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3-2-1: remote work - rotting fish - reconnection

Updated: Mar 22, 2022


3 ideas from me.

2 quotes from others.

1 question for you.

This is the set structure of the newsletter of Atomic Habits author James Clear. This structure bestows the text with a funky rhythm. So I thought: why don’t I take on this format too, to inspire people.

So here we go.

3 ideas from me

Idea 1

rotten fish

'The importance of self-leadership and enhanced self-awareness of how we employ our time. Yes, really interesting, Isabel. But what I notice is that our managers are not great followers of these ideas. On the contrary, people at the highest level demand we all go back to the office as often as possible.'

This is what a participant dropped on my lap last week.

My reaction was the following: 'That makes me sad. And you know, it’s a bit like with fish.'

Then I paused for a moment The room held its breath.

'Well, the fish always stinks from the head downwards.'

The room cracked up with laughter.

By the way, did you know Goldman Sachs CEO summoned his people back to the office full-time 2 weeks ago? It's the guy who stated during the pandemic that remote work is not the new normal, but simply an aberration. Well. Barely half of his employees turned up.

Poor chap.

Idea 2


Those who support working from home use the word autonomy with great enthusiasm. They will then often refer to the self-determination theory of Deci & Ryan. Two old American chaps who were already conducting research on what drives people back in 70s.

While reading articles written by Deci & Ryan the following caught my attention:

when they talk about autonomy, they are not talking about control options or choices – a concept sociologist Karasek does refer to. Deci & Ryan are talking about autonomous motivation: the ability to carry out those activities that make you happy or activities that you deem meaningful and purposeful.

In other words, if you use the word autonomy as being able to choose then you are referring to Karasek. If you want to refer to Deci & Ryan, then use the term autonomous motivation.

I see a clear link between Karasek’s autonomy and the ability to organise your own work in a hybrid setting.

I also see a clear link between Deci & Ryan’s autonomous motivation and hybrid work: to be invited to reflect upon an optimal, ergonomic, and responsible use of your time and energy.

So: both of them are interesting.

And both of them are linked to the future of work.

But don’t confuse the two of them.

Karasek and Deci & Ryan will thank you for it.

Idea 3


Do you know what storytelling means?

The more I work on the topic, the less obvious the definition seams.

  • Some talk about applying fixed narrative schemes, as those fervently used in American Pixar films (hero – problem – catharsis – all’s well that ends well).

  • Some refer to storytelling as “speak from the heart, be authentic”.

  • And yet there are others who claim that storytelling is the skill of the future for managers who want to bring meaning to their employees’ activities.

That Babylonian confusion of tongues gets on my nerves.

I’ll dig deeper into that in the coming weeks.

I hope to be able to shine my own light in that darkness.

2 quotes from others

Quote 1

loss of connection

'Whether an employee works often or seldom from home has little influence on the connection one feels with colleagues and the organisation', says Heidi Verlinden at Securex. 'The leadership style practiced in a company is much more important.'

Quote 2

working from home

'The way in which people respond to working from home and the pandemic is determined by two factors: individual characteristics and job characteristics. Individual characteristics concerns optimism, hope and flexibility. Job characteristics refer to the job’s requirements, whether people have autonomy, and whether there is support and clear communication.'

The above quote comes from Professor Kathleen Vangronsvelt of the Antwerp Management School.

I understand this quote as follows: it’s not that working from home is good or bad as such.

The vision on working from home is defined and shaped by the individual as well as the way in which a person may/must work.

Yep! I then also see a clear link between quotes 1 and 2.

1 question for you

Keep track of how many times you open your mailbox.

Are you ashamed at the end of the day?

Are you a knowledge worker? Then your email box should not be your primary workstation.

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