Almost overnight, a new specialty has emerged in professional services: Wellness for remote workers.
Salesforce, Axis Bank, Google, Nike, and Microsoft all are hosting online meditation sessions for their thousands of human resources now working from home. (I personally lead meditation sessions for employees of my company three times a week.)
Also surging? streaming video exercise classes, mental health sessions, team activities, Doordash days and other perks peculiar to remote employees.
All these tactics acknowledge the rarely mentioned but now largely absent emotional and physical “benefits” that come with grouping all company employees in the same office tower.
We love to complain about traffic, but a daily commute creates a natural dividing line between work and family life. Listening to your own classical playlist, digging the purr of the car engine, reading Scripture on MARTA, or just backseat window gazing provides a daily meditative benefit. We whine about dirty coffee cups in the communal office sink, but water cooler chats feed our herd instinct and catch us up on what’s new in the town, in the industry, or on Netflix.
We roll our eyes when the boss convenes another “Town Hall” meeting to rah-rah us through the quarterly sales goals, but we relish the privilege of working for transparent and communicative management.
We pooh-pooh the sedentary nature of office work, but the hike from the bus station and a jog up the stairs is still a thousand steps more than we get from the bed to the laptop.
Downloads of apps like Happier, Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are rising. The Meditation Station on Pandora is the new Top 40. Podcasts on how to keep your cool, balance your mind and play your best are climbing the charts.
Without even planning to do so, we are quickly filling gaps created by this sudden slide to solitude.
Even as we stay indoors, we want doors to open.
It’s time for new leaders to step up to new leadership. It’s not enough to simply tell remote employees to “not work too much” or “to take care of themselves.” No one wants to be lectured about stress management. They want to be actively de-stressed. And it’s the people who have developed habits of calm introspection who now teach the world how to perform in this brave new world.
I saw a meme recently: “Attention introverts: Call to comfort your extravert friends. They don’t know how this works!”
Indeed, it’s now the self-starters, lone thinkers and self-assured achievers that are tasked with inventing new ways to create community our dislocated, disjointed and displaced workplace.
It remains, however, the business leader’s job to field and execute the programs that will collect, relax and motivate all employees.
Here’s a tip on how to begin: Breathe deep.
Celia Willis lives in Avondale Estates and is the CEO of KWI, a consulting and communications firm based in Atlanta. She manages her business and social relationships from an appropriate distance.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com