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Return to Office With Brent

by Spiwe Jefferson
July 16th 2021

With many employers making noises about returning to the office, what if you are not delighted at the prospect? How do you navigate yet another change in a long line of life upheavals? Join me and ... More

Are you anxious stressed mind racing. Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you looking for secrets to peace and a happier life joints? Be way jefferson certified mindfulness practitioner and lawyer dedicated to helping you learn to apply mindfulness meditation to the personal and professional challenges of everyday life, harness the power of mindfulness meditation to live and work to your highest and best purpose. Starting With just five minutes a day. Hi and welcome to Mindful in five where we learn how to apply mindfulness and meditation to the challenges of everyday life in bite size episodes for people with no time. My name is pua jefferson and today is a landmark day for this podcast because we have our very first guest who will share with us how he is tackling the challenges related to returning to the office.

Most of his workers were displaced by the mandatory shutdowns back in March of 2020 but as we record this episode, many companies at least in the United States are gearing up to get employees back into the office and is more challenging than you might think to discuss that with us. Today is my friend Brent Brent. Welcome to Mindful in five. Yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, it's great to be here speedway, thanks for the opportunity as a starting point. What would you like us to know about you? Well I'm a 57 year, I'm 57 years old and I live in ST paul Minnesota, I'm a proud husband of 32 years to Julian, a father of three great adult kids and I work in a strategic account management for a U. S. Based multinational company.

This is good stuff and I suspect many of our listeners can relate to some of your life circumstances. Tell us how long it has been since you were in the office. Well, prior to my first day in the office, a few weeks ago, I have not been into our headquarters since March of 2020. So during that time I've worked exclusively from home. Is your employer bringing employees back to the office? Yes, it is probably after Labor Day and I preface this with the point that our leaders are doing really a terrific job of surveying employees to better understand their wants, their needs, their expectations. It's a very deliberate process that involves a lot of listening which which of course I applaud. We have thousands of employees who work from our Headquarters and clearly one size one won't fit all as we move forward and start to return to the office in the fall when you first heard that you were going to be returning to the office, what was your reaction? Well, at 1st I was apprehensive.

Clearly bringing people back to the office and in some way, shape or form is the right thing to do for the company in our culture and we all can work from home forever. That said, working from home has been really a net benefit for me in many ways. So I knew that managing the transition required me to be pretty intentional on how I went about things. In other words, how could I turn, what felt like a net negative into something more positive for me and the company and for me, what was my strategy going to look like You Brent like many employees before the pandemic where in the Office five days a week, but clearly the past year has created shifts in your thinking and in your work habits. I bet there are many listeners experiencing the same trepidation. So let's dig deeper. Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and in this case being introspective without being judgmental about how you're feeling and what you're thinking.

So Brent tell us more about what you were experiencing. Well, first of all, I think it's important for your listeners to know that I'm a borderline introvert. So being around people, even ones that I really like and enjoy is taxing emotionally for me further the emotional muscles that I've used to manage. That introversion of largely atrophied over the past 15 months, which probably wouldn't be a surprise or unusual for many of your listeners to this made me think, you know, I've thrived in a digital world, would I lose my competitive edge when I returned to the office and went back to what that world was like. And these thoughts made me made me anxious, Secondly, my commute to and from work is about 80 minutes per day and that's quite a bit and for the past 15 months or so. The time of the time I had invested in commuting. I've been able to I've been able to invest in exercise and and meditation and other things that have benefited me in countless ways, physically and emotionally.

And I did not really relished the idea of giving this up. So I became somewhat resistant to the notion of of going back into the office. & 3rd, the increased flexibility associated with working from home has been a a net positive from my relationships with both family members and friends. I became more present and could do more of the things around home that really help make life go like simple things like preparing dinner or helping to prepare dinner, bringing my wife julie or tea in the afternoon, which is important to her and doing the shopping and other helpful things that I was less able to do back in the day. And I also found that life had become slower and less stressful and the quality of communication has improved. And I've heard that from others too. I suspect there are many employees out there who have a viscerally negative reaction to the idea of returning to the office, who may not have taken the time to really think through why they feel the trepidation and why they feel kind of intimidated by the idea and what I like about your story Brent is that not only did you have the presence of mind to sit down and acknowledge what you were feeling, but then you did something about it.

So tell us about the action that you took. Sure. Well, first of all, my plan is to work one day a week from the office, our headquarters starting this summer. So um maybe one day, one week, it might be two days 11 week, it might not be any days, but that's my intent. And once we get past labor day and I started visiting my customers in person Again, my plan is to establish kind of a three legged stool of working from home the office and and being on the road with my customers and I would expect to work from home the most time will tell, I heard you say at the beginning that you did have your first meeting. So tell us about that and tell us how things have gone so far. Well, my first day back in the office was just a few weeks ago, June 15 and the day was a combination of scheduled meetings, things that were in the books. Uh and then an extended lunch with colleagues, which was terrific. One colleague I worked with daily and I haven't met ever and she joined the company in october but ironically it was the informal discussions, the unplanned spontaneous interactions if you will, that reminded me of the value of working from our headquarters and some of those are already paying paying dividends for me.

