In this episode, Tim Reitsma and Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina—TEDx speaker, bestselling author, and Founder of Consciously Digital—talk about the importance of digital wellbeing. You will learn what you can do as a leader to model to your team what digital wellbeing means and learn a few strategies on how to balance your on and offline self.
- Dr. Anastasia makes a distinction between the expert and the guru. The expert is not the person who knows everything. The expert is the person who has made all possible mistakes in the field of digital wellbeing. [1:46]
- Dr. Anastasia runs a network of 100+ digital wellbeing coaches across five continents. [2:20]
We are a little bit too obsessed with the word ‘productivity’ and we often confuse it with busyness.DR. ANASTASIA Dedyukhina
- Sometimes we end up promoting people because they have more visibility online. The truth is, when we are always online, it costs you your ability to actually perform good work, to perform deep work. [5:35]
- The 3 key pillars of digital wellbeing are: 1) the ability to focus; 2) the ability to rest and unplug; and 3) physical body support. [7:48]
- The ability to focus: the ability to just do focused work, to be fully focused in your meetings, whether it’s online or offline. [7:54]
- The ability to rest and unplug: in some countries in Europe, there is a so-called right to disconnect. It’s a combination of management training, personal awareness, but also company policies. [8:36]
- The most common work-related trauma is carpal tunnel syndrome. [11:02]
- There is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially if we talk about organizations. [13:30]
- Dr. Anastasia talks about awareness and letting people know of the impact. [13:54]
- The importance of setting clear KPIs. Are you assessed on how quickly you respond to emails? [13:59]
- Dr. Anastasia mentioned research that was done by Harvard researchers and Boston Consulting Group. They discovered that teams that predictably could unplug once a week, not only performed better, were happier, and had better relationships within the team, but they also had better relationships with the client. [14:19]
- There are 3 types of behavior: border expanders, border adapters, and border enforcers. [18:12]
People who are very flexible with their boundaries, unfortunately, are people who are more likely to burn out.Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina
- Most of us are in between categories. And, the pandemic and moving into hybrid work work caused us to move one step towards the other side of the spectrum. If we used to be enforcers, we tend to become adapters. We tend to be more flexible. If we used to be adapters, we tend to start blurring our boundaries. So that’s why now you see a real issue with people burning out. [19:38]
- Another typical conflict is when a person has a preference and the company, the team or the boss has a different one. [20:02]
- To have that balance and flexibility, you have to start with KPIs. Determine how you know your employees are doing their work well. [22:19]
- Make sure that people are trained to recognize their most productive hours. [23:45]
- If you’re working on something meaningful that requires engaging all of your brain—you need some input, you need conversations, you need research, and then you need to sit down and leave your brain to work, and do something completely different. [27:18]
- In many countries, they’re now experimenting with a 4-day work week. [29:18]
In the online world, there is no such thing as being done with work.Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina
Meet Our Guest
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina (UK) is a global thought leader on digital wellbeing, TEDx speaker, bestselling author of Homo Distractus, and founder of the international network of 100+ digital wellbeing coaches Consciously Digital. She acts as a director of the first digital wellbeing training program certified by two major coaching associations, ICF and NBHWC. Anastasia is a frequent speaker at global conferences, such as Mobile World Congress, National Wellness Conference, and she has appeared numerous times in the national and international press, including BBC, ITV, Metro, Guardian etc. Anastasia’s TEDx talk Could you live without a smartphone? has been viewed more than 300,000 times on Youtube.
We really need to redefine what it means to be productive. We adopted a little bit of this metaphor that being productive is performing at the same time, at the same pace as computers do, and that’s wrong. That cannot be applied to humans.Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina
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Read The Transcript:
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Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: I think we really need to redefine what it means to be productive. We adopted a little bit, this metaphor, that being productive is performing at the same time at the same pace like computers do, and that's wrong. That cannot be applied to humans. If you think about how the human brain works, it's very similar to food digestion process. There is time to eat and there is time to digest.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma!
And, well, I've got a confession to make. My digital wellbeing is off track and the conversation I have today with Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina—a global leader on digital wellbeing, TEDx speaker, bestselling author—has definitely challenged my understanding of my own digital wellbeing.
