What started as the potential for a balanced life has in many cases turned into longer hours. Adam Grant said, “If you’re working from home, the pandemic has extended the average work day by 2-3 hours”. Saved commuting time has been absorbed by back-to-back zoom calls and home schooling.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can experiment with fewer repercussions because everyone is experimenting. Try 6-hour work days, compressed hours, block out and safeguard personal time by boldly detailing it in your work calendar. Maybe indicate your planned working hours in your email signature so people know when to expect a response, relieving you from the burden of feeling like you have to respond to everything immediately. If we can carve out time for ourselves, we increase our ability to improve productivity and quality.
It’s the old adage: if you want something done, ask a busy person.
We are often asked about the barriers to inclusion. Obvious ones include inflexible and exclusionary working patterns, affinity bias, and full on racism and misogyny. However, a quiet barrier that has increased massively in our experience is cognitive load. When you finish a day of 8 back to back zooms your ability to rest between meetings is gone and your empathy levels are depleted.
This morning, a client “confessed” how they had lost the ability to finish sentences because everyone talks over each other on the video chat. Not only are meetings back to back; they are in some cases more intense because you can’t read the signals as well, and have to be constantly poised to jump in.
It’s time to take control of our days – make 30-minute meetings 20 minutes, and 1-hour meetings 45 minutes. In between, get up, stretch, call a loved one, get some fresh air and perspective. Block out time for exercise, friends, a walk. Be vulnerable and show it in your public calendar and set an example to others. Taking an hour in the middle of the day to go for a walk, even a walking meeting, in addition to lunch, is a perfectly justifiable antidote to longer hours. Your creative soul needs it and you humanly deserve it.
It’s a fact that some people are more empowered than others. People have different levels of psychological safety and confidence to even ask. But know there are lots of people (including us) who will gladly partner with you to help you take control of your working day to fight fatigue, to safeguard thinking space and to achieve greater happiness and productivity.
Inclusion is a long road and we need you for the journey.