Ep #87: Minding The Guilt Curve with Gary Walker
Be A Brilliant Remote Worker

 
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Why do people tend to overwork when they first start working remotely? Why do you feel suddenly guilty when you get to manage your own time? How does remote work help you progress in your career? Why is being mindfully ‘present’ such an important skill?

Today on the show we talk to Gary Walker, an independent consultant and part of the Distribute Consulting team, whose COO we spoke to on last week’s episode. COO Sunny Ziemer shared a lot about their remote company culture, and it’s interesting to talk to Gary who works with them in a consultative capacity.

Gary has a really interesting role within the team, consulting on digital infrastructure, toolkits and product creation. In his external facing capacity he works with Distributes client’s, having the bigger conversations around technology & a company’s digital toolkit, looking at which tools they in invest in and how they use them to support their company infrastructure, as well as how they can be used support the company culture and team wellbeing. He’s particularly passionate about how a company’s digital toolkit can be used for the greater good. His internal facing focus is about creating proprietary products and prototypes to bring to market, things like a calculator that helps a company identify the degree of work flexibility possible their team, or tool recommendations that can support their infrastructure. So, he has his fingers in a lot of different pies; his role is multifaceted… and fascinating.

What really stands out is his commitment to his personal wellbeing and that of others, a journey that has taken 14 years, with lessons learned the hard way, which I can totally relate to. And he also raised a brilliant concept called the Guilt Curve which I’d never heard expressed that way, so listen out for that.

You can find out more about Gary over at 22 North and grab a copy of the book and access other resources at Ready For Remote.

Highlights from this episode include:

If you’ve found yourself suddenly ‘working from home’ and struggling to adjust, that’s completely expected.

“You’re at home and you’re trying to to work during a crisis, the the mindset, the kind of social dynamic is completely different. And therefore, if you’ve never worked for a sustained period out of an office before, you’re going to find it super challenging… because I think the biggest risk is always isolation and loneliness. And if you don’t know, the social aspect of remote working is more deliberate, but certainly not diminished. Right now, everything’s diminished.”

It might be the case that you’re overworking to prove yourself & create job stability

“… generally when you substitute a commute, when you’re working remotely, people will do things maybe meditation, maybe go for a walk, or whatever, whether they choose to do, I think right now the economic climate and that anxiety people are feeling I think some people are substituting commute to overwork and almost prove themselves, and almost create that job stability.”

With most companies likely to return to a hybrid model, now’s the time for leadership to start asking the right questions.

“Whereas when you open up hybrid, you’ve got people that will go back to their tendencies, and if you don’t have that remote-first mindset, you can start to really start to fracture that culture and that connected culture. So that’s definitely something that just trying to support people on will give them guidance on what kind of things they can consider, like: What does remote force really mean? And how do you move to a more asynchronous way of working? How can you be more considerate of multiple time zones and people’s time and almost moving away from that ‘always readily available’ [culture]?

Remote work, when supported by leadership & infrastructure, helps you progress in your career

“…you’re measured on outcomes. And I think that’s a good thing because it encourages you to focus on something to completion as well. So [if] you’re doing it in the right way, and you’re supported in the right way, and you get the right alignment and autonomy, then you’re not trying to walk on nine different things at once and never deliver any of them, you get to focus on specific things and produce output. I think putting work out there, delivering on it, being measured on it, is powerful, in terms of progression, as well.”

‘Presence’ is a rare but critical skill to ‘give it your all’ especially in remote work

“I think ‘presence’ is probably the most under acknowledged [skill], like I see it in a lot of organizations where people multitask and have meetings and go to devices… I’ve seen people email other people in the meeting during a meeting, and that’s one thing that’s really important from a remote perspective as making sure if you are having a synchronous meeting that you’re really present, and you’re giving it your all. So that’s why I touch upon well being as much as possible.”

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