Ken’s Ten Trends; The Latest on Corporate Workplaces

“We are planning spaces now for those who are in high school” – David Kamen, Chairman of CoreNet Global, in a preview of the Future Forward 2025 report

I recently returned from the confab of all things corporate real estate – the 2018 edition of the CoreNet Global Summit, which occurred in Boston. The theme, “What’s Next? Exploiting Uncertainty,” certainly summarized the feeling of many of the 3,000 plus attendees. The U.S. economy is robust, and real estate types are super busy finding sit/stand desks for all those butts. However, the fears of something bad in the future are gathering like clouds on a summer day. “Winter is coming, better prepare now,” said one CRE executive.

At the conference, I listened carefully and took copious notes. Below is my attempt to boil it all down into 10 trends:

David Kamen, Chairman of CoreNet Global

  1. Coworking becomes legit in corporate America– multiple CRE executives at major companies told me they are going to make some portion of their portfolios into a co working environment. The coworking craze is rapidly moving beyond the small, independent jobbers and into the mainstream. Over the next five years, corporate real estate professionals are set to dramatically increase their use of coworking spaces to house employees, according to a survey conducted by Cushman & Wakefield at the CoreNet Global Summit. The results so far, indicate companies utilizing co working have doubled over the past two years. When asked what percentage of a global workforce use or will use co working on a regular basis, respondents said 11% are using today, 17% in two years and nearly 25% in five years. The survey also revealed that 75% of those polled said the main benefit of utilizing coworking was the ability to ramp up or down a corporate real estate portfolio.
  2. White label coworking will come roaring out of the gates in 2019– private label offerings from landlords, service providers of all kinds and others will flood the market. The market is reacting in lockstep to what the existing competitors have created – and the profits realized. However, one of the challenges to these newcomers is the ability to offer flexibility to users. Cool coffee and free beer are part of the allure to those who occupy the spaces, but variable commitment periods are what makes CFOs smile.
  3. Lili pads and flexibility are what occupiers are jumping to – Speaking of the happy CFOs, with so much uncertainty in the economy (either up or down) leadership at some of the world’s largest users of space are seeing shorter-term commitments/management agreements and are willing to pay more to have the option to grow or go.The ideal lili pad could be a spec suite in a building, but with a short and highly flexible lease term.
  4. Work “how” not work “place”– Happiness in the workplace has to do with the ability to make choices regarding where you physically work in the office. The ability to choose to perform your work in different environments increases retention and overall satisfaction, according to surveys. As my friend Bryan Berthold, Managing Director of Workplace Strategy at Cushman & Wakefield says, “I didn’t take away your office. I gave you a building.”
  5. Want to come work here? –  I also saw in stark relief what we have all likely experienced in the current environment: labor rules the world. While some companies are locating on the beaten path in major cities, others are pivoting to lower-cost opportunities. “More arbitrage opportunities (exists) than ever before,” said David C. Smith, Vice President, Americas Head of Occupier Research for Cushman & Wakefield. “Growing educated workforce in secondary and even tertiary cities allow companies to keep their gateway offices and expand new departments in cities like Nashville, Boise, Phoenix, Charlotte, etc.” Whatever the location, there are still better and worse places to be (sub-markets and building types.) The fact of the matter is corporate America is scrambling to find someone – anyone – who can come aboard and work on the latest project the sales team just closed.

    Steve Quick, CEO of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield

  6. Engagement is the new KPI– Employees want to be inspired by work that matters. Millennial workers seem to be asking in lockstep, “What are we trying to accomplish?” Corporate real estate leaders are trying to deliver spaces that support and emphasize the mission of the work occurring in the place. Cushman & Wakefield’s Berthold says the workplace, “Should be authentic, encourage innovation (and) should be a place where long-term friendships are fostered. Paramount to the needs of this group is that work is something to experience…the richness of leading a life where one’s work is as rewarding as one’s play is not your father’s office. It is your daughter’s.”
  7. Campsites and Open Houses* define an era of corporate openness to the community. A Campsite can occur when two companies are working on a large project together. Instead of Skyping, one company will send a team to the other to embed for 90 or 120 days. Culturally, teams can work together better by being in the same place for an extended period. Open House describes a scenario where corporates are opening up their campuses to the community. A great example of the phenomena is NCR’s HQ in Atlanta, which has a classroom in its lobby. The room can be reserved by anyone in the community, including Georgia Tech professors. In an Open House, CRE executives are attempting to build community relations and also to have potential new workers see their culture.
  8. This is the golden age of PropTech(but humans will continue to be needed.) One example of the burgeoning property technology market is machine learning for a design perspective in which we move away from 2D plans to building rich data models. Also, high volume, high repetition tasks like financial analysis will be automated. The organizers of the conference programmed some fascinating sessions on AI and automation that took advantage of proximity to some of the world’s leading thinkers on the subject. In Boston, you can find a lot of very smart human beings who can talk about smart machines. I think technology will assist us in making better decisions and absolutely make us more efficient. In the short term, however, I don’t think Siri will replace a broker, end user or landlord. When it comes to large, game changing decisions, people still want to deal with people – supported by great technology.
  9. The digital natives known as Gen Z will change the workplace again. Cristina Banks, PhD, director of the UC Berkeley Center for Healthy WorkPlaces, presented her research on 400 respondents who are Gen Z. Here is a summary of who they are: Born between 1996 and 2010 (oldest just turning 23) they are 64.6 million people or 20% of the U.S. population.

