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21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

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Feb 24, 2022

WLP294 What’s Going On: Wellbeing and Emojis

This episode is a hybrid of What’s Going On and Thinking Remote. Maya and Pilar revisit the chapter from Thinking Remote: Sick and Tired, Working and Not-Working on a Remote Team. They also discuss asynchronous communication and how it’s being adopted in the workspace, they talk about the role of emojis and finally, they share a couple of social media discussions. 

4.05 mins 

In the past (before the pandemic), taking time off work meant you had one of two choices – both were difficult processes. 

The first option was to go into work, even though you were ill - unless you were very ill, it was almost expected you would go into work, plus, we did not want to let our teammates down. 

The second option was to stay at home, but even then you were not fully away from work, as you could still do some work online and lessen the workload for your colleagues to feel less guilty. In both cases there is a sense of fear of work piling up that is still prominent even in current times. 

This has continued even in the pandemic. It takes a lot of self-discipline to step away and focus on resting and recovering. 

When visible teamwork is implemented, it should make taking time off to recover an easier process. As we are able to communicate our progress and give access to our work. This can help people rest and recover. 

Another part that is changing is our approach to mental health, as it is becoming acknowledged and more accepted to take a mental health leave in the workplace.

20.12 mins 

Pilar and Maya talk about the new space created by Salesforce called Trailblazer Ranch. It is a holistic and nature driven space with the purpose of getting people to connect with their team. They also discuss the article Diving Deeper Five workforce trends to watch in 2021, which states that wellbeing is a part of how we are doing work, it is not a separate aspect of it. (Yes, it’s a year old but it all still feels relevant.)

We can give people autonomy to make meaningful decisions about their contributions to the organisation to help prevent disconnection. This means we don’t need expensive programmes to look after our employees’ wellbeing.

25.47 mins 

The Royal Society for Arts (RSA) has recently released Social security: The risks from automation and economic insecurity for England’s social renters covering the state of the UK’s social housing, used by those who cannot afford market rates. Part of this article states: 

“When employed, people in social housing are less likely to benefit from good work practices that support their economic and personal security: only 38 percent of social renters are in work which offers them an annual incremental pay increase, and three quarters (74 percent) never worked from home, even in the height of the pandemic.”

When we are considering why we are doing hybrid or remote work, the main aim is to achieve autonomy and flexibility , but we still need to prevent a two-tiered workforce being created. You therefore need to find ways to provide flexibility for those who cannot do their work remotely. 

31.49 mins 

Maya and Pilar shift to the topic of asynchronous communication, in the context of emojis. They discuss an article titled Do emojis represent the whole gamut of human emotion? The short answer is, yes they do. 

For this experiment they took 74 different facial emojis and observed how much valence and arousal they had communicated amongst a demographic of 1000 Japanese participants aged 20 to 39. To quote the article:

“They see our emotional experiences as falling along continuous scales of both valence - how positive or negative an emotion is -  and arousal. So, for instance, “sadness” has a negative valence but is fairly low in arousal; “anger” is also negatively-valenced but high in arousal; and “excitement” is positively-valenced  but is still high in arousal.” 

They have given us a cool graph with all of the emojis plotted of these different levels to show how different emojis have different effects. For instance, emojis that have accessories, such as the starry eyed or blue icicle, have higher arousal ratings.

When communicating with people from different countries and cultures we need to take these aspects into consideration. The article, Caution! These emojis mean different things in different countries, discusses this. For instance it mentions that the prayer emoji can have different meanings depending on the culture.  


News from the social media community and our connections:

Follow the conversation on Twitter about helping people adopt asynchronous communication.

Pilar will be speaking at Social Now in Lisbon, in May. Check out the programme, centred around a case study. (And look out for organiser Ana Neves talking about it on this podcast.)

Penny Pullan has released the second edition of her book Virtual Leadership. You can get a 20% discount with the code FBM20 from the publisher’s website.

Lucid Meetings have released a new course “Free Your Team From Unproductive Meetings”, If you would like to sign up to their March/April programme, this link will take you there. (Please note it’s an affiliate link, so if you sign up, you’ll also be supporting this podcast.)

Have you got any news you’d like to share with our audience? Let us know through our contact form or Twitter.
We also have a page on LinkedIn you can follow.


If you have any other questions about asynchronous communication or have any thoughts or ideas you want to discuss you can tweet at Virtual not Distant or at Maya or Pilar directly.