Constant Slack messages and emails have been a distraction for moving projects forward. I wonder if you can relate to that? In this episode, we learn what we can do as leaders to model to our teams what digital wellbeing means, and to learn a few strategies on how to balance our on and offline selves.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina, thank you so much for joining us on the People Managing People podcast. We're gonna talk about just a fascinating topic about digital wellbeing, finding balance online, offline. We're gonna talk a lot about that digital presence, companies or countries, even talking about our right to disconnect and you are the expert on this topic.
So I really appreciate you joining us on the show today.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: Thank you so much, Tim for having me. And just to make a distinction between the expert and the guru, the expert is not the person who knows everything. The expert is the person who has made all possible mistakes in this field. So I can tell you what not to do in the field of digital wellbeing.
Tim Reitsma: I love it. Yes. Well, let's we're gonna get into that. We're gonna get into some good examples of what not to do. And I think that's gonna offer so much value to everyone including myself.
But before we get into it, why don't you just take a minute or two and just tell us a little bit about what's you're up to? What's top of mind for you these days?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: So, work wise, I run a network of digital wellbeing coaches. We're more than a hundred people now in five continents. What we do, we go to organizations and we make sure that people are still productive, focus, creative, collaborate well when they work online, as opposed to offline. We now all move to hybrid or remote first, way of working.
So what does this mean for people? How do we prevent them from burning out? Personally, we were just talking to you, Tim before the start. I was trying to take some unplugged holidays. So my personal challenge is how to do that while running the business. Once I figure that out, I will let you know.
Tim Reitsma: You know, we talk a lot about being able to unplug. We hear companies shutting down for weeks. You've mentioned a company, I think Brené Brown's company shutting down for three months. I don't even know how that's possible. And it's hard, especially as we're leading teams and it takes, it feels like it takes so much prep work just to even go on vacation sometimes.
We feel that urge to jump online, see if everything's going okay, but that, that ability to disconnect. I know you'd mentioned that you were off you took a couple weeks off, good for you for being able to do that. And, and I hope you're, you work more towards being able to take more time off as you build your organization.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: I think it will really be a great personal challenge, but also something I would like to see in organizations that people can really balance their online and offline presence, whether they're taking time off to disconnect and have rest. Or they're taking time offline to actually work. Yeah, to do the work they're paid for.
Cause very often, we're paid do one type of work and we end up most of the time just managing emails, posting on social media, something that's not really directly related to what we are paid for.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, we could spend a whole hour talking just about that is, you know, our definition of productivity has shifted over the years with technology and I'm guilty of that, where you get to the end of the day.
And it's like, oh, it was a productive day. I answered all my emails, posted a few times on social media, but that project work is still looming. And so, definitely finding that balance online, offline. And offline doesn't mean offline, I'm sitting on the couch, you know, reading a book, drinking coffee. It could be offline working on a project that sense of deep work, that sense of working on a project.
What's your thoughts on that?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: Definitely. I think we are a little bit too obsessed with the word productivity and we often confuse it with business. And online environment definitely doesn't help with that, cuz if you think about it, let's send you an email to the team. Yeah, you're a boss. Who is gonna reply first? The most productive person or the person that wants to show up as the pieces and the most responsive?
And unless then customer support service, really, there is no need to reply immediately. But we get into the slope of, you know, like having to reply immediately of thinking you have to do that. And then we end up promoting people who do that. Yeah?
Because they have more visibility. We think that, oh, these are great people because they're always online. The truth is, when we are always online, this has a cost. And it has a cost to your ability to actually perform good work, to perform deep work. You mentioned the concept of deep work when you really focus very deeply on one thing only.
And this is the only state where you can actually achieve some meaningful results. If you're a journalist, or if you're a coach, like myself or you a researcher, you cannot really, you know, spread yourself freelance, switch between five tasks if you want to accomplish something meaningful. But very often in the organizations or small business owners, for instance, we don't reward this type of behavior. The type of behavior we reward, sometimes subconsciously is multitasking behavior.
