A remote worker’s most important tools.

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As I have been traveling in Portugal, Finland, Spain and England these past weeks, I have once again been struck by the commonalities we share as humans…both in our need for meaningful work and renewing play time. This balance is especially important for those who have chosen the path of remote work. However, the degree to which cultures intentionally plan for playtime is varied.

While in Finland I was honored to be part of a Global Faculty Colloquium held at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyvascula; 18 individual from around the globe presented their practices related to applied research in the post secondary classroom. Inspiring, informative, and innovative ideas were shared, and each brought their unique culture and perspective to the conversation. However, the learning that left the strongest impression on me was the intentionality demonstrated by the Finnish people…our hosts. These people are hard workers, but take seriously their time to step back and enjoy the wonder of the country they are blessed to live in. Time and again, we heard guides and locals alike refer to ‘living room spaces’…spaces where people take time out of their work to simply sit, visit, get to know one another, and reflect on life. Time to be still, to think, to watch, to simply…be. I would suggest this is one of the two most important tools for a remote worker, the pre-cursor to innovative and creative thinking.

You may have intentional playtime all figured out, but for many this is a necessity that all to easily gets pushed aside. There is almost a panic that sets in if we are not doing something that contributes to existing contracts or to the pursuit of new business. While in Helsinki it was a treat to sit among the many people taking time out of their busyness to enjoy a pastry and coffee from one of the many sidewalk cafes, or simply sit on a bench along the city’s central linear park…intentionally taking advantage of the many ‘living room spaces’. But this is not a new concept…we are all keenly aware of the need for such ‘playtime’…aware, of , but perhaps not committed to .

I was also stuck by the intentionality of the Finns regarding building relationships in business. The value they place on taking time to create a foundation of trust before moving forward with business dealings is commendable; people first, business second.From my perspective, the other most important tool is trust. Taking time up front to get to know the people you are engaging with…learning their values, their passions, and their intentions goes a long way in saving valuable time when deciding what business will be conducted, and how…or even if you want to conduct business with a particular person or organization. Yes, this can be difficult if you are separated from potential clients by great distances, but I would suggest the effort put into spending time even in a virtual ‘living room space’ will payoff in the long run. To be certain, the investment in relationship and trust building doesn’t end once a contract has been signed, it’s only the beginning…this is certainly the way with our Finnish colleagues.

Suggested considerations…

  • be intentional in investing time and effort into building trusting relationships with both current and potential colleagues,
  • give some thought as to the how? of creating ‘living room spaces’, face to face whenever possible, and virtually when necessary,
  • pay attention to how much attention you pay to ‘playtime’.

What might you add to this list in order to enjoy intentional playtime, and build trusting relationships with your colleagues?

Next week I begin teaching Leadership to a class of 3rd year business students…I think these are two questions I will present in order to start the leadership conversation.

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