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  • Writer's picturePlus Rasmussen

“Designing Your (Work) Life” in a Covid-19 World



Herb Riband, InnAxx Consulting (Lausanne, Switzerland), Founder and Principal; Certified Designing Your Life Your Life Coach (1)

Dorle Feldmeier, +RASMUSSEN (Munich/Bremen, Germany), Principal Designing Your Life; Certified DYL Facilitator (2)


We all know that today’s work (and life) reality is dramatically different from what it was at the beginning of 2020. Looking ahead to 2021, this seismic shift has important implications for both employers and employees.


More people are working from home than ever before, but most homes have not been designed for work. Even when it is possible for some employees to work and meet in a traditional office setting, they are finding that things have changed. Most large meetings in 2020 have been cancelled, and business travel has been dramatically curtailed. It remains an open question if/when/how these will resume in 2021. Employees are contemplating new ways of working, business performance concerns, and possible cost-cutting measures, organizational restructurings and (who knows) layoffs. As a result, employees at all levels are experiencing greater degrees of stress as they stare into a VUCA world – one filed with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.(3)


Not surprisingly, some employees are reporting feeling:

- Stressed, fatigued, isolated and demotivated, as work and life boundaries have become blurred;

- Overwhelmed with having to manage too many things from home - work, home schooling, caregiving for children and the elderly, etc.; and

- Increasingly challenged with their own health problems and financial concerns.


Leaders and managers are facing these same challenges, as well as additional concerns of their own:

- Losing the trust of, and effective management control over, their teams;

- Feeling inadequately equipped with the necessary skills and tools to lead from a distance; and

- Potential drops in organizational performance due to employees’ lack of connectivity and collaboration, low energy and ill health.


Forward-looking employers are recognizing these challenges and moving to address them proactively by means of a series of measures and initiatives, that are designed to:

- Help employees overcome the fatigue and isolation of “working from home,” by identifying new ways of staying connected, maintaining health and having fun;

- Increase employee resilience, well-being and self-agency, by reframing dysfunctional beliefs and enabling a solutions-oriented mindset;

- Maintain connectivity between employees and among teams, with a spirit of renewed collaboration; and

- Drive a continuous evolution towards a healthy high performance culture.


Fortunately - there are tools and programs that can help employers and employees achieve these objectives.


Earlier this year Bill Burnett and Dave Evans published their latest book, Designing Your Work Life – How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work. (4) This new book is a sequel to their #1 New York Times2016 best seller entitled Designing Your Life – How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. These inspirational, timely books outline a series of Stanford design thinking-inspired tools and exercises that can help employees to:


- Recognize and challenge dysfunctional beliefs;

- Increase coherence between work and life views;

- Address balance (work-life-love-health) and energy needs; - Reframe problems by defining “I’m stuck” areas and identifying strategies for getting “unstuck”;

- Practice ideation and prototyping; Envision different potential futures and opportunities for growth at work; and

- Improve decision-making.


As certified Designing Your Life practitioners, we are pleased to be able to apply these tools with clients to co-create programs that have a positive impact on participants’ perception of the future. Participants experience less career anxiety, more hope for the future and a stronger sense of self-agency.


At +RASMUSSEN we combine the Designing Your Life experience with our own expertise and focus on the transformation of leadership, teams and individuals. We have developed and implemented with multiple clients a series of programs to build and support high-performance teams. These programs are designed to:


- Build trust and team resilience as a pre-requisite for high performance;

- Help individuals become trusted high performance leaders;

- Develop essential mindsets and tools to increase high performance in real-world situations, including remote working;

- Embed personal and team performance activation strategies; and - Enable leaders to become real transformational leaders.


It goes without saying that 2020 has brought massive challenges to employers and employees … and 2021 will be no different. All of us need to embrace new and different ways of working. Fortunately there are tools and programs to help employers and employees design their (work) lives to ensure greater balance, coherence, engagement, collaboration and motivation.


Let’s embrace 2021 as a unique opportunity to spring forward towards a more productive, collaborative and healthy future.


Herb Riband, Dorle Feldmeier December 2020


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