Yeah, they always on immediately response behavior. And in my opinion, this way we are undermining, both ability of people to stay focused, but also ability to come up with creative, interesting ideas to do meaningful work, to build meaningful connections. And ultimately also create more stressful environment.
Cuz for instance, from the research, we know that after about 20 minutes of switching between different digital tasks, the level of cortisol, the stress hormone goes up. So if you constantly work the way that you're switching between your report and emails and LinkedIn, as most of us do, then don't be surprised if by the end of the day you feel exhausted.
Maybe you haven't actually accomplished something big that you were going to accomplish at the beginning of day.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It really ties in, I think with a question that I'd love to ask all my guests right off the bat is building a better world to work. You know, we talk about this 20 minute switching tasks, and I feel it. I felt it recently where at the end of the week, I was exhausted because switching task so often because I've had so much of my to-do list.
So when you hear that phrase, how do we build a better world of work? What comes to mind? How do we actually do this?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: When we speak about digital wellbeing, we think about three key pillars. Number one is the ability to focus. Ability just do focused work, ability to be fully focused in your meeting, whether it's online meeting or offline. Ability to be listened to, not just sit in the meeting where people are simultaneously reading their emails and being very busy, and you don't even know who is behind that, like screen.
That's horrible personal experience, especially for new employees, for instance, who are joining companies online. And they never met people in person and they're just talking to empty screens. That's very discouraging. So ability to create, and that's something that leadership can do, a focused environment. Yeah, without distractions. I can give you some examples of that.
Second one, very important pillar, ability to rest and unplug. You know, that in some countries in Europe, specifically, partially in Canada and there is a right to disconnect. But also it's this internal sense of, do I really have to check this email now? Can I now do something important for myself, for my family? Do I have to see it at the dinner table with my kids and actually check my work related emails? Is it really a necessity or is it a bad habit? Do I have to bring my phone to the bedroom and the first thing I do in the morning is check my emails again or news?
And what impact is it having on me? Or can I actually just really allow myself to unplug or we were talking before, we started this podcast recording about the ability to fully unplug on holidays. Yeah, most people don't do that because they're dreading the amount of email that they will see when they come back to the office.
So how do we create that? Yeah. And it's a combination of management training. It's a combination of personal awareness, but also of company policies. And for instance, some companies delete all emails that employees receive during the holiday break, or ask to resend them, yeah, once employees are back. Exactly to make sure that they don't pile up.
And the third is very important pillar. So we said, focus. Second one, rest and unplug. Physical body support. We don't really talk much about it, but most of our online work is done in front of computers. Zoom fatigue or Teams fatigue, whatever uses a real thing.
When you see it, 8, 10, 12 hours a day in front of the computer, your physical body suffers. So we definitely, as leaders, HR specialists, we want to create awareness in the employees, and then managers. Such simple things as, maybe not scheduling calls back to back.
Allowing 15, 20 minutes between the calls to actually stand up. And walk a little bit, or maybe doing more walking meetings or over the phone meetings when you don't have to stare at the screen at the same time. It's all simple things, but when you combine them, it actually creates a much better employee experience in the digital world.
And that's right now. And in 5, 10 years, we're gonna have a new challenge of, you know, new technology, that virtual reality metaverse, but let's at least tackle for now what we're, the problem we're having now. You know that, the most common work related trauma, do you know which one it is?
Tim Reitsma: No, I'm curious.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: It's a carpal tunnel syndrome. So it's when you're printing typing on your keyboard like this and actually then, you can't really well move your fingers or your wrist. Much more often than any other problem, or the eyesight. Yeah, that's weird. Half of the world's population, half of the world's population will be myopic, so they won't be able to see far by 2015.
That's real epidemics. The reason being is that we spend lots of time staring at the screens of mobile phones or of our computers, so we don't train our eyes to look far. So it should become part of health and safety at the workplace.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. As leaders, HR professionals, when we think of our organizations, maybe you are remote, maybe you are hybrid, it's so important to, to pay attention to this and focus on this. So if we know that as you'd mentioned, the data supports, research supports that, you know, by 2050 people will likely need glasses. Do we have benefits to support that?
Do we have the infrastructure to support that? And it's, you're right. It is a health and safety, but I know it as well is I often am sitting here in my home office and I, when I work from home, often I find that my legs will go numb because I haven't stood up for a few hours. I'm really dehydrated by the end of the day, because I'm just in the zone.
So if that's how I'm modeling leadership and how it's showing up, how's my team showing up? But I also love the fact like that focused environment, that rest and unplug, and that physical environment. Let's just focus a little bit just on the rest and unplug. We are so connected. We're a connected workforce.
We have people around the globe in our teams. That's one of the, maybe the gifts of a pandemic, as we found amazing talent around the globe. So, how do we set those boundaries? Where, you know, just a real example is, for me, I sent somebody in Spain, an email. First thing I did in the morning was check to see if they responded to my email.
First thing, you know, I woke up 6:00 AM, pulled up my phone, terrible habit. I need to change that. But, you know, that right to rest and unplug, how do we get there?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: First of all, there is no one fit all solution, especially if we talk about organizations. Maybe some people do want to work weird hours, maybe, I don't know, maybe I'm a mom who wants to pick up my kids, like between two and five, but then I would, you know, sit down at 8:00 PM and work until 11. And that's okay as well. So, no kind of, imposing of any rules, works.
Second, definitely awareness, you know, just letting people know that it does have an impact. Third, very important one, changing KPI. So having very clear KPIs in place. You know, when I started speaking about what's the need of you being connected, is it really part of your KPI or are you assessed based on, you know, how fast you respond? Are you assessed based on the outcomes? It's definitely kind of modeling of the behavior by leadership.
There is interesting research that was done by Harvard researchers and jointly with boston consulting group employs strategy consultants who work very long hours and they work really intense and it's a very intellectually demanding work. And Harvard researchers convinced this one group of BCG to predictably unplug once week.
Predictably unplug means that they were still working on the project, but they were not responding to client's calls, emails or anyone's inquiry, so they really could be in the zone. And first consultants were really concerned that the client would rebel and fire them or they would, won't be happy.
However, after a few months, when researchers measured the performance of the team, they discovered that the team that predictably could unplug once a week, not only perform better and not only were they happier and had better relationship within the team, but also they had better relationship with a client who did not mind or told that they were unplugging as long as they would tell the client when would be the next time that the client could hear update from them.
So the more of the story is very often we tell ourselves that we have to be all us on, you know, that we cannot really unplug and we do very poor job in terms of managing people's expectations.
Yeah, so to your example, was there a real need for you to check that at 6:00 AM? Could it have waited until 9:00 AM? Would something really change?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's something that I know for myself I've, over the years have trained myself into this behavior. And now I am consciously working to untrain that behavior. And that right to you know, as the topic says, the digital wellbeing.
I tried to unplug and I pretty successfully did that for two weeks this summer. And what I realized by the end of it was, I was more present with my family, my kids noticed a big difference. We have a rule in our household that we don't allow phones at the dinner table. So, my kids are still young.
They don't have mobile devices, but you know, even if my phone is on the table, for some reason, my kids hold me accountable. My five year old will hold me accountable to that. And so it's setting up, I think the importance of setting up that practice, but also as leaders, HR professionals, it's setting up that expectation and communicating that policies. As you said from, at the beginning is communicating that at the beginning of somebody's leadership journey, when you hire somebody, cause somebody comes onto your team.
They're eager to perform, right? You said like, so are they, you know, they're sitting there at 8 to 8:00 PM because they know a man, their boss is gonna send emails at 10 or 11, so they're just waiting to respond. You gotta set that expectation and it's easier said than done.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: Oh, yeah. That's, you know, either as we say, either the digital culture happens to you or you need to create it yourself and work on it.
And it's a daily exercise. It's the same as having a healthy lifestyle. Overall, you know, you can't just done with having healthy meals or like be done with exercise and no, never have to do any physical exercise again. Yeah, that's ongoing challenge. And it's an interesting thing that you mentioned about people come and join in the company and having certain expectations.
Yes. So company usually has one type of culture, and sometimes there are people coming from a company with a different culture. And what we know, for instance, there are three types of behavior. There are people who are very flexible with their boundaries. They really work from anywhere, anytime.