Some of the traits she observed:

    • Tight benching is not what Gen Z’s want – they do want lots of sunlight and portable desks in the workplace
    • Want a sense of place and connection to natural light in this digital world
    • This group will be financially conservative – they watched their parents suffer through 2009. They are also highly motivated to be financially successful.
    • 100% wanted a human receptionist
    • Digital sophistication is valued but not at the expense of face-to-face interactions
    • They think about safety and security a lot (think school shootings)
    • Assigned seating will come back – “We want our own space and the ability to make it our own,” they said
    • Technology is assumed to be great and easy to use
    • Wellness and mobility are emerging, and they want an active work environment. “Bring your authentic self to work,” one said.
    • An egalitarian approach to office – everyone should have the same look and feel

In short, Dr. Banks said this generation “want’s it all,” their own safe, well lighted space but also the ability to be mobile at the same time.

  1. The office as a destination – the  amenity war rages on We have finally reached the point where leadership has to ask “pretty please will you come into the office?” Real estate directors are taking keen notice of the newest available and refreshed product. Developers of new office assets are striving to build or adapt “authentic” buildings that consist of “real” materials like wood and often have a historical connection, in an attempt to market to those end-user leaders. Also, we are at a level of hyper convenience and comfort today, in part to compete with the coworking providers. The amenities go well beyond a fitness center and include robust recreational areas, food and beer, concierge services, pet and child care, and curated gardens to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. In short, there is a competition to see who can make the workplace feel most like home (please keep your shoes on there, mister.)

To sum it all up, there seems to be uncertainty around the corner, but the economy is super-duper just now. Real estate leaders report that their CFOs aren’t so much worried about cutting cost as “making the right investments” for their workforce. Workers are demanding a lot these days, and companies are willing to do what it takes to keep them happy.

Would you pass the almond milk, please?

Campsites and Open House concepts were first discussed in an HBR article entitled “Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces published 9/24/2018

Bookmarks: 5 Interesting Articles That May Help You This Week

September 17th, 2018

Each week, I select a few articles that rise above the fray and hopefully help you on your journey in the CRE world. They pull from one of four “corners:” corporate real estate, technology, management science and anything positive. I welcome your comments on these articles.

Credit: iStock

How to Protect Your Cellphone (and Your Data) When You Travel

“Many travelers consider their cellphones essential when they’re on the road and rely on it for taking pictures and texting to using it to find their way around.

So what do you do if your phone gets lost, stolen or breaks when you’re abroad? How can you prevent it from happening in the first place? Brandon Bogle, a cellphone expert for Asurion, a company that provides insurance for consumer electronics, has plenty of advice on the subject and shares his tips below.” www.nytimes.com

I Made One Simple Financial Change and It Lowered My Spending: After reporting on personal finance, I used behavioral economics on myself

“A few years ago, when I was reporting a story on personal finance, I became fascinated by a concept that behavioral economists call the “pain of paying.” The phrase refers to the psychological discomfort experienced when parting with one’s money, and it varies by medium: At one extreme would be painstakingly counting out each penny at the register (a high pain of paying, because of how tactile the transaction is), and near the other would be credit cards (which, by postponing payment and offering rewards programs, ease the agony of depleting funds).” www.theatlantic.com

The New Rolodex: Your Web Of Support Is Critical To Success

“Regardless of what you call this support system – your Rolodex, personal board of directors, your network – quality mentoring relationships have powerful, positive effects on young people across personal, academic, and professional situations. According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, mentoring can create important personal growth and development, as well as social and economic opportunity.” www.forbes.com

The Open Office Concept: Science Still Can’t Decide If It’s Good For Us

“The open office concept, it seems, is still open to debate.

