What I Learned the Week of February 11, 2022

From a Podcast … Knowledge Workers survey results – When I work is more important than Where I work

Bruce Daisley is a thought leader in the space of workplace culture and the future of work. In this podcast he interviews Brian Elliott from Future Forum, a group led by Slack and Julia Hobsbawm, futurist in work discussions who chairs a workshift commission and recently published a new book The Nowhere Office. While there was nothing earth shattering new I learned it was a great synopsis of what we are hearing in multiple other forums as it relates to return to the office and hybrid workforce. The one data point that I did stop and say to myself “wow” was that while a significant number of workers want flexibility in where they work.

  • 78% of all survey respondents (10,000 knowledge workers participated in survey) say they want location flexibility (up from 76% last quarters survey and compares to 58% of population who say they are already in a hybrid arranged)
  • 95% want schedule flexibility (up from 93%)

I hope leaders are listening as it seems most of the conversations currently about hybrid workforce has been overly focused on the office vs. home. A page needs to be taken from those companies who have truly implemented an asynchronous work culture like GitLab who have been working remotely, with over 1500 employees, since before the pandemic. This is the future and the future is here.

From a Book …3 parts of Anxeity

Projections by Karl Deisseroth was a fascinating book that showcased Karl’s innovative work in both bioengineering, psychiatry and behavioural science. Each chapter provided a story based on clinical patients he had worked with in the past and providing deeper insights to what is going on in a persons brain when they are struggling with a mental illness. If you ever were curious about the what’s happening this is a great place to start.

A new highlight for me was understanding that we now know that anxiety is 3 distinct parts, each being controlled by different cells. Those are:

  • Physiology Changes- our heart beating faster and/or breathing faster
  • Behavioural Changes – avoidance of situations we perceive as risky or create anxiety in us
  • Negative Valence – the unpleasantness of an emotional stimulus. This part is probably the most difficult to experience and the most difficult to understand. If we already have the behavioural change of avoiding the risky situation why does nature also have to make us feel bad at the same time This is what causes so much suffering for most of us.

These different parts all come together and go away together. What Karl and other researchers discovered is that these all are controlled by different cells. With most anxiety treatments that exist today, if not all mental health therapies, they target all of the symptoms together which sometimes can have negative symptoms or unintentional consequences. The work being doing in optogenetics experiments are providing opportunities to identify the different cells that control each of these parts and a thus allowing us to eventually target treatments to each of these parts independently. One study Karl shared was demonstrating the ability to create the behavioural change in mice (avoidance of open spaces) without creating the negative feeling. The possibilities of this level of dissection to how our brain/body works could revolutionize how we provide treatments for mental health.

If you aren’t up for the book then you can check out some of what Karl is up to in the podcast from The Drive

From a Real Live People … Grief & Laughter

Maybe I have entered into the age where those in my circle are at that stage in life where our elders are dying. I struggled to even write that word as I wanted to say something not quite so harsh like moving on or leaving us. But the reality is we are talking about death and we all do die someday. Yet we still approach it with fear and turmoil.

What I learned this week with my close friends, of whom 3 have lost a father/father-in-law in the past couple weeks, is that grief may be hard but it doesn’t have to be without some light hardiness. About 8 of us came together to just have a “girls night” and provide our love and support to these beautiful women in grief. Yes there was sadness and the welling up of eyes but there was also laughter as we debated the merits of different male actors (yes you know what I mean by merits – I don’t need to spell it out).

At one point I looked over at the good friend who had experienced the most recent loss had a big smile on her face as she snuggled into the couch and she said to herself “This is exactly what I needed”.

The grief was still there and if it is like my experience of grief will be there for years to come. But in that moment she got to feel grief and joy. And it was a beautiful moment to embrace.

From Social Media … Prescriptions from Nature

This was shared with me through one of my social media channels and while the concept of nature as a healing tool for mental health was not new to me this site was. I really appreciate how this site, funded by my home province, BC, parks foundation, and Health by Nature, provides multiple data points for Adults, Kids, and The Planet. For example, it is noted that children who live on tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma. Obviously, there could be other factors involved here and nothing can be 100% true. However, if the probability suggested is reliable then it points to another area of privilege for those who can afford to live in neighbourhoods where trees are abundant get one more leg up over those who do not.

Overall, this unified view, with detailed tidbits and tips for action, solidifies why I am so much happier when I find time to get out in our lovely forests every day if only for 30 minutes. Hopefully, with this new hybrid working model it might encourage more people to live further away from the city, and in nature, so that there might be a little more green space in our cities for those who really must live there. Food for thought as corporations are thinking about their sustainability goals. How can they create more opportunities for their employees to be in nature as part of their mental health workforce strategy and provide leadership within the jurisdictions they set up in to create more green spaces.


From My Reflections … With Age Comes Wisdom (Really!)

This is not a revolutionary concept and I am sure each of us has heard it from various stories throughout our lives (probably a few too many times when we were teens). But it’s refreshing to actually start to notice when it is indeed happening for you.

My husband and I have one of those typical relationships where I will think inside thoughts about how he should anticipate my every desire. Goodness knows what he is thinking of but what there is little evidence that he has developed mind reading techniques as of yet. Of course I could just make the request to him out loud, for which 99% of the time he always responds positively, but where would the fun be in that.🙂

In the past (and possibly even again in the future) I have let those unsaid requests build, waited for him to not do what I wanted him to do, and then get mad at him for not being able to read my mind. Classic passive aggressive behaviour which would usually escalate into me getting verbally angry at him about something that appears trivial. Him then getting defensive and sullen. And each of us sulking for hours after (or days).

This past weekend we had this play out while we were snowboarding and he did not anticipate my desire for how lunch would be handled. I snapped. He bit. Then we shut up.

We sat there in silence and ate our lunches.

A few minutes past and then something shifted. I allowed myself to stop thinking about how frustrated I was in that moment and to instead reflect on my contributions to the situation. While it might have been perfectly reasonable to have the idea of how lunch should be, I had not actually every expressed those desires even though there was ample opportunity to have done so. I then realized that I could let this bug me for the rest of the afternoon and have a sucky time snowboarding on a beautiful sunny day OR I could just let it go.

And like that I let it go. And what was even better is that I could feel that not only had my energy shifted so did his. We could immediately come back together, without words, and just let that silly/stupid moment pass without having to ruin the rest of our day. This was the new learning for me. That shifts in negative energy could happen so quickly in both people without any words. Pretty neat.

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