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Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation


Please Wear Trousers

5 April 2020

Suddenly many of us have become our own TV studio. We have lights, a camera, a microphone and the ability to mess it all up really quickly.

What we lack is a director, to make sure our ‘set’ is appropriate and a wardrobe department to make sure our clothes are in keeping with our character. We also lack a lighting director, to ensure we are not in shadow.

We also lack a green room. This is a comfy space where we can get our thoughts in order, touch up our make up and rehearse our lines.

Instead we are happily working away at our desk and then, with one click, we go live!

We are on screen and broadcasting to the world, without so much as a moment to smooth our hair.

I’ve noticed that colleagues who always wear a shirt and collar to work find themselves at ease online wearing any old t-shirt.

Dress-down Friday has become come-as-you-are any day!

It’s important to recognise we are allowing people into our homes and adjust to this accordingly.

When we are on camera, what can people see behind us?

Have we forgotten that the mic is live and people can hear us shouting at the kids to be quiet?

Are we deep in a business conversation, only to be thrown by small people popping into our workspace to show mummy a picture?

Or we’ve forgotten that the washing machine is due to begin a noisy spin cycle any second now? (Ditto a noisy husband with a power drill).

Working online can give us flexibility and connect us amicably with colleagues.

And we can inadvertently over-share our home life.

Here’s a story…

I had a situation where a colleague was online from a hot country. They had clearly skipped indoors to make our Skype call, fresh from their sunlounger. Half way through our meeting their dog nosed the door open and, without thinking, the colleague stood up and shooed the dog out.

No trousers.

Just swim wear.


I said nothing.

I did wonder though what might have been the outcome if the call had been a job interview, or a tough business negotiation.

We are all facing business anxiety and yet we can take a moment to think about our online TV studio.

Do we need to reposition a desk lamp?

Would it help to hang a sign on the door, to ensure it stays closed?

Are there any ethical considerations we need to be mindful of? (Perhaps it’s not appropriate to make certain calls perched on our bed?)

I’m hopeful that online working will continue to be used once we are through the current lockdown situation. It does give people flexibility and saves wasteful journeys.

I’m also hopeful that we can all have productive online meetings and that we remember to wear trousers at all times!

Keep well.

Next week: My Favourite Joke

A Brilliant Model For Home Working

29 March 2020

It’s interesting that in all the talk of working at home people can become too focussed on one of these words.


And the ‘home’ part can easily be neglected. Home working is a noble thing and although we can be productive at home it’s important to remember that life falls into many parts.

We need to attend to all of them, otherwise the work can overwhelm us and we can muddy the boundaries between where home and work begin and end.

A favourite model of mine, that helps me to be more aware of how I structure time, is called, rather niftily …Time Structuring.

The credit goes to Eric Berne, the founding father of Transactional Analysis. I tip my hat to him.

He believed that humans need structure in their lives and were hungry for it.

I think he was right. Children tend to feel safer when they have structure and know the rules and boundaries. Without any structure we have chaos and that can feel freeing at first and then it becomes an energy sapping place to be.

Berne’s model of Time Structuring suggests we move between the following areas during our day. They are:

1. Withdrawal. This is when we are on our own, or maybe track out of a meeting by checking our smartphone. Time alone is okay, as long as we don’t slump into depression. I’m sure we all need quiet time sometimes.

2. Ritual. We engage with others in very safe ways. Hello…how are you? I’m fine. How are you? …And so on. Little smiles and friendly greetings brighten our day.

3. Pastiming. We have an easy conversation about general subjects. Travel, the weather, last night’s television. These conversations flow and make us smile and are a good break from work. We need them in our lives.

4. Activity. This can be work or play. Productive time online, or having fun with a leisure activity. In a ‘normal’ working day this can be a solid six hours of employment (allowing for two further hours of pastiming and ritual to make life more pleasant).

5. Games. This could be a whole series of blogs, but to keep things simple here, let’s define games as sneaky mind reading failures. Instead of asking for a hug, we sit on the sofa and ‘assume’ our partner knows what we want. When they don’t provide it we get cross with them – we still get some attention, but in a grumpy way.

5. Intimacy. When we have clear, open two-way honesty we have intimacy. We can say what we like and know the other party will take it in good spirit. We feel closeness with them and give them the same regard. A lovely place to be!

Now the thing is, when we get stressed or tired we may play more games. If there’s too much work over too many days our spirits can sink low. We need to pay attention to how much pastiming we have in our day and how much our work is broken up with healthy contact and leisure time.

Perhaps working at home needs to be re-labelled as ‘being human at home.’

We need to structure our time to ensure we attend to all parts of Time Structuring, and keep games to a minimum.

I find this model very useful. It helps me to be mindful of how I’m spending my time. I work online. And I organise friendly hellos online too. I work and I pastime. I’m productive and chatty.

If you’re an employer, manager, or team leader then have a think about how you can engage colleagues in more pastiming.

All meetings do not have to be work focussed. A great tip is to allow people to ‘check in’ about how they are doing and be comforted by the contact time.

Good work flows from happy people. Everyone needs contact in different ways and we can all be responsible for getting our needs met and supporting others to meet theirs.

Have fun having non-work meetings!

Take care. Keep well.

Next week: Please Wear Trousers!


Click cover to view details on Amazon


Riding the Rocket

How to manage your Modern Career

Published 2013 Marshall Cavendish



Bouncing Back

How to get going again after a career setback

Published 2012 Marshall Cavendish



How to Keep Your Job

Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in

Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish



Job Hunting 3.0

Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age

Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish



Leave the Bastards Behind

An insider's guide to working for yourself

Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish



My Boss is a Bastard

Surviving turmoil at work

Published 2006 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish


© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact