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The Leader as Kipuka (Create your Kipuka, Part II)

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The Leader as Kipuka (Create your Kipuka, Part II)

Last Thursday, we talked about creating a haven of creativity and rejuvenation for ourselves, called Kipuka in Hawai‘i. I had ended my article asking you to consider how people can be like the Kipuka, those verdant oases of life in scorched lava fields which hold the promise of what will flourish and grow once more.

The common name they may go by in our normal awareness? Leaders. Held within them is the promise of a future the rest of us may not sense yet. They lead in that they start to move toward it before the rest of us do, and they are so certain and self-assured, so positive and full of energy, that they pull us along with them. We follow very willingly, feeling comfortable in their confidence.

What we do sense, is that within their Kipuka a spot will be made for us to take root, find nourishment in fertile ground, and grow too. We are sure they will add some richness to our lives.

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These leaders are not always larger than life. They are not always older, better traveled, or more experienced than we are. In fact, they could even be our children. They are leaders who may not have a title of leadership, but they act like leaders, and so in our picture frame of our present world, that’s who they are. That’s who we want them to be.

“Leadership is about getting things done with others and through others, and as such, aspiring to leadership is not a goal or quality reserved for those with title, position, or power. Conversely, when you have been one to demonstrate your leadership, people take notice you have it, and those promotions of title, position, and power will find you.”
—Managing with Aloha, on Alaka‘i, the Hawaiian value of Leadership

So if title can’t clue you in to recognize leadership when you see it, what does? The vegetation on the Kipuka stands out so remarkably when it is surrounded by nothing but hardened black lava. The best leadership is not as obvious in our everyday consciousness. How can you get better at putting yourself in the company of the leaders worth following, the ones who will mean something great in your life? What does “great leading” look like to you?

If you feel you have an answer, or a story to share, do share it with us here.

Why? So we can learn from the great leaders of our world, and try to be like them.

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You see I believe that a) leadership matters, and b) that leading is something we can all do. As I wrote in Managing with Aloha, titles and positions of power are irrelevant. As a coach, I want to help people lead when they feel the calling to do so. As a member of the human race, I want more of us to lead effectively when we believe we can, and when we should. I long for us to be more impatient, lead more often and in more small ways, so we can banish apathy and complacency.

It seems to me that we tend to think of leadership as way bigger than it really is in real-life, normal practice. I like the thought that we can each be the best in some way and with some thing, when we choose to excel at those things we can do, and do exceptionally well, versus striving to be the best with what might be out of our league.

I don’t think that’s a condescending thought at all; it’s liberating. What it means to me is that we can all stop waiting for a looming presence of leadership to come save us, excite us, or otherwise rock our world. We can do it ourselves in whatever small ways we can, just like the Kipuka, seemingly alone and small in the vast destruction of rivers of lava. Because of the Kipuka life does not end. Because of us, possibility never ends.

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Everything is impossible unless the first person does it. Will you be that person?

Article References:
Create your Kipuka
“Great Leading” means what, exactly?

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

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More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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