The world of work has changed. Whether you are an employee or business leader, we have all had to find ways to adapt (and thrive) over the last year, not least in how we work.
As we navigate this “new normal,” one thing is clear: Employee mental health is still one of the most important issues facing workplaces today. Mental health and wellbeing no longer occupy the private space they once did, as the pressure brought on by COVID-19 has caused an increase in stress, anxiety, and mental illnesses.
Now more than ever, leaders have an opportunity— and a responsibility—to lead with mental health in mind.
Over the last year, Explorance has offered certain resources and put into place practices to ensure our Explorers (Explorance employees) and their families have the support needed during the pandemic.
We also dedicated the last week of February to a Wellbeing Check-in for all Explorers across the globe. The week consisted of events aimed at supporting Explorers’ wellness, including Laughter Yoga with Master Liliana De Leo; Health Lunch and Learn with Holistic Nutritionist Cindy Wong; Yes, it is possible to free yourself from the stress of COVID-19 with Stress expert Sonia Lupien, Ph.D., and many more.
To kick off Wellbeing Check-In week, our Executive team spoke candidly about how they are coping, and lessons learned during the pandemic. Below is what they each had to say.
What’s something you discovered about yourself during this pandemic, and how have you dealt with it?
Jonathan Lapierre, CTO: I’ve discovered that I’m a people person, more than I thought I was. I need that physical presence. The first month was difficult; I’m a person of habit, and then everything changed. I decided early on to keep doing exactly what I was doing when I was at the office. For example, I drive to get my morning coffee (it’s 10 minutes instead of a 50-minute drive). I used to think a lot in the car, and that time of reflection was missing. So, the coffee break gives me the 10 minutes I need for myself each day.
I also take morning, afternoon, and night walks with my 2 dogs. For that missing physical presence, I have lunch with my wife and movie nights with kids – I’m trying to find what’s missing and fill it with other meaningful experiences.
Creativity might be more difficult now since we’re not all in one room brainstorming. Any ideas on how to foster creativity while we’re all at home?
Marc Lamy, COO: I’m trying to mimic office life and habits as much as I can. Instead of booking meetings – which are at a minimum 30 minutes long now – I am sending a quick Slack message to see if that person is busy.
Was there a moment during the last year when you realized something differently?
Kevin Thornton, CRO: A good friend passed away last week, and it put everything into perspective for me. Everyone is going through something difficult right now and being kind to one another is really important.
How’s it going at home?
Samer Saab, CEO: My kids are extremely high energy, but I think my wife and I found a system that works for us like everyone else. For example, I have a sign on my door, and if the kids see it, it means I am in a meeting that they cannot interrupt.
This past year was not the easiest time – I had to be there for everyone: my wife, kids, colleagues in the US, family and friends in Beirut during the explosion. However, in ten years, I know I’ll look back at this and say “Thank God. I was able to hug my kids more than before.”
How did you manage to take care of mental and physical health?
Samer Saab, CEO: Luckily, I’m doing okay mentally, but I have had to be there for others as they struggle. Physically, I’m doing a 40-minute workout six days a week.
Any “aha” moments?
Shadi Khader, VP, Cloud Ops and Security: I enjoy being around people; It helps me through my day, and I’m able to help others through their day. On the flip side, I found some peace and solitude in being alone without distractions. The office can interrupt your focus.
One of the reflection points is how fortunate my family and I are during this difficult time. Also – I get to spend more time with my kids. Before COVID-19, it was always a rush to get ready each morning; now, I’m a lot more relaxed.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
Justin Taylor, Global Alliances and Solutions: I’ve learned to embrace the difference. My family and I are taking advantage of certain things we couldn’t otherwise. For example, my daughter loves photography, so we made a day trip to a sunflower field and let her take photos as a birthday experience. I haven’t seen my parents in person for well over a year now, but we try to do Zoom meetings, Facebook, and an app called Duo for Android (great video calling).
We’re trying to do less of making birthdays a big thing. Instead, we do smaller ongoing things and are focusing on the now.
During COVID-19, did you find yourself any hobbies, or discover a talent?
Yeona Jang, Chief Community Engagement Officer: I like to eat, but I don’t like to cook. During the pandemic, I tried my hand at cooking, and it confirmed that I’m not good at it. So, I found places to order my food, including an excellent dumpling place here in Montreal. At the same time, I am contributing to the local economy.
I’ve also learned the importance and benefits of meditation.
What are your hopes for the coming weeks and months?
Samer Saab, CEO: I’m a big believer that love should be stronger than fear, but it’s often the opposite. I’m full of hope for what’s next. Don’t be scared, but don’t forget where we are and become complacent. Whatever happens next, we should remember the lessons from this past year. I cherished every moment with my kids, so I plan to travel less in the future.
I am inviting all Explorers to start accepting this reality; all the uncertainties and tough decisions that we’ve gone through can be translated into something great. Think positive!
COVID-19•Culture of free will•Explorance culture•