Finding the flexibility between our personal and professional lives has always been a struggle for many years. The pandemic only accelerated the process of seeing through this need, especially in the form of remote or hybrid work. Sought-after speaker, culture consultant, and best-selling author, Gustavo Razzetti, is passionate about helping teams do the best work of their lives. In this episode, he joins Adam Markel to give us his insights on the present-day situation of remote and hybrid work and where we are heading with it in the future. Gustavo shares research and facts on the benefits of this current work set-up—from productivity to diversity—as well as the challenges in leadership. In his book, Remote Not Distant, he gives advice on how you can design a company culture that will help you thrive in the hybrid environment. Tune in to learn more about the changing work environment and its impact on our overall well-being.
- 02:02 – Metaphors As Shortcuts For Learning
- 04:19 – Stinky Fish In The Organization
- 07:20 – How Can Organizations Implement Hybrid Work
- 24:11 – How Remote Work Has Helped Disenfranchised Groups
- 26:11 – Hybrid Work And Environment Social Governance (ESG)
- 29:12 – Creating More Wellbeing In The Workplace
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The Present And Future Of Remote And Hybrid Work With Gustavo Razzetti
In this episode, I have Gustavo Razzetti. Gustavo is passionate about helping teams do the best work of their lives. He is a sought-after speaker, culture consultant and best-selling author. After 25 years of helping organizations build purpose-driven brands and teams, Gustavo created Fearless Culture to help organizations become purpose-driven, agile and innovative. He is also the creator of the Culture Design Canvas, a culture mapping tool used by consultants, coaches and organizations worldwide.
Gustavo’s work has been featured in Psychology Today, The New York Times, Forbes, BBC and many other publications. He is the author of four books, including the recent Remote, Not Distant, a roadmap to build a strong culture for remote and hybrid teams. You’re going to love this conversation with Gustavo Razzetti. Sit back and enjoy.
Gustavo, you and I were brothers in many ways. We do a lot of the same work. I love reading your bio. I thought, “This is the person I want to talk to.” I want to ask you a question that I always start every episode with. What is one thing that’s not part of your standard intro and bio that you hear quite frequently that you would like for people to know about you at the outset?
One of the things I like the most is cooking. I learned to cook when I was a kid. I not only enjoy cooking but I enjoy sharing the meal with people. For me, it’s a metaphor for figuring things out. I always tell my clients, “Whatever you throw out at me, I’m going to cook something with it.” Tell me what ingredients you have and I’ve got to find something to hopefully delight you but at least to have fun together.
The cooking metaphor is a good one. We were discussing with a client or prospect the idea of something that we want to do with them and something that they want to have done. The idea of creating a recipe and the ingredients is very powerful. You’re a speaker, as well as a facilitator and a leader of teams. Metaphors to me are like a shortcut. It’s a learning device. It’s an accelerated learning tool to help people to remember and understand things at a deeper level.
It’s biblical. The Bible is filled with allegories and symbols because those teach the stories. Those are the things we remember without necessarily being able to recite chapter and verse everything that’s there. I would love to know, the cooking metaphor, is that one of your favorites? If it is or even if it isn’t, what’s another metaphor that you use in your work frequently?
I don’t have favorite things. I always change. Maybe it’s a flavor of the month, if you may. Another metaphor that I use a lot that works well with teams is what we call the stinky fish. This is a metaphor to talk about the issues that teams are facing but actually are not facing. If you have a fish in the fridge and you don’t take care of it, it’s going to start to rot. Not only you’re going to have to throw it away but everything’s going to start contaminating everything around it.
The issues that start small that teams, for whatever reason, don’t address, then start to rot and contaminate the team and become bigger issues. I sure have a tool that we work with teams to uncover, “What’s your stinky fish? What are things that you are not saying that if we don’t tackle it, it’s going to start to rot and contaminate the whole team?”
I want to dig into this a little bit more. I want to chew on this stinky fish for a minute more and then move on to another metaphor. In the world that we are all in at this moment, an ever-evolving changing world, what are some of the stinky fish issues that you are seeing in the organizations that you’re working with? You don’t have to name anybody.
