From the perspective of ecosystems, biodiversity, and resilience, Covid-19 is a gift that no one expected. We have once in a century opportunity for creative leadership.
This camera trap photo at dam in the Timbavati (Greater Kruger), overlays the action. A leopard with two cubs, hyena bloated with an evening feast, porcupine, dwarf mongoose, baboons and spurfowl.
World-wide, the consuming monster of humanity has retreated. As 4.5 billion humans are restrained, nature is flourishing and demonstrating incredible resilience. Many have advocated, suffered, and prayed for this reality.
In our gardens, birdlife is noisy. Swans, dolphins, fish and birds are returning to our waterways. Sea-life is on the brink of a massiverecovery. The skies are clear, pollution has dropped to levels that are saving millions of lives – countless billions if we consider our fellow species.
While human leadership presses for consumption and economic growth, we have been granted a precious opportunity to pause, reflect and respond with wisdom.
The biological resilience on full display around us, is good for us too. Our suburbs are quiet and clean. Traffic jams, manic flying and endless meetings have dropped away. We have precious time with loved ones. We can read, reflect and initiate a more contemplative path.
Yes, many are frustrated, lonely and afraid. What a good time to learn about and practice the innumerable resilience skills that we have not found time for – walk, breathe, stretch, sleep, read and debate. Rather than wailing and gnashing about mental health, perhaps we can appreciate, relax and allow recovery to take place. The very insanity you long for, is the cause of most suffering.
Environmentalists, biologists and physicians have begged the world for exactly what this media-hyped pandemic has delivered. Where have their voices gone? We should be celebrating, sharing and redoubling our resolve to lean into more sustainable solutions.
The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging us, but in comparison to the annual cost of preventable deaths, it does not rank in the top 20 for this year.
We will save and enrich many more lives, by grasping this opportunity to bring restraint, wisdom and deliberate stewardship to our planet.
Re-imagine your life
Relax, look around, be curious, and apply creative optimism
Take this opportunity to become a better version of yourself
Treasure your loved ones and make time to deepen connections
Celebrate and support the resilience of nature
Re-imagine your lifestyle
Get rid of a gas-guzzling car or switch to an electric vehicle
Maybe you might consider solar power
Do you really need all that junk-food, drunkenness and revelry?
Commit to and lock-down your new daily practices
Re-imagine your career or work
Could you work from home more often?
What about testing the calling you feel?
How could you collaborate more widely through digital?
What might you do more actively in your local community?
Is this an opportunity for a family business?
As always, VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) times call for leadership. We know that pandemics, economies, politics and society are complex systems that will interact in unpredictable and chaotic ways. Leadership is already severely tested. Few political systems have the balance of authority, responsibility and freedom to ride this black swan.
Thus, we find ourselves in dogmatic short-term manoeuvring and grand-standing. For the real leaders, this is the opportunity of the century.
Congratulations to Macron for suggesting that we call a global ceasefire. The world could unite against the greed-fuelled violence that always punishes the poor. If the major powers agree to stop supplying, funding and stoking conflict, developing economies may recover.
Leaders and political systems get rich on weapons manufacture. Let’s call it. Enough!
If ever, leaders were to nudge our transition to clean power it is now. Oil demand has collapsed. High tech, clean energy is ripe to mature and replace fossil fuels. We could tax fossil fuels and incentivise clean power.
Leaders and political systems thrive on oil. Enough!
We are on the threshold of smart work and intelligent lifestyles. Virtual platforms and real-time global transactions could massively reduce travel. We know and can track the key lifestyle factors that help us thrive. Cars, late nights, flights, substance abuse and sloth could be constrained. Home-based offices and community centric work and recreation will expand. Smarter life at lower cost is already in play.
Leaders and political systems do thrive on excess and impulse. Enough!
We must protect the planet from ourselves. Some regions respect and treasure nature. Most exploit whatever they can. This Covid-19 pause is the perfect opportunity to stop waging war on nature. Might we co-operate to protect critical ecosystems and crush the scourge of forest burning, water pollution, wild-life trade and over-fishing. Ecotourism is the perfect opportunity for biodiversity, climate hedging and economic activity.
Rise up young leaders. Enough of pale and male dinosaurs. Where are the young people? Where are the female leaders? Where is your voice Greta? Jacinda? Erna? Katrin? Sanna? Reader?