I summarized my experience in the office that day in a very brief email too. Kind of the extended team that I am part of their about 100 colleagues or so in the extended team. And I Probably received at least 10 responses from various colleagues who shared with me how similar their feelings had been to mine and how helpful it was that I shared my experience and feelings with them. That feedback was very affirming to me. I should preface all of this with the point being that you know I am 57 years old and and grew up in a work culture where sharing feelings. Men sharing feelings, men X sharing apprehensions. Man men men appearing vulnerable was not exactly encouraged the well the blueprint if you will the prototype of what it looked like, I'll just say yeah.

So did this take some emotional energy for you to even express it within yourself? Much less talk about it out loud. No, because I have a very dear friend that I actually discussed some of it with dinner than the evening after I was in the office. My what a good friend you have which was which was really, really super for me. But I guess there's three takeaways here that I would consider leaving with with your ninjas speedway and the first is take stock as to why you're feeling the way that you're feeling and I kind of laid out some of the feelings I had at the outset of the podcast, in my case, it was everything, it was emotional was physical and it was logistical and this introspection and if you will, his personal Q and A I think is essential to kind of get to grips with, why am I feeling the way I'm feeling? What is it that's triggering what what's being triggered if you want? 2nd, I would say engage colleagues and friends at work that you trust and make plans to meet the office, both for the work part, but also for after hours fun, you know, corporate life is about more than just the work, it's about camaraderie and relationships and so make time to cultivate those because those have, you know, those in many cases have been sidelined for some period of time, so have fun, you know, and don't be ashamed To want to have fun.

And then 3rd develop a plan, this is probably most you know, consistent with my personality, is develop a plan and a strategy that enables you to extract the value from being in the office while not losing the benefits that you accrued while you're working from home. I mean, anyone can go from all or nothing but the important thing is what is it that you want to retain, what is it that you want to gain that you lost while working from home and then just do it, you know, it's the old Nike thing, just do it and share your experience with colleagues and you trust and care about and just kind of get on with it a little bit and I think most people will, well we'll get back in a new groove. You know, part of what I think is really interesting about what you said is the point that actually work is about more than just doing that work. It's about the relationships that you build in the camaraderie that you build along the way.

And I have heard a lot of my friends and colleagues talk about how much more productive they have been during the pandemic and what they mean is that I am now spending more time in front of my computer working on things and I'm not wasting time yucking it up with my co workers and talking in the hallways and spending this other social time that felt like unproductive time. I harken back to a statement that I heard once that sometimes employees feel like the discussions and the relationships are taking away from the work, but actually they are the work. And so I think we perhaps um underestimate the value of that social time and the building of social, emotional and psychological connectedness with our co workers because when we do get to the nuts and pulse of doing the work, it makes it if not more effective and efficient, certainly more fun to work with people that you know something about and that you actually like all that to say.

I agree with everything you said Brent but that in particular I think is often quite, quite underestimated. May I add one more thing about the the interpersonal stuff in the work, that's where I think a lot of the trust comes from because let's face it, you learn a lot about people and what matters to them during the coffee or the lunch or the sometimes stressful moments that occur to. And so trust is sort of the equity that you build that enables you to amplify the good and overcome the challenges and I think that's a really important coin is that trust and in a fast moving, dynamic corporate environment where there's not the luxury of always crossing every T and dotting every I um we need to be agile and move and that requires trust and I think a lot of that trust can be built is enhanced, I should say when there's that time together and we can be quite deliberate and intentional about the time we spend with people and how we spend it.

So my two cents Brent, thank you for sharing your mindful approach with us today. It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me if you are not a mindful ninja yet join us by clicking on one of the links in the notes for this podcast. In addition to weekly companion meditation topics that go along with these podcast episodes, you will also immediately receive a proven five step toolkit to jump start your meditation practice and that's not all. Every month you will receive a five minute guided meditation for the month. So until next time. This is what you are saying. Be mindful and be well. Thank you for listening to Mindful in Five, join the Mindful in Five community at www dot Mindful in five dot com To sign up for the weekly companion emails to this podcast, which include a new guided meditation each month and five day, five minute meditations to supercharge your journey towards inner peace and success, visit the instagram page ad Mindful in five or the facebook page at speedway publications.

Until next time. Be mindful and be well.

Return to Office With Brent
Return to Office With Brent
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