Phrase of Change
a change of work or occupation can be as restorative or refreshing as a period of relaxation (the free dictionary)
I was thinking about change and the sheer volume of changes in our personal and working lives just this year. The year started (or continued for some) with bushfires and devastation of native wildlife, land, businesses and property. We then had a brief reprieve where many of us got back to ‘normal’ and our lives continued.
Then we had a pandemic – and the sheer enormity of changes we experienced, in our homes, work and places we visit or reside emerged.
And I sat there reflecting on the word change and thought ‘well they say a change is as good as rest’. But is it?
The Airline Experience
Worldwide, the number of airline staff that ordinarily fly across different time zones when others would normally sleep is huge. Most are now grounded or have been stood down from their normal roles.
For some this is the first time they’ve been on a standard time zone for many years. Normally they are exposed to multiple risks such as air quality, loud noise, physical job demands and disruption to their circadian rhythm (our internal biological clock that regulates our body based on our wake/sleep cycles).
The Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS) found lots of health issues that impact flight attendants including (and definitely not limited to):
- Fatigue – extended and irregular hours is the norm for flight staff
- Sleep – our bodies rely on our circadian rhythm and so disrupted sleep leads to disruption of this. This in turn can lead to increased mental health issues.
- A 3-fold increase in the prevalence of chronic bronchitis
- A 3.5 times increase in prevalence of high blood pressure
Feedback from some that have been stood down recently is that by getting regular sleep and not having the same levels of fatigue they are feeling much healthier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. For this cohort of worker – the change appears to have given them the rest!
The Working Parent Experience
Many of us experienced a change – we suddenly moved from our workplaces into our homes. And for many working parents, we suddenly had an additional layer on top of that – home-schooling.
While some parents coped really well (you know the ones who displayed their home-schooling prowess while they delivered world leading strategy on Instagram), others (myself and my husband included) were muddling our way through. Our working day became an interrupted period of maths, literacy and schoolwork mixed with a sprinkling of trying to do our own work and all while trying to keep sane.
This inevitably meant our normal working hours and outputs were interrupted so many of us extended our working days into the evening or night to compensate.
We then found there was not enough time to have proper rest and sleep. For single parents – I bow down to your resilience during this change.
For many of us, by schools reopening it has given us a rest. For the working parents I’d rephrase it to “A change is good. But we need a rest”.
Progressive Employers and Employees
The changes we have experienced have enabled many progressive employers to design and implement huge changes to the working lives of their employees.
One emergency services client managed to roll out remote working to over 700 employees in a 14 day timeframe. Prior to the disruption, the conversation as to how that could occur had gone on for some time. For them, disruption led to swift change and helped them take a giant leap forwards. I can’t see them reverting back to the former arrangements anytime soon as the employees have experienced a more flexible approach to work.
Other clients have taken this opportunity to design their next changes in a really considered and thoughtful way – progressing diversity and inclusion initiatives, employee recognition and talent systems. The disruption has given them the time to plan their ‘changes and get ready for the rest’.
At mwah. we are renowned for our virtual reality offering – really being able to take a person on a journey and feel the emotion of exclusion and harassment. This of course is in a face to face environment using a virtual reality mask.
We had a some planned workshops using the virtual reality kit – suddenly this changed. We realised no one would be willing to don a mask to get that experience so we very quickly got good at being able to personalise the experience without the use of the kit.
In addition, it gave us some time to think outside of the box and come up with some really innovative ideas as to where we could go next. I won’t spoil it for our members but suffice to say ‘a change is good, keep an eye out for the rest’.
In each of these experiences and observations, a change is as good as a rest. There’s a mindset to that, and the mwah. model for change is a great way to get mindset right. We’ve seen the complex, multi-stepped models and we give you a simpler way forward. It’s about getting the mindset oriented to possibility and growth, not to resistance or loss.
And it goes:
- Build receptivity to the change
- Support people
- Manage the change
This model, instructions on how to use it, change planning and action tools are available to our subscribers.
But I will say the whole thing has validated the model for me yet again!
Whether you’ve experienced a positive change, or one which you recall with negativity, change is constant – so explore it.
Build receptivity with the people around you to it, way before you start to ‘manage it’. Support them. Yes work through or ‘manage’ it too. Learn from it.
And don’t forget to make some time to rest.