The water expanders, so-called border expanders. Then you have people who adapt their boundaries. So maybe they will look at their Apple watch or see either an important message from there both, they will respond outside of the working hours, but in principle. Otherwise, they will delay the reply until the next morning.
And then you have bordering enforcers. So people who are really strict with their boundaries. So they say, okay, six o'clock, I close my computer. No more emails, no more work related calls until next Monday. That's it. So, people who are very flexible with their boundaries, unfortunately, are people who are more likely to burn out.
Very often, these are people in sales roles or client facing roles. And very often it's young employees who really want to prove themselves. People who are very strict with their boundaries, the border enforcers, usually people, who have already burned out. Or, yeah, so they're very strict about it.
Or these are big bosses who have a bunch of secretaries who can read their emails, or these are often rare specialists who can allow themselves very, you know, extravagant behavior and just say, I'm done. Most of us are in between category. Yeah. Now what happened with the pandemic and when we moved to hybrid or online work is that we all move one step towards, you know, like the other side of the spectrum.
So if you used to be enforcers, we tend to become adapters. So we tend to be more flexible. If you used to be adapters, we tend to read, start blurring our boundaries. So that's why now you see a real issue with people burning out. Mental health on the rise after two years of the pandemic. Not just because people were in the lockdown, but also because people really had their boundaries blur.
Another typical conflict is when a person has one sort of personal preferences and the company or the team or the boss has a different one. So this is when you will have lots of mismatching conflicts or, you know, if you're in a client business, the client maybe expects you to reply to 24/7.
So that's management skill. Yeah. That's something that managers need to be educated about. That's also, it's very easy to measure. What's the percentage of which type you have in the team? Do some awareness training. There is a specific way to talk to each of the representative of these three categories, because for all of them, certain things are important.
Yeah, so for people who are blurring their boundaries, maybe it's the speed of reaction being part of something is important. For those who are very strict, maybe it's balance, that's very important. So you need to use their language. Not rocket science, really need to do some work around awareness.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I love that you'd mentioned, you know, this is a great management skill management training, and I've been doing a lot of exploration into the persona of a new manager. Somebody who's new to leading people. And one of the underlying themes is that communication piece. Not coming in and saying, this is how I works and now everybody needs to adapt to my style.
I've been part of those teams, it's hardly ever works. You likely have a high attrition rate on your team, but having that conversation, that awareness conversation, it's important, especially as we are online, global, hybrid or in the office. You could say, hey, we used to all be online nine to five.
Now we're all remote, so work whenever you want, but I'm still on nine to five. So please communicate in nine to five. But somebody's like, no, I'm, you know, I live in Vancouver, British Columbia in the winter. You can go skiing in the summer, you're mountain biking or swimming in the ocean.
And so it's like, no, it's nice that I'm gonna go for a bike ride. So, I'll communicate at 8:00 PM. If there's, yeah. Having that balance, that flexibility and how do we then move into that type of culture? Cause I think it's. It's easier said than done. So how do we practically go there?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: I would say, start with KPIs, key performance indicators. So determine how do you know your employees are doing their work well. And it requires a bit more planning, so people need to know what's urgent and what's not urgent. You cannot make everything urgent, because otherwise you're gonna have people checking at 6:00 AM and midnight emails.
You have to make it a bit more predictable, which means that you probably need to work a bit on the workflow and on operations. Again, easier said than done, but it means that you need to cooperate quite well with, between different departments. And the best cases we've seen is when companies have optin policies.
So they have, for example, optin flexible policies or optin like weekend non checking emails. And there is a general permission for people to do that, but they're not being put, you know, in a particular square. They just know that they have a right to do that and lots of this will start from the leadership.
Leading by example. Here is what really assess the culture. I've seen companies where a team manager would remind employees to take the lunch break. Would ask, Hey, why are you checking your email at midnight? I had to do this with my employees sometimes. They found it easier to work after midnight, but I didn't think this was having a good impact on them.