A study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine this month found that workers in open offices are less stressed and more active than cubicle workers, perhaps because they move around more to interact with colleagues.

At the same time, past research, like that published by Harvard researchers in July, has found that people who work in open offices are less likely than cubicle dwellers to collaborate or interact with their colleagues.

Though the studies didn’t examine the exact same factors, their outcomes seem to send mixed messages, proving—if nothing else—that science has yet to give us a clear-cut verdict on open office plans.” www.fortune.com

After 17 Years, Memories Of 9/11 Still Fresh For Atlanta’s CRE Industry

Pleased to be included in this article: “At the same time, Cushman & Wakefield Executive Director Ken Ashley was working at One Atlantic Center, one of Atlanta’s tallest skyscrapers. Ashley said he heard murmurs of a plane hitting the Twin Towers on the way up the elevator, but the details were unclear and confusing. When he got to his office, he immediately fired up his web browser to CNN.com. “And it wouldn’t load,” Ashley said. “That’s when I began to realize that there was something bigger than just your average everyday problem.”

Your success blesses others. I wish you a great a hugely impactful week!

Bookmarks: 5 Interesting Articles That May Help You This Week

July 9th, 2018

Each week, I select a few articles that rise above the fray and hopefully help you on your journey in the CRE world. They pull from one of four “corners:” corporate real estate, technology, management science and anything positive. I welcome your comments on these articles.

Credit: iStock

5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable

An old but certainly a goody! “I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.

All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you.” www.forbes.com

The Secret to Disconnecting? Bring Back the ‘Away’ Message – (WSJ Paywall)

“When you head out on vacation this summer, you will want to properly get away. No checking in with the office, no sneaking a peek at your inbox and no occasional Twitter browsing just in case Beyoncé drops another surprise album. With the help of an out-of-office email responder and a little bit of willpower, you might even pull it off.” www.wsj.com

Can Silicon Valley Disrupt How We Build?

4 Keys to Staying Healthy in Open Office Layouts

“You can have the best system in the world, but if your facility manager isn’t cleaning the screens or the filters, the air quality is definitely not going to be great,” said Lessard, noting that routine upkeep is critical, as well..” www.amny.com

Duke Long’s Updated 2018 Top 150 Commercial Real Estate People You Must Connect With On LinkedIn.

Honored to be on Duke’s list!  www.dukelong.com

Your success blesses others. I wish you a great a hugely impactful week!

Office Party? Atlanta Market 2018 Forecast

2017 was a mighty fine year for Atlanta office real estate. Macro events such as tax law changes, a roaring stock markets, very healthy corporate profits and strong employment numbers helped corporate America have a pep in its collective step, and Atlanta was no exception.

As I look deeply into my crystal ball and based on reading, and conversations with economists and market experts, I’ve begun to true up some predictions for 2018 in seven areas:

Thanks Dow Jones Industrials! You Rock!

Development
The goal in 2018 for corporate America in 2018 is employee engagement. Read another way, employers want you to want to come to the office. On the development side, this is dramatically impacting what architects are drawing and where building is occurring. Infill development will continue to thrive. Buildings will continue to strive to look “authentic,” like Hines’ T3 development which will consist of a 200,000 heavy timber frame and wood building planned at Atlantic Station. Authentic design can be achieved using the right materials or by retrofitting an older building – the organic approach to real estate.

The Emergence of the City Center
Maybe the 1950’s are coming back to life in reimagined small town America. Seven city center projects are proposed or under construction around metro Atlanta including the Braves Stadium know as the Battery, Avalon in Alpharetta, City Springs in the City of Sandy Springs,  Assembly in Doraville and others. People like working in a dense environment, but want to enjoy the cheaper housing and larger yards of the suburbs. Some have said the city center concept is the 21st century mall.

Rental Rates
Next year, rental rates on most classes will stop climbing as fast as they did in 2017 and concessions start to return in certain markets like Central Perimeter. I also believe there will be an uptick of subleases as growing companies are forced to move their operations in order to expand. There’s been an increase towards the end of 2017 and we believe there will be even more of this activity in 2018. The one exception to this forecast is newly delivered class A which is the hottest product in our city. Corporations with a pocket book will continue to drive rates in sexy new product to the highest our town has ever seen.