If you fail to take this opportunity to re-imagine our world and our lives, you are abdicating to a century of regret.
Step up and lead. Many of us are ready to help you.
Over the past decade, flexible working arrangements have become standard practice around the world. Indeed, some distributed teams and freelancers of the gig economy may never actually meet their colleagues in person. For many organisations, it makes sense to allow office staff to telecommute. The arrangement saves money, reduces transit time and carbon footprint, increasesmillennial engagementand supports diversity. Gallup revealed that54% of office workerssay they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.
Working from home – but not by choice
Flexible working may once have been considered a perk but the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in what some have labelled theworld’s biggest work from home experiment, forcing thousands of employees to work remotely if their job allows for it. Immediately after the outbreak, an estimated 60 million Chinese workers were placed under full or partial lockdown. As COVID-19 spread, organisations across South East Asia, then Italy and the USA implemented emergency remote working arrangements. Some employees are allowed into the office on roster, while others are being asked to work from home until further notice. Companies including Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple haverestricted employee traveland requested people stay at home where possible.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, is a proponent of remote working and optimistic about the shift.
This may be simple for a tech company with a young workforce, equipped with modern laptops and robust cloud infrastructure. But many organisations have been caught off guard. They have no business continuity plan for a suddenly distributed workforce. Most production lines can’t function without human labour and, as a result, China’s manufacturing production has fallen torecord lows. Global supply chains have been seriously impacted and, with demand waning, the global economy is slowing, possiblytowards a recession.
For security reasons, many jobs can’t be easily shifted to a remote arrangement. Miltary and banking are two obvious areas. Nevertheless, COVID-19 is going to trigger experiments that will test human, technological and organisational resilience and ingenuity.
Remote working to maintain productivity
Countries like Singapore are less vulnerable than many others. Flexible working arrangementsare commonplaceand have made it possible for top talent to deliberately balance their careers with lifestyle. Companies like Dell are also prepared, having initiatedworkplace transformationprograms back in 2009.
Organisations of the future will be looking at these examples of flexible working success and reimagining business continuity. What happens in a future where COVID-19 is but one of many threats, ranging from virus to terror, climate to political unrest? Could your organisation continue operations if the office was shut down? Is your technology infrastructure capable of handling the shift? Can your managers lead remotely? Perhaps, most importantly, are employees equipped to deal with the challenges of being physically isolated, potentially for long periods of time?
Remote working is not a new idea
Opportunities for remote working haveincreased dramaticallysince the advent of the internet. Those with specific skills can live productive – even nomadic – lives equipped with just a laptop and wi-fi.
Working from the bedroom (or beach) is a dream for many but the reality may present a shock. Some people thrive in their own space, operating without the distractions inherent in the modern, open-plan office. AChinese remote working studyshowed that employees were 13% more productive at home, mainly due to the quieter environment. As you may expect, they also requested less sick days. Think about our ancestors: we evolved hunting and gathering in small, close-knit groups. In the evenings the tribe would gather and tell stories around the fire, then rest and repeat at sunrise. Public transport, open-plan offices and densely populated cities are not our natural environment. A home in the suburbs might not be such a bad place to work after all.
In reality, however, most home environments are not optimised for serious productivity. There may be family members present during the day or no suitable area available for work. The dining room table is fine for the occasional email but video conferencing won’t work if there are toddlers crying in the background. The boundaries between work and home can easily blur and many employees will find themselves working late, suffering disrupted sleep routines, experiencing resentment from partners and kids, and feeling lonely.
Companies need to lead the way
Governments are understandably focused on the medical implications of a pandemic like COVID-19. Organisations will need to lead the way in terms of securing productivity and supporting the livelihood of those in their care during turbulent times.
McKinsey’s report,COVID-19: Implications for business, states, “Protect your employees. The COVID-19 crisis has been emotionally challenging for many people, changing day-to-day life in unprecedented ways. For companies, business as usual is not an option. They can start by drawing up and executing a plan to support employees that is consistent with the most conservative guidelines that might apply and has trigger points for policy changes. Some companies are actively benchmarking their efforts against others to determine the right policies and levels of support for their people. Leaders must communicate with employees with the right level of specificity and frequency.”