We also do lots of open workshops where people share their stinky fish as well so I can share. The most common thing is every time there’s change, the uncertainty of what’s going to happen and people are afraid. Sometimes leaders fear sharing news with people because news is not bad, it’s just information. The lack of information gets people’s creative juices started. They’ll start filling in all the blanks with very dramatic scenarios and sometimes things are not as bad. I always say that it’s better to inform teams than to let them fill in the blanks.
There are all sorts of tensions about people in actions that never happen. We hire the wrong person and then no one wants to fire that person. We rotate them in multiple roles waiting if someone would turn in someone they were not. It’s a procrastination of issues. That’s very important. In many teams, the big issues were very small and simple at once. Just because they were left unattended, then they turn to something more dramatic.
Something that maybe is not a stinky fish and this makes sense because we all probably have something in our refrigerator that’s been there a little too long. Originally, it wasn’t an issue. Necessarily, if we’d handled it right away, it wouldn’t have gotten to that place where it became one but then we ignore these things. What are some of the issues that you think people are ignoring? What are the conversations that organizations and leaders are not having quickly enough in your view?
One of the common themes that we see is the lack of alignment between what leaders and people want. Second, the gap between what leaders declare to their teams. They say, “No, we care about X, Y and Z,” but then their actions prioritize something, not only different but many times the opposite. That gap frustrates people. People say, “Don’t tell me that you’re people-centric or people first. When margins go down, you fire people. Tell me I’m profit-first and that’s okay.” People prefer to tell the truth even if they don’t like it than to lie.
That’s one of the most common tensions they have between what leaders declare and how they act and then people get frustrated. The remote hybrid tension between people wanting flexibility and some leaders wanting people back in the office, because they want to without a clear explanation, is one of the most common themes that we keep seeing over and over.
You wrote a book called Remote, Not Distant. Let’s talk about the remote world and what has changed, do you think? We’ve been through quite a bit of the cycle already. Since the very start, people didn’t know what was going to happen. How could an organization work remotely? We had not done it. It wasn’t the future of work at the beginning of 2020. It became the future of work quite quickly once the pandemic started. Now it is very much the present of work and also the future of work in many respects. We’re still in a state of flux. Not all the cards have been put on the table. The organizations have not disclosed their true intentions or plans.
Let’s be clear. Organizations are made up of people. Many companies don’t know yet. They don’t have a plan yet. It would be great but leaders are hesitant to say, “We don’t know. We don’t have a plan yet. When we have one, we’ll let you know.” That radical honesty, transparency or vulnerability even to say you don’t know something and you’re not ready to make a decision would be refreshing, I suppose. That will also mean that maybe these folks are not competent. They’re supposed to know. If they don’t know, then I don’t know why they’re getting paid ten times what I get paid. You know the way people are.
There’s a reason why people who are in leadership roles or senior leadership roles don’t always disclose what they don’t know. There’s a chance that that’s the case. There’s also a chance that they do know. They have a sense of what they are looking to do in the future and are not yet telling everybody transparently what is to come. What are you seeing there? You are very much an expert in this arena. Tell us what the present day of remote working and hybrid working looks like.
Every change and trend, you don’t notice it until it’s too late. You’re waiting for that wave to surf. If you lose that second, the wave’s going to pass you and you miss it. This is something that was boiling. It was happening until it finally came to fruition. The pandemic accelerated something. There was a need for people to work differently and find a balance between their personal and professional lives. The pandemic accelerated that process.
The point is some companies are seeing that as well. We gain a lot of learning. Go back 2 or 3 years, people didn’t know how to work remotely. They didn’t have the technology, willingness and process, yet most companies not only survived but thrive financially in many other aspects. People say, “When we didn’t have the resources, we did it okay. Now that we learned after two years and a half or more, why do we want to go back to how things used to be rather than apply those learnings?” Also, the benefits, because if I can save my 40-minute to 1-hour commute and spend it doing something else, why not?
Interestingly enough, people who save the commute, because they’re working mostly remotely, don’t spend that time only on themselves. Maybe 80%, it’s back to their personal time but they work an extra 20% for the company. When we were commuting, we didn’t work. Companies also have that extra benefit. What we’re seeing is some leaders are lost but at least recognize, “I don’t know how the future’s going to look but let’s figure it out one day at a time, one week at a time. We are going to be pivoting.”
