1June2020

Question Everything

Post Pandemic, Continue Asking Why Do We Work the Way We Do.

A.K.A. – Don’t throw out the ham ends…

As this pandemic forces us to do our jobs in different ways, let’s hope we hold on to the efficient ways when we come out of this. You may have heard of the baked ham story. The one where the two ends of a ham are cut-off because the oven was too small to accommodate the ham so it had to be put in a smaller pan. Then, generations later as the famous family recipe was handed down, the “tradition” of cutting off the two ends of the ham continued. Nobody asked why. Maybe family members made up elaborate assumptions on how it affected the flavor or they had pure blind-integrity thinking. (But think of all those discarded ham ends that never got a chance to help clog arteries – a shame, really). It’s a good story to ask why and to also make a habit of doing it regularly. As a person who gets an involuntary eye spasm every time I see inefficiency, I have a small breath of relief seeing how companies and people are getting smarter in how they get their work done in light of the Shelter-In-Place. So for the love of Gilbreth (that is, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, famous efficiency expert, continue asking “why, why, why” and not contribute to my daytime REM cycle, eye-twitching.

For jobs not requiring physical presence, no one expects the amount of remote working to go back as it was before the virus hit. That would be like reliving teen acne – its awkward, takes a lot of energy and you still need to go to school.

The most common thing I’ve been hearing is because there can be no desk-drive-bys from others disrupting your work, people are getting more done. There’s some data that says that for each time we’re interrupted we lose 20 minutes of productivity and throughout the day we could lose 1 to 2 hours of work. People HR says it’s twice that.

My advice is to practice finding ways to say, “dude, it’ll have to wait”. This will give yourself back that time you need to get your shite done that ultimately would allow you to enjoy a bourbon and slice of pie at home and squeeze-in another episode of Peaky Blinders. Introverts, take heed in this helpful article and avoid an Introvert Hangover.

Social connection certainly needs to make a comeback as much as Jello Pudding Pops (yes, I know I could make them but the R.O.E (Return On Enjoyment) is very low). And the social scarcity caused by the pandemic has impacted many people to the extent of Caution Fatigue reaching beyond rational levels of social-distancing.

I’ve even heard stories of drive-by birthdays, with all good SIP-intentions, turn into a three-hour party on the front lawn of the intended birthday girl (a-hem! [insert visored-hand over eyes to avoid judgement here]).

The point is that we all have varying degrees of being in the company of others. We all need it. And you know this, ma’an! [said in the voice of Smokey from the movie Friday]. So to keep this in check, post-pandemic, let employees choose how they spend time with their co-workers socially in the event that remote work gets increased. Let it be an organic, grass-roots, low cost thing. And never let it be forced and reach a level of exhaustion. 

There's only one of you. Adapt to allow for the space you need: mentally, physically and physically.

Photo from https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/

For many, the lockdown has helped reduce stress but for those with kids requiring home-schooling, the stress to get their work done has increased even more. You might miss being the squirrel that you once were; scurrying to get out the door, hopping in and out of lanes on your commute, then zig-zagging to meetings all over town or within your campus. If you do, you’ve got other issues ;). But even if you enjoy no longer being the squirrel, all business inefficiencies should be questioned. For those who need to be in the office either because it’s required, or you’re more impactful in-person, or just need to – for their own sanity, I hear you and you gotta do what you gotta do.

And what about the focus time needed to think and process? This is becoming a newly appreciated realization. But let me ask you this: regardless of how much your job requires you to be in the office, how much downtime to think and process do you require to be impactful on a daily basis? (I’m gathering this information in this three minute survey, so please take this if you can – you may even get a Bourbon and Pie sticker for your contribution. One never knows ;)).

But whatever the case, use the oxygen mask metaphor and put yours on first (AND BREATH) before tackling challenges take you away from the task at hand.

And with all of these areas mentioned, question everything. Constantly. Make it your new habit. Or just keep passing down that same old ham recipe.

Chris Escobar is a coach for introverts and also enjoys helping teams become efficient. He resides in San Jose California with his amazing wife Boom Boom, two almost-automous teenagers: Zolie and Evanusky, and sassy Bichon, Lola.

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