At the Resilience Institute, we work with organisations around the globe to provide assessment and training – oftendelivered digitally– that equips individuals with action plans to improve their resilience and leaders with insights on how best to look after their people in times of crisis. Reporting on 60 factors of resilience we believe the future lies in providing targeted, relevant support, at the right time, wherever employees might be.
As such, we have prepared the following guide to help organisations equip their teams and leaders for success.
10 Tips for Remote Working Success
1. Set up a dedicated workspace
Employers are probably aware that most employees work from home even if they have not signed a flexible working arrangement. Areport by Fortunereveals that 68% of people check work email before 8 am, 50% check it while in bed, 57% check on family outings, and 38% regularly check at the dinner table.
If we expect employees to be productive in the home environment it is necessary for them to create boundaries, both physical and time. Most organisations will be unable to ship standing desks to every staff member’s home but some simple tips will improve safety and wellbeing.
Considering that staff will primarily be using laptops it is important that they learnoptimal postureand take regular breaks. If budgets allow, companies may choose to ship a laptop stand plus external keyboard and mouse to each employee who is working from home.
To assist with focus in a potentially noisy environment, employees might choose to wear noise-cancelling headphones. For those in sales roles where client interaction will be required it is worthwhile investing in quality USB headsets that transmit and receive clear sound.
Encourage employees to blur their background if necessary during video calls (Skype has a setting for this) and to use an appropriate lighting source if client communication is necessary. A small, clip-onLED ring lightcan provide excellent illumination for a few dollars.
2. Encourage communication
Many employees enjoy the social aspect of work. Being suddenly isolated can result in feelings of loneliness. Motivation may decrease.
Use group conversations to stimulate formal and informal communication. Consider a “virtual watercooler” where employees can discuss a range of topics. Create a thread called “Working from Home” so people can share anecdotes, tips and success stories.
Encourage video calls whenever possible. Being able to view faces will reduce ambiguity and build a sense of connection. Equip employees with some guidelines around video call best practice, especially those who may be new to the technology.
For calls with large groups, nominate a conversation facilitator who ensures each person has an opportunity to contribute. Some people may interrupt or speak out of turn so create some protocols for group call etiquette.
Keep virtual meetings short. People will often multitask (that’s why having cameras on is useful) and they’ll almost certainly zone out of anything beyond an hour. Allow rest breaks for meetings longer than an hour.
Don’t see COVID-19 as an excuse to roll out more systems and software. Starting a Slack board may seem cool but how distracted are your employees already? Can you make use of existing tools, like Yammer, Skype, Hangouts or Sharepoint?
Encourage employees to have virtual coffee breaks where they can openly discuss non-work topics. Using technology effectively can help maintain and even build company culture. It will be integral to human success in a physically disconnected future.
3. Be empathetic
Employees will be working from the sanctuary of their home space and this brings with it all kinds of challenges, from theWhite Tennis Shoe Syndrome(finding any distraction more appealing than the current task) to the lure of the fridge, to kids who also happen to be locked down at home.
While running remote working experiments you’ll connect with employees who’ve just woken up after a rough night. You’ll hear screaming in the background. Some people will be hyperproductive (take note) and some will be wallowing in procrastination and doubt. Managers are not immune to this – they may feel the pressure more than most.
Everyone responds differently to challenge so ask people how they’re doing and show them that you care. Emphasise the importance of the organisational mission and how much their contribution counts towards the greater goals.
Be really clear about performance objectives but allow space for adaptation to the new arrangement.
4. Create a culture of recognition
High-recognition companies have31% lower voluntary turnoverthan companies with poor recognition cultures. Use remote working as a way to encourage recognition, both peer-to-peer and from leaders.
A simple first step is saying thank you. The next step is public recognition. When teams are distributed geographically they miss the small wins – things that went well but don’t deserve a group email. Take the opportunity to recognise small wins by broadcasting daily or weekly group updates that are dedicated to good news, gratitude and success stories.
5. Hold virtual training sessions
When group workshops and conferences are impossible due to the risk of infection, employee training does not need to stop. Most training companies can offer webinar versions of their content, enabling employees to dial in remotely.
Tools likeZoomenable video meetings and webinars, with advanced functionality like chat and breakout rooms for one-on-one discussions. Zoom’s share price increased by 67% in 2020 withseveral large conferencesswitching to digital-only format.