There are leaders that are clueless and decide, “We better go back to how things used to be.” The reason is there’s a lack of trust. People think that if their employees and team members are visible, then it’s going to be easy to manage. The message that they’re sending is, “I don’t trust you.” When people can feel that you don’t trust them, they’re not going to trust you back. In a nutshell, that’s some of the key things.When people can feel that you don't trust them, they're not going to trust you back. Click To Tweet
You brought something up that’s powerful. That is part of our history. The way we would measure productivity was to see, “Are you behind your desk or are you doing something?” If you were doing something, you are busy or whatever you are, then you are somehow productive in earning your keep. To not be able to look in at your cubicle or office or see when you came in at 7:30 in the morning, who’s still in the office? Who’s here first? That was the litmus test for who’s the most productive, most keen, eager and all the rest of it.
We have this unknown so to speak. There’s a way you punch a time clock. There are still factory people and other people that are required to check in when they’re starting or what have you. Remote work and hybrid situations require trust. You put your finger on something fundamentally important.
The question I want to ask is, is that lack of trust on the part of a manager or some other leader warranted? We’re into this long enough to be able to look at numbers to see how productive people in the remote space are. I don’t know if you have access to that. I’m making an assumption that we have enough time at this point to have reliable data about that. That’s a question that’s still in people’s minds and it hasn’t been resolved. At least I haven’t heard it resolved. What are your thoughts on that?
The point is there are a lot of research and facts that show that people are more productive when working in a hybrid environment if done well. There are people that do it but not necessarily the right way. Also, organizations that offer hybrid have increased diversity to a level that no one saw before. For example, at Shopify, more than 46% of the senior leadership positions are held by women. In the past years, that wasn’t the case. They tripled the number of women in positions because of job flexibility. They can balance personal stuff with professional stuff in a more convenient way. The same happened with Allstate, the insurance company. They increased the number of minority employees, Hispanics and African-Americans that apply for new job openings because of this.
There are dramatic changes. Those are facts that show that it works. Many companies have been operating remotely or in a hybrid since the beginning of age and they’re doing great. Some companies required a mix. If you’re a flight operator, you need to be there. You cannot do it from home. The most important thing comes back to trust. Leaders talk a lot about data, being data-driven and information but then when they come to certain decisions, they are biased. They’re not perfect. They’re human beings. They don’t trust people.
Tobias Lütke who is the CEO of Shopify uses a metaphor, “Trust battery.” We do this activity with leaders. How does your trust battery work? Do you start with an empty battery, a full battery, a half-full battery or depending on the situation when you’re starting a new relationship? The second part is as important. How fast does that battery either depletes or gets full? If you start with a full battery and you trust your team a lot but the first mistake they make, immediately you don’t trust them anymore, that doesn’t work. Trust, to your point, is critical in this situation. It’s not about the facts. It’s about the emotions that come to play. If I don’t see people working, I think they’re not working. That’s something that’s ingrained because leaders were raised like that in the past.
I’m playing the angel’s advocate here because there are still people that go, “I get that. We all want to trust. We want to be trusted and trust others.” I don’t think there’s anybody with pushback on that. Somebody might say, “For me to trust, I need something. I have to have something. I don’t give my car keys to my seventeen-year-old kid because they’ve been taking driving lessons. I go out in the car and watch them drive and sit in the passenger seat. If they’re a good driver, then they can borrow the car.” On some level, it feels like there’s an element of, “Show me how it is that the work is being done more productively and then I may have more trust for this.”
My question there is if you are seeing the company or that your group is not performing at the level that you would want or expect or that the company expects, would you not come to the assumption or surmise that it’s possible being away from one another? Not being able to collaborate or walk into one another’s office or space to ask questions, get ideas, be able to have innovative random unplanned conversations. It has happened in collision zones, inside of an office building, in the hallways and in the break rooms. Wouldn’t you make the assumption that perhaps that’s going to be an issue that we have to deal with? I’m trying to see how the other side is viewing this. Any thoughts on that?
I did a lot of research for my book and also, for the work I do with clients. First of all, when people and leaders didn’t have a choice, they trusted people to work from wherever they could with the tools they could because they didn’t have the right connection and technology. People rose to the occasion and were able to keep most businesses up and running. What people are saying is, “We have a choice but why is this not working?” I agree with you that not everyone is reliable.