Office Product Types
As always, the market will continue to be a tale of the haves and the have nots. Rental rates notwithstanding, the haves will remain the most popular among tenants that can afford them and investors who pine for the latest and greatest. Take Three Alliance for example. The building experienced a rapid lease-up and has now traded for an historic price. Class B product with inefficient floorplates and lack of support amenities won’t experience near the rental rates of trophy Class A. Expect to see a trophy tower launch in an urban market with much more infill urban development/redevelopment. Finally, urban industrial product is becoming more attractive for redevelopment into creative loft office.

Tenant Demand
Last year, corporate America was catching its breath and approaching with caution because of uncertainty around administration, tax policy and the general business environment. However, with the Dow up 5,000 points in one year, which has never happened in history, the business economy is, and will remain, robust. I believe there will be continued organic growth and M&A activity in 2018. In board meetings and planning meetings, which are taking place right now, I believe businesses are planning for expansion in 2018. In 2017, many companies were a question mark, and that has turned into an exclamation point for 2018.

Capital Markets
In 2018, we anticipate cap rates will remain steady for suburban product. In the suburbs, there were misalligned expectations between sellers and buyers. Sellers forecasted continued rental rate increases, but buyers didn’t agree.  One can anticipate further cap rate compression in high rise urban and “cool” infill product – where she stops, nobody knows.

Technology
Next year will also be the year that the “internet of things” (IOT) begins to have a real impact on commercial real estate. It will rapidly improve the operating efficiency of commercial real estate, and it will be interesting to see what sort of role it will play for building owners and managers, as well as tenants. Building systems will let us know when they need service and save on labor cost. Maybe they’ll bring you coffee at 2 in the afternoon, too.

I saw a beautiful sentence in the Wall Street Journal recently: “investors have abandoned defensive positions, throwing caution to the wind.”  As you complete returning all those gifts back to Amazon, let’s hope Santa is in a good mood all year in 2018. This economy is the gift that keeps on giving.

Let’s keep this ball rolling, shall we?

Blurred Lines

Robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace. GenX wants and needs. CoWorking. What impact will self driving cars have on office buildings? Is my industrial conversion office space “authentic” and true to my company’s brand? Oh, and I want privacy on demand.

Largest number of attendees in history – over 3,000.

Learning pavilions spread thought out the convention floor with short 15-20 minute sessions. Think TED Talks for CRE.

Those are just some of the topics discussed at the annual confab of all things corporate real estate which is hosted by the trade organization CoreNet Global. The meeting was held in Seattle, Washington which is fitting given that we were collectively at the feet of the mighty Amazon. As the entire world knows, AMZN is in the market with one of the largest space needs in modern corporate real estate history known as #hq2. I was looking around for Alexa everywhere….

Real estate executives said the “lines” created by office walls and geographic boundaries are starting to come down – or become blurred lines. With the softening comes even more challenges to CRE’s (corporate real estate executives): information and security risk, highly empowered workers with big demands and the need for space to adapt very quickly. The modern workplace must be flexible as to location and then inside the physical space flexible as to different types of work.

Here are the things I heard on some of the very hottest topics:

Robots and AI

  • Robots and facility automation will continue to rapidly evolve and relieve humans of low payback activities
  • Estimates are $90,000 per year to operate a robot who can operate 24/7 and replace a human security guard.
  • We will continue to see the evolution of the building as much more than sticks and bricks. Will seen the emergence of the space as a service provider. In fact, the building itself becomes a machine – automatically changing around furniture, lighting, provide comfort and productivity of every kind and deal with weather.

    The famous Pike Market on a chilly Seattle day.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI), which is really code to support machines will become smarter and smarter and specific to corporate real estate. Think of a corporate version of Alexa or Siri.
  • High tech drives the need for high touch as people. Rise of the robots means people need to spend more time together
  • Robots in the future will be digital “sherpas” so that we don’t have to carry digital tools like laptops
  • Digital twins in 5 years that are far smarter that Siri will talk to other digital twins for meeting coordination and low level task production
  • Some wondered with all this automation, and the simultaneous happening of the gig economy how does corporate America inculcate culture and values?

Gen Z: Influencing the Real Estate Footprint

Some observations from a panel of Gen X’ers:
  • Industrial spaces converted to office is a solution, but what you are really talking about is an input into the process. Its less about the generation and more about where people are in their life’s journey. Millenials are just younger baby boomers. As people get older, there are consistencies with what they want. For example, young children are a great equalizer in terms of what people want.
  • More face to face interaction helps Gen X with knowledge transfer.