You probably, as a manager, especially like if you have only a few people reporting to you want to have individual conversations, you wanna make sure that people are trained to recognize their most productive hours. Yeah, for some people it's morning, for some people it's evening. It's useless if you have employee working the night shift, either not productive.
Yeah, they're gonna spend 10 hours on what they could have done in three hours. So it's helping people build their own awareness. But again, this is all meaningless if you don't have clear KPIs. How do I know that Tim is doing his podcast work great? Is it the number of downloads? Then, I don't care, right?
Like how many people you talk to? Is it so what are your KPIs? And we are really educating. Unfortunately, what we see is companies, many companies go down a different route and they track and monitor employees online behavior using technology. We've seen lots of this examples with Microsoft that try to promote a productivity score, which had a big backlash, because it was completely arbitrate.
They luckily cancel this, but in principle, over 80% of large companies globally signed up for some kind of employee surveillance software in the last two years, which is a lot. And this employee surveillance software kind of tracks what you are doing, but is it really helping you empower people? Or are you treating them more as machines?
It's a latter, actually. And again, there is lots of research that shows and when people work in the controlled environment and especially they do some monotonous work. This increases the chances of their heart related diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and so on. The direct way to burn your workforce.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It's, I was reading an article just a few days ago, talking about how, you know, one of the things like you'd mentioned through the pandemic, the rise in tracking software and tracking apps on people's computers, versus managers thinking they know exactly what their employees are working on because they can see them.
But I've had employees, I've known employees, I've known people who would classify themselves as a professional coffee drinker. You know, somebody who can walk laps around the office for six to eight hours and really get very minimal stuff done. But because they showed up, it must look like they're productive.
And, so yeah, it's now that we're tracking people or companies are tracking for one reason or another. And then you talk about the right to disconnect. And I know countries and companies are implementing, you know, well, countries are it's law in some places, this right to disconnect.
Like how do we practically live in that space where we say, Hey, you can work wherever, whenever, but countries and companies are saying, no, we're implementing these, these "rules" or these laws.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: Just to add first to your previous point again, I think we really need to redefine what it means to be productive. We adopted a little bit, this metaphor, that being productive is performing at the same time at the same pace like computers do, and that's wrong. That cannot be applied to humans.
If you think about how the human brain works, it's very similar to food digestion process. There is time to eat and there is time to digest. And if you keep eating, yeah, then you just don't allow your stomach enough time to digest to have the nutrients. So if you're working on, especially on something meaningful that requires to engage all of your brain, yeah, you need some input. You need conversations, you need research. And then you just sit down and actually leave your brain to work, and do something completely different.
You know, like be baking your pizza and not checking every two minutes if it has been baked yet. So we need to abandon this idea that we have to be checking the pizza every two minutes.
And this is where this desire to check, what are you doing? What are you doing coming from? So the right to disconnect in a way offers this opportunity, but it's a little bit difficult to implement because, again, what if, as an employee, I want to work outside of my normal working hours? Yeah. For example, then the company needs to establish what a normal working hours.
It's great that there is this production mechanism. In different countries, it's different. Some countries choose it. People need to be compensated for working outside of working hours. Some just don't allow directly to email receive emails, send emails outside of the working hours. But in principles so far, countries that implemented the writer is gonna have faced lots of criticism, exactly because it's not such a flexible policy.
While I'm in principle, I'm so fortunate. I think that if the company is operating the market where it's not offered, a company has much more flexibility to implement this more flexible policies that perhaps would cater to more employees, offering them, you know, different options.
We can do it like with, again, like online time trackers. Again, what's behind this idea of, I have to spend eight hours a day, 40 hours a week in front of the computer. 40 hours workday is something that belongs to the 19th century factory, again comes from the machines. You know, there is, it makes no scientific sense, it makes no sense from the productivity viewpoint because actually people are productive free for hours a day.
In many countries, they're now experimenting with four day work week. And principal people are keeping the same salary and principal people for being more productive. And another understanding, another thing we need to understand is that in the online world, there is no such thing as we're done with work.
It used to be, you know, when we were operating the physical world, it used to be very easy to know when the work is finished. Yeah. The work is finished when your boss has left the office or the work is finished when you have milk the cow and you have the milk. Now, do you really know when your work is finished?