First of all, people already went through a scrutiny process when they were recruited. If you recruited the right person, you don’t hire your 16 or 17-year-old to drive your trucks. You say, “I’m hiring truck drivers who have the right experience.” If you hire and did your due diligence, then you should trust because you verify first and then you trust.
There’s a company that’s called Atlassian, which is an Australian team software company, a multi-million organization. They have a practice that every time they hire someone new, they give them a $5,000 to $7,000 check and they invite them to take vacation before they join. What the company is saying is, “I did my due diligence during the recruiting process. Once I hire you, I trust you. I’m giving you money to go and spend a vacation even before you work one hour and do something for me.”
The message it sent is powerful. When you trust people, people are going to give it back and then it’s not going to be the other way around. However, there’s always 3% to 5% of people that are going to screw up. Have one-on-one work with those people but don’t punish the majority because a few people are slacking, not working or being irresponsible. The leaders create rules that apply to everyone because they’re not having conversations with the people that are not doing their job.
That’s the aberration, in other words. We’re hearing more that organizations are saying, “We’re going to have you come back perhaps over the next few months, 2 days a week or 3 days.” I’m hearing a lot of three-day-a-week work situations coming back into the office. Do you think that’s a good idea? Every situation and company is different. I don’t expect you to create a blanket answer for this. To what extent do you think, if a company came through the worst of the pandemic and we have different kinds of headwinds economically and politically, is it a good idea? Even if it isn’t, what’s the best way to communicate with people about this coming back to the office eventuality?
First of all, it’s not a black-and-white conversation. In my book, I described there are five different models of how to implement hybrid. This one, 3 days in the office, 2 days at home or 4-and-1, whatever the case is, has become the norm for many companies but it’s not the most effective. It’s because organizations are missing the opportunity that instead of designing work around the schedule, they should design the schedule around the work. When I say the work is what type of work we’re going to do.
Say more about that, please.
Let me say that we are part of a team, you and I. Adam and Gustavo work together. We have another six more colleagues and we are cracking a new product. We need to do something that requires that we work together, spend a lot of time together and go to the street to test our hypothesis with users. Maybe we need to spend 1 or 2 weeks working from the office or in the same place because the nature of the work takes time. When the two of us and the other people all split and go on implementation, maybe we don’t need to see each other for 1 or 2 weeks. We need to touch base in certain critical moments.
Understand what’s the nature of the work that needs to be done and design your schedule around it rather than in the end. I go 2 days at the office and work 4 because I have to be there. What’s the purpose of bringing people together and why people should work separately? Also, one of the benefits for people is saving money on the commute, maybe living farther away from their jobs. If they have more flexibility, then they have that benefit as well. The change is we need to stop thinking about the 9:00 to 5:00 and recreate the 4 days in the office, 1 from home or whatever model. Think, “What work is my team up to? What’s the best arrangement for that project in the next 2 or 3 weeks?” We need flexibility.
It’s almost like at a very granular level, we’re saying, “You are treating each employee individually.” Meaning you’re constructing something of a best-work-case scenario for each employee. At a slightly less granular level, a team level, a function level or in some other capacity that involves a grouping of employees, that’s labor intensive. That requires a lot of thought. It requires planning and oversight. I suppose people would be thinking, “Is that scalable?” It’s not a cookie-cutter approach by any means. That’s what we’re saying anyway. The future of work and where we’re at is less cookie-cutter than it has ever been in terms of meeting people where they are.The future of work and where we're at is less cookie-cutter than it has ever been. Click To Tweet
In developed considerations or individual expectations, it needs to be considered but we need to have a team conversation because this is not about what Adam or Gustavo wants. If we work on the same team, we need to have certain arrangements the same way that we can have flexible hours. Some people like to start working early in the day. Some people like to work and they’re more like night owls. We still need to agree that from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, we’re all going to be available for meetings or collaboration, whatever that takes.
There need to be some ground rules that bring the team together. It’s not like everyone does whatever they want. The point is freedom with accountability. In the end, the companies have many people with that stuff. Many companies have been operating like that for decades. Not only remote-first companies but most global teams that have people in Indonesia, France, Canada and San Diego. That’s the way they work always.