    Yes, I did catch the fish. Yes, I did wash my hands. No I didn’t eat sushi after that point.

  • What do people DO when they are at work? That tells me as a Gen Z a lot about the company?As a Gen X, culture is a lot more important to me than the physical layout.
  • Culture is driven by the people in the space, not the design of the space
  • People are most happy when they go to work (as in a place) every day if they have a friend at work.
  • What has not worked? – You can try too hard. If being hip and cool is not consistent with your corporate culture then it won’t ring true. When someone comes into our offices do they get a sense of how they work from the people and the space? If so, that is
  • Watch cutting vs. bleeding edge. Make sure your risk tolerance  is consistent with technological risk.
  • Brand is more than paint on the wall, carpet and color – its the actually embodiment of the mission. Failure: “I saw this really cool thing somewhere else, but didn’t stress test in their own organization” before we installed in our office.
  • How are you signaling to your people that (1) the work you do is important and (2) we care about you.

    Fruit at the Pike Street Market

  • We are talking less about efficiencies now and more about experience. More expensive to have brain drain than savings from densification. Leading a move discussion about efficiencies only is likely to fail. I don’t care if my company is saving a dollar on my back. I want to work someplace warm and front. Space needs to serve people through the entire arc of the day.
  • We are catering way to much to then new generation (GenZ). We (as corporate America) should be planning for people that are already there. Keep hearing that Gen Z wants what baby boomers want…pengilum will swing. Most important thing is to be in the workplace listen to senior folks on the phone. If I could sit there for 2 hours a day and listen it would be great.

Automation in Cars

  • Using fleet car services will fundamentally change the arrival and departure experience in office building. Currently, 90% of arrivals enter through a garage. The new experience feels much more like a hotel motor court.
  • Will the Roof become the new lobby with flying cars?
  • We heard that developers are starting to plan building with higher garage clear heights so they can be adaptively reused when personal cars are no longer a “thing.”

 CoWorking

  • Why do we in corporate America care if employees like coworking? War for talent – 73% of organizational leaders are concerned about the availability of skilled labor
  • Coworker is not just the struggling entrepreneur – average age is 38
  • Cushman & Wakefield client party at the Museum of Pop Culture. It’s an amazing space.

    First place is the office, second place is the home, third place is Starbucks, place 3.5 is the car in the Starbucks parking lot for conference calls, and fourth place is coworking.

  • Targets by coworking providers are no longer as much individuals – chasing corporate America
  • New term: a “Jelly” – organic group or people who glom on to each other and hang out – like in a Starbucks or other quick service restaurants.
  • Todays employees want choice, community and flexibility
  • 77% of facilities are in an urban location and 62% looking to expand and move to larger locations.
  • Several years ago, question was is this a fad? with 62% of centers looking to expand, this is not a fad. Will disrupt the industry
  • Average number of member is 75 members
  • Seeing the emergence of the “big box” retailer – A solution that is focused on targeting corporations to provide space.
  • WeWork is the largest tenant in New York City and one of the largest consumers or real estate in the world.

Privacy and Productivity

  • One of the biggest complaints in open workplaces is privacy and the ability to have quiet and private phone calls.

    Tower of Guitars at the Museum of Pop Culture

  • Young people stated the need for “real time privacy.”
  • Ripping out all private spaces and forcing collaborations totally ignores introverts. Millennials complain amongst themselves about being in a open environment.
  • Open Plan, Friend or Foe? An open plan can be really bad. So can an office. All not created equal. Like saying all automobiles are the same.
  • A new trend is “activity based” planning. Developing new ways to connect in open plan design based on what you are doing. Design is in a progression and is progressing.
  • Wellness is fundamental to productivity. A sick workforce is no workforce.

In sum, the energy is high and the feeling is optimistic. Most directors of corporate real estate have a pep in their step, but are drowning in emails and assignments to expand.

I surmise from the conference that most everyone is growing quickly and thinking about how to keep the workforce engaged, happy and healthy. Improving the quality of work-life balance and overall work experience are what sought after employees are seeking in companies – current and future.

All is well with the CRE world in 2017. The good times will continue in 2018 as well and beyond.

Whistle while you work – wherever that might be. And step right over those blurry lines!

 

8 Days Without Email

“Is email still a thing?”

That’s what a friendly and oh so innocent Millennial asked me recently. “Dude, you have no idea how much a thing it still is,” I said. “It’s the lifeblood of corporate America.” You can Tweet, Snap and Post your heart out, but until your boss retires and you take over the world, you’ll need to send her an email for most communication needs. “Bummer,” he muttered as he ambled off.