Right? You talk now to Anastasia, you could do 1000 more things afterwards, right? It's up to you to decide when you stop, or you not stop. There will be always incoming emails to you. So we need to understand that it's up to us now to re-establish this boundaries of time, of space, of things you're not thinking about work.
And that's also something that we can help as leaders to our employees, by setting examples, by having conversations about it, by helping them plan better weekly, monthly deliverables. You know, what needs to be done, what is good to do? And again, going back to the redefining what is productive, what's busy.
I can spend the whole day having conversations posted on LinkedIn. Does it make me progress with my work? Does it make me finish my book? Like, which may be like is due to, in two months, or what, how do you measure that somebody is actually doing their work well?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah it's so, so important. Again, this is just kind of the theme for the, for this conversation is, from a leader and from a manager's perspective, is that redefinition of productivity, whether you're in the office or not. So, you know, I've remember early on in my career, I was doing general labor. I knew exactly when my shift started and I knew when it ended, because a bell rang.
So as soon as the bell rang, you got to work. As soon as it rang again, you dropped what you were doing and you walked out. It doesn't matter how far along in your task was, my shift is done. I'm out. Whereas now it's creating that space where a team member can come to you and say, look, I'm, you know, I'm just need to go for a walk or, Hey, I'm gonna not ask for permission, but I'm gonna step out.
But I'll be back online probably around eight o'clock, and finish up my task. It's like, that's fine. And my team says that to me all the time. It's like, yeah, if you wanna go for a swim in the middle of the day, cause it's really hot, so we have our editors who's in Spain and it's really hot. Go for it.
Like it doesn't, we know what we need to do. We agreed on the goals. We know what the output is. Every single month we do our goal review and that leads up into our larger quarterly goals. And so are you on track? Are you on task? Is it, are we pushing forward? If we're not, what's happening? That opens up a different conversation.
That's a conversation I want to have versus, Hey, I've noticed that you haven't been at your desk online for the full 40 hours, as per your employment contract. Like that's not fun.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: It's not, and it's still very much, you know, it has to do with all kind of payment models that also need to be reviewed, right? How are you paying? Based on what are you paying? And very much about, you know, the security of the manager.
The manager needs to control something. It's much easier to control a person being present in the number of hours. And technology really doesn't help us with that because technology, tech companies, they tend to simplify things because it's much easier to quantify.
Yeah. So yes, of course it's much easier to create a productivity score based on how much time, you know, like you spend on writing emails, but what is it really telling you about your work? You know, is it telling you that I'm a good journalist because I wrote 100 emails?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It's that definitions. I've remember colleagues saying, oh yeah, today was a good day. I sent 56 emails. It's like, well, what did we gain out of that? Unless, you know, you're on the sales organization and these are all closing deals, but I think we do have this. We have this imbalance on our online and offline lives.
Like we've created these systems to say, we need to be online. We have to respond to our bosses and it's we just have to have that conversation. If you're listening to this and feeling, I'm burning out because my boss won't leave me alone, keeps messaging me at 11:00 PM.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: On WhatsApp, on private WhatsApp.
Tim Reitsma: On private WhatsApp, hey, are you up? Can we talk? May be a real story. Set the boundaries. No. Like, yeah, it's scary to say that to a manager, to your boss, but you know, just let everybody know that, Hey, I'm offline at this time or here's my, here's when I'm most productive.
But you know, as I look to, as we look to wrap up I do want to touch on one subject because I know it's, you're doing some research here and I know you're passionate about this, and I'm curious about this, which is the metaverse.
We haven't talked about this. I think we'll spin up a whole new episode in the coming months just on this topic itself, but I'd like to just touch a little bit on this, cuz we've, you've been hearing a lot about the metaverse, especially with Facebook or Meta, now that it's called. In a minute or two, what are your predictions or thoughts of this up and coming technology within our organizations, with as HR professionals or people leaders?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: So, first of all, nobody knows yet what's metaverse. But there is already lots of money going into it. Yeah. So my prediction, number one, your organization will probably spend lots of money on a tax solution. And then it will try to figure out what to do with that. This will be driven by CTO and they will think that this is great as it often happens, you know, digital transformation will, people will be thrown into it.