You said that part of what happened in the pandemic went into the pandemic without the resources to work remotely. I was part of a company. I was running a CEO for a company that was on four continents. We were using Zoom. Interestingly enough, a family member of mine discovered Zoom in 2015 or 2014. It was a very early version of it but it was so effective that I could get on with my senior leadership team that was in Sydney, Singapore or Vancouver and have everybody participate in meetings very similar to the way you and I are doing this on Zoom.
There’s a lot of technology and a lot of ways of doing things that we could have been doing 5 or 6 years sooner. I question in my mind even at this moment, how much technology, how many resources and tools are available that we’re not focused on and not utilizing when it comes to the still future of where work is headed.
You said something about triple the number of women in leadership roles, more senior level leadership because of the flexibility that the pandemic and remote work provided. You also mentioned other groups have been marginalized like Hispanics. I understood when you said that flexibility would help women in the workplace. It’s because I’m making the assumption that, for many women, they’ve had a conflict between their family, obligations, responsibilities, being mothers in particular and being in the office, the 8:00 to 6:00, “Here’s how I climbed the ladder,” grind. What could you say in terms of other disenfranchised groups and why remote work has helped them?
First of all, there’s a location aspect. There are certain populations that live in smaller towns where access to better executive jobs is not possible. They have a job but small. If they want to grow, they’re smart. They want to have a career and now they can have access to larger organizations. Not only in the US but they can work globally for companies that operate across the world.
There’s also the troubled thing. There’s a cost associated. There’s also the incidence of having kids. Minorities have a higher level of kids compared to the average American. That means because of age stuff, they tend to have more kids too. With that reality, it’s more complicated, if you’re a mom or a single dad, to go to the office every day. Having that flexibility is better.
There’s an element of psychological safety that there are a lot of exclusive conversations or what they call microaggressions that happen in the workplace. When you’re at home, they don’t happen that often or you can turn off your camera, go and grab a coffee or go for a walk. There are many elements. There’s not one. In the end, that has helped the flexibility of scale and it’s critical.
The acronym ESG, Environmental Social Governance, is a very strong principle concept. I wanted to understand a little bit about how remote and hybrid work relates to if it does. If you can draw some comparisons or lay out a bit of the relationship as you see it between that and ESG paradigm and principles.
There are lots of benefits when it comes to the impact of work. Commute not only cost people a lot but society costs a lot because we’re moving people. You have a house that you need to keep heated but you’re not going to be there and you’re going to be working somewhere. Not you in San Diego, I’m talking here in Chicago. That costs money. To the environment, it’s a huge impact. Traffic is another. It’s not only the problem of traveling from one place to another but also the impact it has on people’s mental health, accidents and lives.
I can relate to that. I used to be a 3-hour-a-day commuter, sometimes 4 hours when I would go from our house in Central New Jersey to my office. I was a lawyer back then so my law office is in Manhattan. If it was on a good day, it was an hour and a half. On a bad day, it could be two and a half hours each way. I was not the happiest person back then upon arrival in either location.
I lived in Connecticut. I’d have to commute to New York City. I know what you’re talking about. They commute emotionally. It’s not only the cost per se but also the emotions and the time that you waste in many aspects. Everything has an upside. When you commute, you have time to relax and transition. I used to go to Chicago all the time and work there in an office. I took the train, wrote, read and did a lot of emails. It was a great focus work moment for me.
For example, in Europe, many leaders don’t travel because they don’t want to spend the car one footprint on a flight to visit their teams. They take a flight or a train or work remotely. I see it a lot working with large global corporations. They’re seeing the benefit and the impact that their company has on the planet reduce because of having people distributed and not having to work in the same place. Lastly, the impact on the office footprint. Many leaders, especially CFOs said, “If people are not going to be here all the time, we need less footprint.” That saves the company money but also the impact on the environment in the long run is smaller.
You already mentioned, on the social side, how it is that this has increased the opportunities for groups of people that typically experienced a harder time advancing pay-wise and responsibility-wise in the workplace. You’ve indicated that as well. I do see a strong correlation between the ESG goals and how remote work might meet those.
In the last section, talk a little bit about you. The work that I do in the world in organizations, similar to yours, is not about so much remote. The concept of remote work, even though that’s an element, is about wellness. How do we create more well-being in the workplace? I wrote a book called Change Proof to talk about this concept of how it is that we are able to embrace change. One of those changes is that corporations have to become more empathetic.