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first email as a test in his Cambridge, Mass lab. My, how things have changed in the 46 years since. According to a Radicati Group study, executives can expect an average of 126 messages sent and received per business user per day by the end of 2019, with a total of over 2.9 billion people on planet earth using the email tool to communicate and set meetings.

I conducted an informal poll over lunch the past 6 months or so and found that most executives report receiving over 200 messages per day. So if we ditch the weekends, which no one does, then my friends are getting 50,000 messages a year over 50 working weeks. If it takes us an average of 1 minute per message, then we are spending 833 hours a year, or almost 40% of our working hours managing this beast.

It’s getting a little ridiculous out there. Despite barrels of digital ink being spilled on how to manage, keep up with and prune email, the stuff just keeps growing like electronic Kudzu.

Just Make It Stop!

A fishing village in the Cinque Terre portion of the Italy coast. The village is 1,000 years old. A few years before email was invented….

So, I did make it stop, for a brief respite anyway.

You see, Karen and I planned a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Italy, so I began to dream about unplugging from email. The last time I stopped the digital river of information was in 2012 when I took a backpacking trip in New Mexico with my son. I wrote about it in one of my most popular blogs called West Bound and Down | 12 Days without an iPhone. Given the clicks, I wasn’t the only person thinking about this issue.

But here’s the thing: if you know you are coming back to a huge backlog of messages, how do you relax? And maybe you will be tempted to peek early in the morning. I’ve heard stories of people getting up in the middle of the night on vacation or slipping off to the bathroom to have an illicit session of checking email. Ugh.

The Duomo in Florence taken from top of the bell tower

So I made a tough call. I was not going to ever read a single email sent to me while I was traveling on my vacation. All of them were going to hit the trash can with a punch of a few keys in a mass delete action. Bam!

I’m Really Out of the Office And On Vacation. For Real.

I penned my out of office with a guilty grin. Here it is:

“Thanks for your email. I am currently out of the country on vacation. Karen and I are in Italy celebrating 25 years of marriage, 4 kids and 1 very lazy dog. The kids and the dog are at home. We wish them luck.

I return to the office and real life on <date>. My plan is to mass delete all emails while I’m away, so kindly email me again after my return and I will return your message with a big smile on my face. I appreciate your  understanding and patience during this much needed downtime. So does Karen.

Pisa needed construction management!

If you need help now, then contact my teammate <name> who can get you taken care of.”

That’s it. And you know what, it worked!

Hey Karen, watch out for the wave behind you!

We spent 8 glorious days refreshing our relationship and exploring the big world out there. I got around 1,800 messages during my time away and I gleefully hit delete. There were about 4 issues that needed my immediate attention when I got back, but I missed all the emails on all the meetings, issues and problems that I couldn’t attend or attend to.

I clearly remember the relief of allowing myself to be present on our vacation AND not having to worry about digging out when I returned.

Vinyards near the ancient village of San Gimignano

Do I have a great team to back stop me and allow for this break to occur? Absolutely! Do I have understanding and cool clients? You bet! Am I so important that I need to be continuously connected and available at all times? Nope, not at all.

And unless you are in charge of national security for the United States or some other ridiculously high stress gig, you aren’t either. Heck, even firefighters and cops have days off from emergencies.

I Dare You

Today I attended the  funeral of a good friend, Scott Selig. Scott passed away at age 47 from an aggressive form of cancer. The loss of my friend has given me needed perspective and even more resolve on the email issue. As Scott himself said in a moving speech before he died, “put down the phone and enjoy life”.

I dare you to put up appropriate boundaries around your personal time.

Another view of the Cinque Terre. This village was founded by pirates 997 years ago. Ahoy matey!

I dare you to talk to your clients, colleagues and friends and explain that you need downtime too.

I dare you to confront your own addiction to this world of hyper responsiveness and over communication in which we live.

Be bold on this issue and your spouse, your family and ultimately your circle of friends and business colleagues will thank you. They will notice your new found focus and crisp response to issues because you have allowed yourself permission to rest.

Ray Tomlinson passed away a few years ago, but if he were still with us today, I bet you he’d give 2 thumbs up to email breaks. As Steven Covey said, even the best lumberjack has to sharpen his saw to be effective.

Time away is what intelligent executives use to freshen up, relax and reflect. In the times when you are getting away, email is toxic and will defeat the purpose. Be courageous and self confident in stopping the digital intrusion.

Do it. You won’t regret the digital break, I promise.