Conventional Wisdom Busted by Science

By Jamie McDaniel, Canadian Management Centre

Busted by Science

There are lots of good reasons to access this podcast by organizational podcast, TED speaker and best-selling author Adam Grant—getting the backstory behind the Potato Boss, learning how virtual haircuts work and hearing one astronaut’s account of being seriously remote for almost a year, just to name a few. Our favorite takeaways include these 3 distinct nuggets of advice that you can now ignore with a clear conscience. 

  1. Leaders, unite your remote team with fun videoconference activities  Unstructured socializing is undoubtedly a good thing and something we need and miss while working from home. However, the research shows the keys to remote workforce unity are actually a shared identity—an authentic sense of “we’re all in this together”—and shared understanding of everyone’s reality. And trading binge-watching recommendations over Zoom may not be the best way to get there. Instead, put some effort into making sure everyone knows what everyone’s dealing with—who’s got the twin toddlers running around, who’s working odd hours so they can care for elderly relatives, who’s always on mute because they’re in their living room with a spouse and 3 dogs. A good litmus test: ask yourself whether team members behave in ways that could be puzzling (or make you think they’re slacking!) but aren’t because you understand what’s going on with them. 
  2. Always turn on your video  Surprise! Although we may think that being able to see each other’s faces and body language improves understanding between remote colleagues, Grant cites various studies that show we actually read each other’s emotions better when we can’t see each other. This is because we are forced to pay more attention to the message’s content and speaker’s tone of voice. An important caveat, though; this only works once trust has been established as visual interactions are an important part of building that initial rapport.
  3. Live for today  You can now take down those inspirational posters and fridge magnets that exhort you to live in the moment, stop and smell the roses and seize the day. This is still great advice for normal times, but nowadays, a lot of present moments just, well, suck. Mental time travel can help make time speed up, slow down, or inject a much-needed sense of meaning and joy into your days. For example, imagine how you want to feel at the end of this crisis—proud, maybe? Grateful for your co-workers? Excited about the progress you’ve made? Appreciative of the chance to be in the same room again? Spending some mental energy like this can help you refocus on your purpose and escape the drain of the mundane. 

Listen to the full episode to learn more about the benefits of nostalgia, counterfactual thinking and even worry for improving your effectiveness and well-being while WFH.

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