The organization is a fiction of sorts, illegal fiction but it operates through people. Those people have to understand other people and be able to care for them better. I’m wearing a shirt that says, “Got your back.” That concept of having each other’s backs is so powerful in producing greatness. Organizations are able to impact in a very positive way many other people. My question to you is, how have you developed resilience personally? How is it that you’ve developed resilience within your teams? What does that look for you over the last few years?
For me, resiliency is the ability to bounce back. The best way to learn how to do that is to go through a situation in which you don’t have an escape route and you figure it out. In my case, short story, I was tracking a mountain in the Andes and I got lost. I have to improvise shelter and spend one night there without any food, water, not even proper clothing. It was raining and snowing. I have to figure out how to survive. I’m not one of these guys that start building stuff with their fingers but I figured it out.
I realized that the most important thing and for me that’s critical for resilience is to understand where you are and keep your mind calm. Understand, “I cannot control the environment but I can control my reaction.” That was very important. I applied that same experience to new things. Every time I embark myself on uncharted waters, it’s okay. At some point, I realize, “It’s snowing and it’s late. I need to stop, read the signals and then adapt.”
The adaptation is a strong piece of resilience. Our company and I do a lot of research on it. I do quite a bit of keynote speaking on the topic of resilience. Much of it is on stress management, mental health, work-life balance and things of that sort. Often people will quote Darwin in terms of this concept of sort of survival aspects, “Survival of the fittest.”
Everybody knows that but they miss the most important aspect of what Darwin was sharing, which was that it’s the most adaptable. The people that can adapt to changing environmental circumstances are the fittest ones. The fittest is not necessarily the strongest. It’s not necessarily somebody that doesn’t fall, make mistakes or find themselves in uncharted waters. It’s the person that’s able to be flexible, agile, alert, aware and able to understand that even if there’s fear in the unknown, there’s also comfort.
This is where our world intersects with yours. There’s comfort in your ability to create situations that allow you to recharge. You talked about remote work as a way that people to produce something more effectively. In a way that’s effective for them, therefore it’s effective or maybe more effective for the organization.
From our standpoint, that’s what resilience is all about. It’s the ability to recharge your battery. You talked about the trust battery. It’s true. We wake up in the morning and we have a battery for that day. Sometimes we use a different analogy but we talk about a resilience bank account. Let’s say it’s a battery. We wake up, we have a battery and we have a charge for the day. How is it that you can maintain full strength throughout the day? In all likelihood, many of the things that are going to happen will slowly or not so slowly erode the strength of that battery. You will become more and more depleted throughout the day. If you are not aware of how it is that you can recharge the battery, then at some point, the battery runs out of juice.
I remember from earlier parts of my career, even when I was younger, I would run out of juice around 2:00 in the afternoon. I was aware of it but wasn’t thinking about it that way. I would go get coffee, eat or get sugar, something to just keep going. That was not a recipe or a good strategy for productivity for myself or being at my best.
Normally what would happen is I would grit my way through the end of the day. As a lawyer, I kid about this but for some of my angriest work, I did it at 4:00 in the afternoon. I would write my love letters. I would do this stuff. I was a litigation attorney. In those moments when I was the least patient and the most agitated, that’s when I would do that work. I would also come home and then I wasn’t right coming in the door. I was wiped out, exhausted and depleted. You can go on like that for lengths of time, especially when you’re younger. You can play the grit card for a long time before it shows. That was the case for me.
I ended up in the hospital and I had my scary moment, which is another story for another day. A lot of young folks we see are showing the signs of that earlier and they’re vocal about it. When I went to the hospital, my wife calls it my fart attack, my fake heart attack. It was years of ignoring my feelings and what was going on with me that led to that very lucky day when I didn’t have a cardiac arrest. Now, we’re seeing a lot of young people talking about anxiousness, their anxiety and feelings much earlier. They’re also experiencing that potentially, even earlier, that depletion that leads to frustration, hopelessness, sheer exhaustion and depression. They’re experiencing that earlier.
Has that been your experience in your work as well with teams? Are you seeing that? Do you have any insights about that that you can share with us? One parenthetical question to that and this is the point for you in your world, does remote work make that easier or more difficult? A person who has a 9:00 to 5:00 job knows when they enter the workplace and when they leave the workplace. There are clear boundaries, it seemed. Remote work means you can work anytime. That means you work almost anytime. That’s my question to you.
