED more info!
  3. Coaching Problem Employees. This could be the most useful 36 minutes you could spend this month. Tune in to this "Dear HBR" podcast episode from 9-17-20, which includes Melvin Smith, professor of management at Case Western Reserve University. I especially liked this podcast because it really got in the weeds with specifics of how to address real life situations. I also turned it into a training module for one of my clients to use with their managers -- contact me if you want to receive that.
  4. How to Quickly Turn Emails into Tasks. One of my mantras with clients is "DO NOT use your email inbox as your to-do list!" As the article says, "It’s tempting to leave emails in your inbox because it’s easier, but then tasks you need to accomplish are buried in the incoming deluge of email." This gives you the skinny on how to make this happen in Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail. Nice!
  5. 6 COVID-19 terms that would have made no sense in January. Try to guess what they are before you hit the link. (P.S. This could be a good mixer to start off a team meeting too!)
  6. Navigating the Virtual Workplace in Stressful Times (scroll down about halfway down the page). This may sound a bit random, but there are important vocal, chemical and body dynamics at play during video conferencing: this podcast provides fascinating stuff on how seratonin, oxytocin and dopamine are at play in our social interactions... plus some interesting new insights on the importance of HANDS in video calls. I KNOW! 🤷🏽‍♂️
  7. Your comprehensive guide to job searching during the pandemic. I am coaching SEVERAL clients in job searching right now... you are not alone. This article gives a good jumpstart if you're feeling a bit paralyzed. I also posted this one in August: Your Ultimate Guide to Answering the Most Common Interview Questions, which helped one client get a job offer, and this one in May: How to Recover When Your Career Gets Derailed.
  8. "Oddly Satisfying." Need a mental health break during your day? This one is pretty darn great. I think there is some of that ASMR stuff going on too... How Things Are Made is rather diverting as well.
  9. Plague of Peacocks. No real purpose here. I just found it rather delightful. Favorite quote: "They’re like blimmin’ road runners.”

Hit me up with questions and feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Find additional resources at https://bit.ly/KSLDresources. Thanks for reading ~ share it with a friend.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

October 2020: Future Focus


This month's post is focusing on the (near) future. I am finding, both personally and with clients, that the pandemic has offered time to think and reflect, whether we want to or not. These links reflect some of the conversations I've been having as we shift from a sprint to a marathon.

✅ Americans might never come back to the office, and Twitter is leading the chargeKeep the subtitle in mind, because it's telling: "Twitter’s plans for work from home indefinitely have prompted a wave of copycats. But its transformation has been two years in the making — and the rest of America can learn some lessons." I recently presented a webinar on Managing Remote Teams, and during the final discussion, someone acknowledged that she had been doing her regular job, just making some tweaks to get things done remotely. What she now realizes is that she needs to craft an entirely new approach, and not just make things work. Can you relate??

🎇 How to Reimagine the Second Half of Your Career. Furloughs, loss of workplace, economic stress, time to think, you name it... all of these dynamics are prompting many people in my universe to consider changes in work. This article could get the conversation started. 

📌 Growing Interest in Alternative CredentialsI've seen this trend coming for quite awhile. I've talked with higher ed institutions and while they are open to it, the pace of innovation in academia is GLACIAL. We may see the tech sector be the one that really pushes this forward. Google and Amazon are already offering options to their employees in this space. Listen and learn: we'll be hearing much more about certificates and badges in the future!

😳 Four COVID ImpactsEveryone and their brother is prognosticating these days about where we are headed, but I think this one has some calm, helpful insights for next steps. This statement stays with me: "The pandemic is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset things that aren’t working or to try out new things."  I also found this article super interesting: It's Getting Better AND Worse, from Bloomberg News.

🥳 Need a Break? Here are three very fun, mindless diversions to give you a mental health break...

  • The Amazing Fact Generator. Keep this one open for that random piece of trivia that you can drop on somebody on a moment's notice.
  • WFH Zoom Fail. There are far too many of these available online, but this is a good one.
  • The 2020 Marist Mindset ListThese lists have been compiled since 1998, originally by Beloit College, serving as fascinating "cultural compasses." This year's entry opens with this: "They were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and have entered college during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this year’s incoming group of first-year college students, going to college might even require staying home for remote classes; some may simply be taking a gap year."
Current Favorites.

KS Leadership Development Updates. Nothing earth-shattering here, but I want to point out two resources that are available to you:
  1. COVID-19 Resources. I have been trying to take in as much as I can in terms of ALL aspects of the pandemic. I maintain the column on the right side of this blog on a regular basis with resources that address a variety of the things impacted by all of this. Feel free to send other recommendations.
  2. KSLD Resources Drive. I upload many of the tools here that I use with clients. Hopefully they will "stir the pot" for you if you need some ideas for leadership development, team-building, professional development, etc.  
Thanks for reading... feel free to send feedback and questions to kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. And forward this to a friend.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Sept 2020: Happy Other New Year?

Blogger and author Gretchen Rubin says, “September is the other January — a clean slate, a fresh start, a chance to use new pencils, fresh notebooks, and begin again.” Additionally, September is the month of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. This year it begins on September 18. If there was ever a time for a do-over, a fresh start, it would be NOW, amiright? 

All that to say, PHEW, this year has been a humdinger and we're only 3/4 of the way there. To prepare for the "new year" (and to get a little R&R), I just returned from a lovely week in Yosemite. Fortunately, the national parks are doling out passes very gingerly, so the park was incredibly UNcrowded and there was good mask-wearing in all group areas.