Virtual summits and training sessions make sense, both environmentally and in terms of limiting the spread of viruses. They may not be quite as fun as a face-to-face event but they can certainly still be effective.
The Resilience Institute offers introductorywebinarsand deep-dives into specific areas including bounce, sleep, focus, emotional intelligence and high performance.
6. Encourage transparency
In times of crisis, transparency builds trust. From a team productivity perspective, shared task lists can help groups collaborate more efficiently. Tools like Trello (free), JIRA (paid) andMicrosoft Planner(included with Office 365) enable the quick creation of boards (projects), tasks and delegation.
Highly visual, shared boards become the central repository of work in progress and are much easier to manage than email. Leaders can quickly identify which employees need additional support, based on the number of tasks assigned and forthcoming deadlines.
Consider letting teams explore agile ways of working. You may discover an emergent workflow that forms the basis for future business continuity planning.
From the perspective of company communications, it is important that leaders maintain contact and share important updates as swiftly as possible. Crisis situations are an opportunity to strengthen relationships and practice real-time resilience. Transparent and authentic communication creates a foundation of workplace trust.
7. Offer virtual wellbeing training
Employees will take time to adapt to a completely new way of working. Some will take advantage of the extra time and go for walks or attend group fitness classes. Others may lack the motivation to get out of their pyjamas.
Working from home is an opportunity to save money and improve diet by preparing meals at home. Encourage employees to move throughout the day and provide them with resources to encourage mindfulness and calm. Promote healthy sleep habits and discourage working late.
Keep training sessions short and focused. Encourage the use of self-assessment tools to build personal insight.
The remote working experiment is an opportunity to develop high-performance habits, both individually and as a team. How about reserving the first 90 minutes in everyone’s diary for Flow State – the most important task/s for the day. After this, we share a collective break (meet at the virtual watercooler / Slack), then batch process emails and make video calls.
Some might schedule a second “flow zone” for the afternoon, followed by a break and time for recovery.
Bear in mind that some people will have kids arriving home in the afternoon, so they will compensate by working late. Be empathetic and discourage extremely late nights and weekends online. Leaders will need to model these behaviours because remote-working culture starts from the top.
The dangers of long hours arewell documentedanda studyshowed that upper-level managers who used their phones after 9 p.m. experienced decreases in quantity and quality of sleep.
Libramont Regenerative Alliance : Messages from the Woods
The Resilience Institute Europe had the honour to participate in a unique event reuniting more than 100 business leaders, philosophers, scientists and experts in the woods of Bertrix in Belgium.
Surrounded by a beautiful and old forest, we brainstormed and exchanged ideas to rethink our economic and entrepreneurial model and move towards a regenerative economy. We were all truly inspired by speakers among which Nicolas Hulot, Frédéric Lenoir,Bertrand Piccard, Gauthier Chapelle and other experts, and by leaders of large and small companies showing us that change is possible. It led to very rich dialogues and insights. I personally went home with 5 main messages.
1-The need for change is super urgent.
We all know that climate change is an undeniable threat to the planet. Even though we know this, the facts, trends and evolutions as exposed by the experts were truly chocking. We need to hear these messages much more. Yes, Greta, we need to panic!
2-Communication does matter.
While panic and fear are good to wake us up, we need to find inspiring and positive ways to communicate, uniting everyone behind this project. People will only take actions if they are touched in the heart, if they feel inspired and guided by a purpose. We need leaders, in all areas of society, who can guide us and inspire us, even if the path is not clear and no one has “the” solution. Events like Regenerative Alliance, initiatives as Sign for my future, organizations as B-Corp are very hopeful signals. We need more of those initiatives and courageous people who are willing to stand up and take the lead.
3-Nature can inspire solutions
Biomimicry seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. As an example, in the late 90’s Japanese engineers modeled a bullet train after a kingfisher, to solve the loud booming sound when the train was exiting typical train tunnels. Janine Benuys said: “When we look at what is truly sustainable, the only real model that has worked over long periods of time is the natural world.” We do have huge room for improvement in that area, reconnecting ourselves much more systematically with Nature as a source of inspiration for seeking new solutions. We need to change our mindset, become humbler and understand that every species, including humans has a reason for fitting in this world. Isn’t it time that we open up, go beyond analytical thinking and trust our intuitive brain much more?