Starting from the last question, I wouldn’t say that remote is better or worse. It’s how you do it, because in the end, some people are working remotely, either fully or in high rate arrangement and they’re working endless hours. There are people that are able to control their time much better.
Remote or working partially remotely at least gives you flexibility. To your point, if it’s 2:00 PM and I’m depleted, I can take a nap and go for a walk. You feel that you have that space to take care of yourself and then recharge. When your battery gets depleted, you cannot move on. Grit can take you so far away so you need to recharge at some point. The best way to recharge is to switch activities. It gives you the ability. Some people leverage it, many people don’t. It’s not an easy recipe and fix. It’s more of how you do it.
In the end, what happens is, “What’s the purpose?” Sometimes when we lose focus on the work that we’re doing, then our level of resilience, our bank account, we withdraw everything we had there and there’s no money left. We start paying interest because we overdraw. On the negative side, it’s important to connect. If you are working and you forget why you’re doing it, if your work doesn’t mean anything and there’s no impact on what you’re doing, then you’re going to get tired and stressed out.
It’s important to always do what you want to do, the job that brings you a passion, connects you, challenges you, learns you and also gets you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we get stressed out, not because we’re being pushed to our limits but because we’re not being pushed at all. Being in our comfort zone can be as bad as trying to take our behaviors to the extreme all the time.
Gustavo, I have enjoyed this conversation. My last question for you is, is there one thing that you do on a routine basis? Our definition of resilience is how it is that we recover. It’s the recovery that is the important item that helps us to bounce forward, to bounce back but bounce back stronger. To bounce forward requires that we ritualize our practices for recovery. My question is, is there one thing that you do on a ritual basis to recover and recharge your battery?
There are two things. First, I anticipate the need to recharge. For example, I work with a global client. I have to start at 5:00 AM. I had done an early racer. I know that that’s going to take a toll on me because I’m not going to go do it until whatever. I’m going to have to work longer hours. I re-anticipate that. I’m going to give that extra effort but then the next day, I’m going to start later. I’m going to have a cushion for taking care of myself. I design the chaos and the recovery at hand. I will say, “Now that I’m depleted, what am I going to do?” You don’t even have the time to think or the energy to plan for that.
For me, the most important thing is I like what I call getting lost. It’s a ritual that I use. When I feel that I’m getting depleted, I need to get lost. That could be grabbing my road bike and starting riding 30 to 40 miles in any direction without a clear plan. That could be going for a walk. That could be writing something or doing some research for an article. The brain has much more energy than we think. We need to put the energy into something that becomes rewarding at that time. We feel the weight when we’re always doing the same. If you’re doing a very deep work activity, you need to do something more superficial. There we are around. That helps me a lot.Sometimes, the brain has much more energy than we think. We need to put the energy into something that becomes rewarding. Click To Tweet
I’m writing down a couple of notes on what you said but I love the getting lost. It’s funny or maybe it’s not funny. You found yourself lost that one night. You had to survive a night in the mountains in the Andes. Getting lost, is that a bit tongue-in-cheek?
No. Taking about resilience and your topic, I learned that it’s not fighting back against reality. You realize, “I’m lost.” Instead of saying, “I’m going to find my way home because I’m so smart.” I say, “I need to stay put.” I learned also that getting lost helped me reframe a lot of things about my life and myself. Sometimes I get lost on purpose. It has become a practice.
What a wonderful way to close the loop right there, Gustavo. You’re awesome. I appreciated our conversation. I know our folks have as well. To the audience, a couple of calls to action here. First of all, if this is a conversation you would love to share with some other folks, please do that. It’s always so wonderful when we hear that you’re sharing these episodes with friends, family and colleagues.
We’d love to hear from you as well to know how this episode landed for you. Were there things that you wanted to hear more of, things that were impactful or insights? You can go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcast and leave your comment. It will be me, yours truly, that will respond to those. Lastly, a request or a favor, if you will. I say it’s a favor because it’s self-serving to make this request but it would be wonderful if you would rate the show. They give you that opportunity on the platform that you are tuning in to, to rate it five stars. Five stars is a great rating or less if that’s what you feel is true for you.