I took this photo on a walk one evening after dinner as a reminder of what's ahead... a long journey that feels a bit lonely at times. But still has beauty all around if we look for it.



While I certainly spent much of the time resting, being outdoors and reading things for fun, I also used the week to step back and reflect on what has happened since the pandemic. I would say that the majority of my work currently centers around assisting leaders and employees in managing the stresses, strains, and unknowns as we continue to work remotely, for the most part. And for better or worse, I have worked with a broad spectrum of contexts: higher ed, retail, non-profit, technology, churches, and start-ups. So while I can't sound all fancy and tell you I've been doing some really high-level research on this topic, I can give you my ground-level impressions gained from day-to-day work with many people.

So for this month's blog post, rather than give a list of valuable resources that I've used with clients in the last month, I'm going to share some of my TEN BIG AHA’s about working from home (WFH). This also makes this post a bit longer than normal ~ let me know what you think! Much of my thoughts are framed by a 7-article series from Harvard Business Review called The Big Idea for July 2020. I would give you the links, but you can only access them through subscription. 

Here goes!

The pandemic didn’t “cause” any of our problems; it just accelerated them. All of the things we are currently struggling through in terms of the workplace and the economy overall were already present before the pandemic. The shopping mall was already waning; retail brick-and-mortar were already deeply threatened by online shopping; we already had an abundance of over-priced restaurants; multiple employers were grappling with the question of whether they should allow employees to work from home or some sort of hybrid situation; our addiction to air travel was contributing greatly to climate change; higher ed is ridiculously expensive and the resulting loan debt is unmanageable  — not to mention that the current structures and degrees in higher ed are somewhat out of date in terms of the skills needed in the marketplace…. So many other things could be listed. Suffice it to say, all of our current challenges just came faster than we expected, and now we are being forced to deal with them rather than keep being in denial.

The 21st century workplace has been in deep transition and transformation for years. The pandemic has accelerated the evolution away from the office as a productivity space to something else — a learning space and a space to solve complex problems. We already saw this during the 2008 recession as coworking spaces and the gig economy took hold. Some ridiculous percentage of workers in the US are independent contractors (I can't find reliable data -- 20% to 40%?), and aren’t connected to one particular office. The pandemic will only decouple the worker from the office even further. Not to mention that the concentration of certain industries to certain cities has made the cost of living completely unamanageable (hello Silicon Valley and SF, among others!), so it was inevitable that the 21st century workplace would go under profound transformation. Companies are currently building the plane as they fly it, as the saying goes, in this regard.

This doesn’t mean offices are irrelevant. They can be crucial for a start-up, where the key players need to work together in nimble and catalytic fashion, solving problems and making strategic decisions together. This is also needed around big machine learning projects (like I even know what that means! Just trusting techy bros on this ones...) involving big data, AI, etc. 

We will not know the impact of all this on the physical workplace for 12 to 18 months. Not only is this due to the fluid nature of the pandemic and the economy, but also because companies are usually locked in leases that won’t be renewing for 12 to 18 months.  STAY TUNED.

HOWEVER, people are realizing that they miss things about their workspace that have little to do with production. They really need the office for socialization. People need to convene in person at least once a year. PS The lack of socialization is truly isolating for some; and for others, they are profoundly struggling with anxiety and stress related to non-work issues that are emerging from this year's MANY struggles. I have worked with several clients to create "safe spaces" to talk about these things.  It has proven very fruitful.

There are many things people like about working from home.
  • No more irrelevant travel
  • More focused time -- fewer pop-in interruptions, less random conversations.
  • Shorter meetings
  • More flexible time with family
  • No commute!
  • It took awhile, but many are finally in the groove of WFH
            ❼  Why is this working better now? Remote work has been seen as less valuable in the past and employers have resisted it. But now...
            • Everyone has to do it;
            • Thus we had to collectively figure out challenges.
            • Before, remote work was compared to the office, where we’d never have kids or pets in the picture! So it seemed less professional and legitimate?
            • In the past, virtual workers felt "lesser than" and left out - no longer!
                Leaders have a big job moving forward. They must be more invested in clear communication. One almost has to become the Chief Repetition Officer because collective vision, values and culture will not exist in one place or be naturally absorbed.

                Managers are bearing the brunt of the shift to remote work. Occupied by supporting employees, managing dispersed teams, nurturing connections. Increased frequency of 1:1’s. Less team collaboration time needed as a result, so meetings can be shorter. Managers also should know the habits and styles of their team; figure out best focus time, best meeting times. Also important to establish expectations in terms of turnaround for email, messaging. (This could be an entirely separate post - contact me if you have questions...)

                LAST BUT NOT LEAST... Our job moving forward will be to be committed long-term to keeping our work human. There will be a temptation to move even more work to digital platforms and keep tasks and project management front and center rather than keep working on trust-building and maintaining relational bonds. 


                All that to say, workplace stress looks really different now. Again, feel free to contact me with questions and feedback. I really have talked to so many different about their situations and would love to assist you! (Or just listen and commiserate 😅) Email me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. 

                FINAL ENCOURAGEMENT.
                I've been reading some poetry at night to end the day on a calmer, more thoughtful note. Simple words from Mary Oliver:

                Instructions for living a life. 
                Pay attention. 
                Be astonished. 
                Tell about it. 


                Thanks for reading!
                 

                FAQ

                Hearty Bread for the Whole Journey? aka, "What's with the vague subtitle?"

                If you have sat through (endured? enjoyed?) one of my Strengths Finder presentations, you know that I often refer back to my life as an eter...