So what you can do as an HR manager is, you know, at least have some preliminary conversations around, are there any new digital tools we're adopting? How is this gonna impact the work the way we interact and have some old company conversations, definitely make friends with CTO in the next few months.
The CTO is now the boss. They have the budget and they're the ones who, who are going to be targeted by big tech, not you as in HR, unfortunately. As much as I would like an HR to have more say in what's happening. Yeah, but the digital transformation is driven by technology and that's why, by the way, very often fails. In terms of what it probably will look like.
So it probably will look like that there will be an avatar. So I, as an employee, would be able to choose who I wanna be. Yeah, so maybe tomorrow I would like to be, I dunno, native Indian like in a me meeting in my avatar. I will be transferring this avatar from platform to platform. So like from Zoom to, I don't know, MS Teams to our collaboration platform.
It'll add lots of complexity, obviously. We will blur further boundaries between work and private life. We will see that a lot. So again, what type of company information will be shared, not shared? That's something that will need to be very clear, articulate, and people need to be trained upon it.
And probably this will involve more sitting. Yeah. This will probably involve some form of virtual reality. It doesn't mean that we will all be like in the metrics, constantly immersed in it, but it's been very actively pushed, so probably at least in some processes. It will facilitate collaboration.
Not just for online meetings, but for example, they're already very interesting experiments in virtual reality. Probably it will also lead to creating internal currencies, maybe even intracompany internal currencies. That will be something interesting to see, so kind of the whole financial wellbeing aspect goes into that.
And you will need to look a lot of financial wellbeing in the coming years in relation to metaverse. But I also think that right now we have no idea. What is gonna be just, you know, somebody told you 15 years ago, we're all gonna build Facebook on Instagram. Nobody would be able to visualize it because it's really the way we use it as people.
Yeah. It's not that somebody created it and it's more, it evolves the way we use it. So, I just want to finish it on a positive note. I think it's also to empower you, as an HR person, as a leader, as an employee, to understand that you're not slave to technology to even there is more and more tech tools being thrown at you.
It's the way you adapted to use it. You can support what makes you more competitive, more human, as opposed to just say, okay, I'm now slave to this piece of tech and I will have to wear my VR helmet 24 7. And that's the only way for me to survive.
Tim Reitsma: I'm so happy you ended on that happy note, because it is, it's we choose as organizations how to use the technology that we believe is coming.
We just don't know what it's gonna look like. And yeah, I mean, a couple years ago we never thought that we'd be spending most of our time on online calls and online collaborations. And so, so I appreciate that you, you took a minute, a couple minutes just to talk to us a little bit about that.
And we will definitely talk more about the future of work and in relation to the metaverse and what are some of those predictions.
But Dr. Dedyukina, I really appreciate that you coming on and talking to us about digital wellbeing. As leaders, it's so important that we communicate with our teams about how we work, when we work, what's acceptable behavior, what's not when it comes in relation with on and offline.
But also creating space that we can free up ourselves from distraction. I think that's a big takeaway that I'm taking away is I took a note is deep work days used to do them. Love them. Don't know why I'm not doing them now.
So it's being protecting your time. Don't let other people dictate what your calendar looks like. You dictate what your calendar looks like, so.
With that, again, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. How can people reach you if they'd like to know more about the coaching you provide and your business?
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina: Sure. Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure sharing the insights. I encourage everyone to check our website consciously-digital.com or just add me on LinkedIn.
I think I'm the only doctor pro institutional there. Feel free to ask me any questions. Also, if you're interested in any of the links to the research I mentioned, just ping me and I will be very happy to share it with you.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And for those who are listening, we'll definitely include all those links in our show notes and we have all the links already. And so we'll, we'll put that up in the show notes. So please head to peoplemanagingpeople.com and so that's a good way to connect as well.
And if you are listening and you like what you heard, or you have some questions, shoot me an email at Tim@peoplemanagingpeople.com. Always looking to continue the conversation on the podcast.
And again, for those who listen, thanks for tuning in. I really appreciate it and have a good day!