Well over a year into this, the comments in the Wall Street Journal are sad, perplexing, and give pause to what we have done all at the same time:
After more than a year of working virtually during the pandemic, executives in banking and technology are pushing back on the idea that workers should be able to do their jobs entirely from home in the coming months. Though some said they expect more flexible work arrangements to endure going forward, they say there are clear signs of burnout in an era of nonstop video calls.
Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, told a virtual audience of The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit Tuesday that he had personally experienced Zoom fatigue. On one day last year, he said he had 19 Zoom meetings in a row.
The post goes on to report that, “like many companies, Zoom is planning an eventual return to its offices,” phasing in on-site work. The inquiry really should be what is holding these firms back? Many CEOs like that of JPMorgan have observed what anyone over the age of 50 knows:
Remote work doesn’t work well for generating new ideas, preserving corporate culture and competing for clients—or “for those who want to hustle,” Mr. Dimon said, adding he has been back in the office for months.
The technology is wonderful, and for working on specific projects that require a shared document or dataset, Zoom, Teams, et. al., work exceedingly well. But you cannot replicate the energy of face to face collaboration, and I think our culture would do well re-thinking some of what we have done over the last year.
So many great things have come to us thanks to breakthrough innovation, technology and an avalanche of accompanying information. When evaluating the effects of all of this on culture, the biggest challenge does not seem to be determining the inherent good or bad of a shiny object or service delivered by it, but our management of it. It’s simply human nature, we are given to a lack of self control. Fortunately, an area of study that has continued in recent years in both breadth and depth, is neuroscience, and how our brains interact and interface with many aspects of life. It is no surprise then when we hear from both medicine and science that staring at shiny objects before bed actually has [potentially significant] negative implications on how well we function.
Reference: Business Insider – produced by Justin Gmoser.
Sometimes when I procrastinate, I find it is out of a sheer overwhelming sense of dread. This dread is knowing what needs to be done, and for whatever reason, perhaps outside pressure, truncated schedule, the mental or physical output of energy needed, or maybe all contribute to coming up with any and every rationale for not concentrating on the most important thing to be doing right now. An article that appeared in the Journal of Psychology from a decade ago asserts that this “self-regulatory avoidance reaction” or our inability to exercise the willpower or self-control needed to concentrate or direct our energies to the right task, is “core central to procrastination.” It is suggested that part of the resolution to procrastination is associated with understanding the behavior and then avoiding it. In other words, admit it with the intention of quitting it.
In my early college years, the need for self-control in time management was self-obviating, and I regularly admitted it. And the discovery of the to do list was nothing short of revelatory. This was first suggested to me by a professor my very first finals week when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The reasoning was, “get all these items you are thinking about ‘out of your head’ so you can concentrate on the most important task right now, then, move on to the next one and so on.” The very practical (and in some ways original work in modern time management), How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, outlines various tests and exercises for coming up with goals, objectives, and prioritization, and listing them out in different groupings, with each group having a special purpose, a similar method. Followed by the addition of monitoring safeguards similar to those set forth in the Journal of Psychology.
For everyone within the organization from the admin to executive leadership and everyone in between, these principals are important. But for the executive leader, self-control in one’s use of time has tremendous implications. And this is our leverage: prioritization, improvement and innovation for the purpose of actually working smarter, rather than longer and longer. It’s one or the other. I have observed many over the years who put in excessive hours and sadly, this does not automatically translate into a great team builder, great leader, or someone who really takes advantage of the of the resources available to them, just someone who seems to be defined by long hours. I have also worked in these environments and have put in excessive hours myself because the whole culture and system required it, and I really do not think it has benefited me at all, besides reinforcing my work ethic. Learning to leverage available resources (the most significant by far being people) is critical to success. Time has it’s limitations – 168 hours per week – leverage is potentially limitless. As Alan Lakein encouraged his readers forty or so years ago to answer, “what is the most important thing to be doing right now?” Stop procrastinating and do it now.