When you rate the show, it assists the algorithm to put this show in front of more people that might enjoy it. It might be a benefit too. You’re helping us but you’re also helping others. It’s a ripple effect. It’s community. I learned long ago that struggle is optional. By that, I mean often in our lives we struggle because we don’t ask other people for help. That’s it. I would appreciate it. We appreciate it. Thank you for reading. We love the fact you’re part of this community. We look forward to connecting with you again very soon.
I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to Gustavo. I’m sure you did as well. I got so much out of that conversation. There were so many insights and notes. A little bit is we started talking about the stinky fish. What a great metaphor. Gustavo hit on it that so often it is the case in our personal lives but specifically with our teams and our businesses, we ignore issues. We ignore them the way we ignore that fish that’s getting stinky inside of the refrigerator that needs to be dealt with. What we realize is that if we deal with it sooner, it doesn’t get to that place. It’s not a stinky fish at the beginning, even though you might think so. It gets stinkier, let’s put it that way. It gets worse with time, not better with age. It’s not a good wine. We’ve got to deal with those issues upfront.
We talked about the benefits of the remote and hybrid work situation in a way that I’ve not talked to any other researcher, author or speaker about it before. It’s the positive impact that remote work is having on organizations and ESG or Environmental Social Governance principles. How it is that in this world of remote and hybrid work, many of the marginalized and disenfranchised groups of folks have been able to advance? It’s because there’s so much more flexibility to do that, whether it’s been women. Three times as many women are in leadership roles since the pandemic than before. That was the case. In part because women can work more flexibly, care for their families, for their children and still care for their careers, which is remarkable.
We also talked about the fact with other groups of folks that have been also not able to advance as quickly as others. The hybrid and remote situations allowed flexibility in terms of where you work geographically speaking. You don’t have to live within commuting distance of a major city to get paid top dollar, work in large organizations and have more responsible jobs.
There’s less of an incidence in those remote situations or hybrid situations of the microaggressions that occur when people are not being treated fairly, when others are biased or where there’s a certain element of lack of inclusion, understanding and psychological safety for people to lean into their jobs more fully because they feel like they don’t necessarily have a fair shot. This has leveled the playing field in a lot of ways for those people as well.
We talked about trust, the heart of the whole back-to-work and getting people back in the office drive has a lot to do with how managers and other senior-level leaders think about their workers. Whether they have an element of trust or feel trust, they’re able to get the work done. Without that trust, there’s the desire to micromanage people and look after them.
We talked as well about how remote and other more flexible work situations might be contributing, to what extent it’s contributing to a lack of recovery, to people feeling more exhausted, depleted or anxious than they may have ever been feeling before and what we do about it. We talked about the trust battery. I thought that conversation and distinction were quite a great one. It’s one that I’m going to think about as well. Lastly, when I was speaking to Gustavo, he shared some of his principles for recovery and how he practices getting lost regularly. You tell somebody, “Get lost.” Gustavo tells himself to get lost for a particular purpose and a purpose that is beneficial to him and his resiliency.
I love the conversation. I hope you did as well. I hope you share it with other folks. Our request is always the same. If you love this episode, share it with a friend, a family member or a colleague. Give us a rating if you could and leave a comment. You can do that as well. Lastly, I’ll say this, if you are curious about how resilient you or somebody on your team is, you can simply go to ResilienceRank.com. I kid you not, for less than three minutes, you’ll get a snapshot in time of your mental, emotional, physical and even your spiritual resilience. Take advantage of that. It’s entirely free. It’s our gift to you. I’ll wish you a wonderful rest of your day. Ciao for now.
About Gustavo Razzetti
Gustavo is passionate about helping teams do the best work of their lives. He is a sought-after speaker, culture consultant, and best-selling author.
After 25 years of helping organizations build purpose-driven brands and teams, Gustavo created Fearless Culture to help organizations become purpose-driven, agile, and innovative. Razzetti is also the creator of the Culture Design Canvas, a culture mapping tool used by consultants, coaches, and organizations worldwide.
Gustavo’s work has been featured in Psychology Today, The New York Times, Forbes, BBC, and many other publications.
He is the author of four books, including the recent Remote, Not Distant – a roadmap to build a strong culture for remote and hybrid teams.