Preparing for Re-entry into the Physical Workplace: Lessons from NASA

Astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Diaz works with a grapple fixture during extravehicular activity to perform work on the International Space Station

Astronaut crews living and working in space experience as a matter of course what many of us experienced unexpectedly during the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic. Consider these similarities:

  • They are physically isolated for a long period of time from family, friends, and the majority of their work colleagues.
  • Their daily in-person interactions are limited to the few people they live with and their other interactions are intermediated through digital technology.
  • Their home also serves as their workplace.
  • They are surrounded by a dangerous environment that poses a threat to their physical health. (For them, the dangers include a lack of oxygen in outer space; for us, the danger has been the risk of contracting COVID-19.)

Hope Employees Will Return to the Office? Start Here.

Coworkers laughing together in office

As the world opens up again following COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, employers that were previously accustomed to a steady hum of activity in the cubicles and corridors must decide if they are going to bring people back into the office full-time, continue to allow them to work remotely, or come up with a hybrid arrangement that provides for a mix of in-office and remote work. A positive way to view this decision is that it provides a fresh start, an opportunity to strengthen the relational subcultures throughout your organization. 

GovExec Daily Podcast Appearance: The Utility of Breaks and Breakdowns

Stressed man sitting outside having a breakdown

Recently, Katie Stallard and I wrote about the benefits of taking breaks and even of giving yourself time for a “breakdown” when you’ve pushed too hard. It’s a topic that’s relevant for many working professionals who face pressure to keep producing high volumes of work without sufficient rest.

GovExec Daily invited us to discuss this topic further in a new podcast. Listen to our conversation and consider what steps you can take to give yourself – and those you lead – the space to recharge.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Having an Old-fashioned Nervous Breakdown Might Be a Good Thing

Man reading and relaxing outdoors

Should the term “nervous breakdown” be embraced again? One of my (Michael’s) favorite journalists, Jerry Useem, provides a fascinating look at the history of the nervous breakdown in this article he wrote for The Atlantic titled “Bring Back the Nervous Breakdown.” Where Useem lands aligns with my thinking as an advocate for fostering connection, both for its positive effect on individuals and for how it improves the performance of groups, as well as what I share with clients about the harmful effects of stress and disconnection.

GovExec Daily Podcast Appearance: How to Connect While Working Remote

Laptop screen showing remote team members on a video call

One of the biggest challenges leaders face in leading remote teams is finding ways to keep members connected.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the GovExec Daily podcast to talk about this issue and share a simple tactic for facilitating employee conversations: bringing back “show and tell.” Listen to the podcast to learn more about this tactic and how to implement it with your own team.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

Finding Brave Podcast Appearance

Kathy Caprino Podcast Banner

Recently, I had the privilege of being a guest on the Finding Brave podcast hosted by Kathy Caprino. A therapist, career coach, and author, Kathy is on a mission to help listeners – particularly professional women – access the courage they need to honor their true passions, talents, and values in life and work. 

Connect Your Remote Team Through Personal Knowledge

Man talking to his remote team members on a video call

Remember doing “Show and Tell” or presenting to your classmates as the “Student of the Week” when you were in elementary school? As it turns out, our teachers were on to something. Bringing back an updated version of this practice would be more than merely an entertaining way to enliven a meeting at work. It may be just what teams need in year two of the Covid-19 pandemic.