Morra Aarons-Mele’s The Anxious Achiever podcast explores the intersection of mental health and work, and how we can all do both better. I joined Morra (who also happens to be one of my favorite people) and Amelia Ransom, SPHR, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Smartsheet, during a recent episode to answer listener questions about how to get what you need from work. The whole episode is great. My segment starts at 27:00. We answered questions about working remotely, and what it means for your mental health, your management, and your future success.
But first we looked at why work feels so messy right now, especially as many organizations mandate a return to office with a set number of days or a certain percentage of time onsite. The problem is they’re trying to policy their way to consistency with a one-size fits all approach.
But that doesn’t work for everybody. (Such as the 44% of employees who need to be onsite full time due to the nature of their jobs.) So, what’s happening is certain teams or employees start to ignore the mandates. Then it becomes management by exception. Then everybody ignores it. And it just doesn’t work.
We need to look at the way we will work “next” from a completely different perspective. Meaning we don’t start with the “where,” which is the focus right now. Instead, we need to lead with the work, itself – what do we need to do, THEN answer how, when, and where we do that work best.
Everyone needs to be part of that conversation – the strategy development – including the nearly half of those that cannot work remotely. But they can still work flexibly in other ways. (There’s more to flexible work than just hybrid/remote!) That’s where the fairness happens. In the conversation. In the process. The outcomes – the flexible model — will vary.
We also talked about the misperception that wanting to work flexibly means you don’t want to work as hard. That’s not what flexible work is about. It’s about being intentional, thoughtful, and purposeful about how we work, and have a life.
Whether you’re a manager or an individual contributor, this episode should interest you. Listen for more on:
- Managing a hybrid team and making hybrid work, work
- Ensuring fair outcomes around requests for workplace flexibility
- How managers and individual contributors can work flexibly and effectively
- Setting boundaries and parameters
- Minimizing anxiety