4-Start with Self
“Be the change that you want to see in the world”. The challenge that we face is so big that we cannot solve it using the same old paradigm as the one that brought us to this urgency state. We need to enable all of our dimensions – body, heart, mind and spirit – to be ready. This is at the very core of our work at The Resilience Institute Europe. After these two days, I am even more convinced that resilience is an accelerator for the change that we seek. Science shows us that we can all learn the skills to become resilient; it requires reflection, awareness and daily practice. Personal transformation will facilitate collective transformation. As the Dalai Lama stated in a funny way: “if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”.
5-Politicians, Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Business leaders: unite!
Building on personal transformation, collective transformation will emerge faster. This requires all actors in society to collaborate and roll up their sleeves together.
The Regenerative Alliance was the best proof that that once you bring people together, it broadens the mind and opens the heart. It is of course easier to do this with people who are already convinced. Convincing the rest of the population is an enormous and complex challenge, with many consequences for all. How to do this without social chaos? Innovative and courageous leaders might well show us a path…
Article by : Katrien Audenaert, Partner The Resilience Institute Europe
Our life is a blaze of consciousness in an eternity of emptiness. Behind us is 13.8 billion years of an expanding universe. Ahead may be 2.8 (or more) billion years. Human life is a fraction of a billionth of time. So short and so precious. So meaningless and yet so real.
The transcendentals since the time of Plato have been Truth (science or logic), Beauty (arts or aesthetics) and Goodness (religion or ethics).
In 2018 we are poised on an unsettling edge. On one hand, there has never been a better time to be alive. We are healthier, living longer, richer, educated, and enjoying life in a way unimaginable to previous generations (seeEnlightenment Now, Stephen Pinker, 2018). On the other, population pressure is consuming and cooking the planet. Social withdrawal, anxiety and depression continue to push one in four into mindless suffering.
In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world that keeps accelerating, we feel like we are clinging on. Some have given up, let go and feel disenfranchised (see Yuval Noah HarariTedTalk). Harari says belief in the global economy multiplied by liberal democracy has collapsed. Today, more people die from eating too much than from starvation. More people kill themselves than are killed by wars, crime and terrorism combined. The current prescriptions are not working.
We need a new story.
The Resilience Institute is delighted to release our2018 Global Resilience Report. Our purpose is to help people bounce, grow, connect and flow. We aim to reduce suffering and enhance the physical, emotional and cognitive experience of life.
In this report, we explore measures of resilience in 21,239 people and see what changes after an intervention. We posed six questions based on 3,963 people who completed an assessment before and after resilience training interventions:
1. Can we bounce from distress and reduce suffering?
Depressed symptoms reduce by an average of 30% (29-86%) Distress symptoms reduce by an average of 32% (28-82%) Key improvements in insomnia, self-doubt, self-critical, stress symptoms and hostility
2. Can we learn to be calm, present and alert?
Stress mastery improves by 33.3% (27-70%) lead by relaxation and presence
3. Can we improve our physical wellbeing?
Physical wellbeing scores improve by 46.9% lead by improvements in health awareness, fitness, sleep quality and nutrition
4. Can we develop emotional skills and empathy?
Emotional intelligence scores improve by 25.3% lead by assertiveness, empathy, and emotional insight
5. Can we train our minds and make better decisions?
Cognitive scores improve by 35% lead by optimism, decisiveness, agility, and focus
6. Can we find fulfilment, connection and flow in work?
Noble aspirations such as compassion, purpose, fulfilment and flow increase this category score by 29.6%
We will leave you to take your time exploring the full report and the data. In short, small and practical steps in the right direction secure a massive impact. On average the resilience ratio of participants before and after an intervention improved by 38% on our growth ratio.
We are hugely proud of our clients, their leaders and our teams. We have made a difference to human life. Suffering has been alleviated. People are growing at physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual levels.
Further, when people are resilient they take better care of others and make wiser decisions in life, business and nature.
Using an evidence-based approach (The True), an integral model (The Good) and an aspiring vision for the possibility of being human (The Beautiful), we are making a small steps toward a good life.
A good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Bertrand Russell