There’s no denying that a week away from the workplace is good for your wellbeing. Time to relax as the sun warms your tense shoulders, embark on a bit of self-reflection and maybe even take a minute to acknowledge your poor colleagues slaving away in the concrete jungle whilst you are sipping on your second (...maybe third, who's counting?!) chilled glass of Lugana, listening to the calming sound of the waves lapping onto the shore. You look across at the person on the sunbed next to you, relieved to have made it through the stress of airports, taxis, and check-ins to this blissful slice of paradise, and breathe a long sigh of relief that everything is going ok, however it’s not your partner relaxing on the beach with you, it’s your boss.
On the 7th of March this year, the day before International Women’s Day, a news release was sent out by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, analysing women’s roles in the modern-day workplace. It’s in 2019. This surely would be the year where the stats would show the world was starting to take equality seriously, that tokenism was a thing of the past and the female path to success for women was looking more like a freshly tarmacked highway with us driving our bright red Ferrari straight down the fast lane. I, like many of my peers, was getting impatient with the prolonged anticipation of the world moving to a more balanced place, the suspense in the air was palpable, goodbye system justification, and hello to a new age of woke!
But alas, it was not to be.
Given the amount of ‘stronger together’, ‘who run the world’ and ‘the future is female’ memes on Instagram, you would be fooled into thinking that we have come along way since ‘pussy-grabbing gate’, yet this report made for rather bleak reading. The survey showed that out of the 9.4 million managerial positions in the EU, 6 million are currently held by men, that's nearly two thirds(!), and within that figure, women only account for 17% of all EU senior executives. I don’t quite know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t that, however, I’m going to stop you there, at fleek we do not boy-bash. I feel I’ve made my point, and realistically dwelling on the disappointment of the past is definitely not going to alter the gender bias of today, so instead let's look at one of the ways we can work together to ensure the 2020 stats look more like #workgoals
We are already on the right track with many top companies now looking to provide female mentoring schemes and pairing up enthusiastic newbies, with accomplished executives, however when the path to success is narrow, with only a few jobs at the top and is pretty male-dominated, it can be easy for even the most well-meaning work initiative to turn sour, as the threat of favouritism, turns education and inclusion, into envy and competition.
So how do we change this culture? And how did it get to be this way?
In many businesses, the journey to the top is seen as a competition as opposed to a collaboration, but there is a reason for this. There is something called negativity bias, which an evolutionary imprint used to suss out predators early on. It was an essential instinct when as cavemen, it was survival of the fittest, however, the world has changed a lot since then and more recent studies have started to show that rather than have a positive effect on our circumstances, having a habitual negative outlook on the world can make you ill. This can also account for why, when you walk into the office, it's so easy to view your hardball line manager as the latest ‘work witch’, without even considering the possibility of her becoming your new ‘work wife’.
Now the good news is, it is possible to override these negative thoughts, to get past your initial assumption that the worst is going to happen. It all starts with training your brain to look at situations rationally, focusing on the good stuff and promoting the good energy around you, but where do you go from there? How do you turn the actions of ‘I’ into the actions of ‘we’ and really, where does slow-living come into any of this?
In any relationship, it’s commonly acknowledged that the key to success lies with mutual trust, accountability, and vulnerability, however in many working relationships these are instead replaced by scepticism, blame and putting a mental shield up. Initially scary to embrace the former qualities, I know that this style of working is, at least for me, far more productive and progressive in the long term. Many companies also tried to tap into this theory through ‘corporate team building days’, which rather than generating excitement, usually has employees running for the hills. This quickly become overused and ineffective strategy with many employers realising that it takes more than a few hours, (spent trying to build a hot air balloon with the leftover contents of Blue Peter’s creative corner, before sticking a raw egg in the ‘basket’ and propelling it off the side of the local church choir to see if it can actually fly *true story*), to build trust between teams and employees. Corporate weekends became the next item of forced fun on the agenda, with many cases playing out like the dreaded aforementioned ‘team-building’ on repeat like groundhog day.
Something good would come of these weekends though. Trust is something that takes time, and despite the apprehension surrounding some of these crazy and whacky bonding exercises, they can show you a side to someone that you’ve never seen before. Which brings me to my next point? Why is there the need to embarrass people, or make employees feel uncomfortable, for them to reach this forced eutopia of trust when in fact you are more likely to let your guard down in a relaxed and comfortable environment?
Enter The Fleekation.
Can you imagine doing something you enjoy during your work weekend away? Learning a new skill, that you can actually* use? Men have been doing this for years in the form of the Friday games of golf, Saturday afternoons spent at a members-only club and orchestrating the Sunday BBQ, which in turn has built up a level of male trust and support outside the office as well as in.
*My aviation skills and knowledge of egg velocity have yet to be called upon outside of that one afternoon.
This is exclusive to 50% of the population and will have contributed to some of the stats at the beginning of this article. So let’s do away with disparity and start working on our 5-9 as much as we work on our 9-5.
Can you imagine having a fun weekend away with your boss, your peers, not like the aforementioned ‘corporate weekend’ but more like a ‘corporate retreat’? Where there is no pressure, no expectation. Just a group of normal humans cooking, eating, enjoying some wine, trying to learn a little of the local lingo. It doesn’t seem so bad, does it? The steps to the golden triangle of mutual trust, accountability and vulnerability, are respect, honesty, and communication. Joking with your team that your attempt at gnocchi looks like your 2-year-olds playdough, well, that’s just the first step.
Want to know more about our Corporate Fleekends? Email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Slow living is all about having a more conscious, mindful and sustainable approach to your everyday life. It’s about taking a step back and gaining perspective. It’s about re-engaging with the everyday aspects of your life and trusting your instincts. Finding your fleek is all about being empowered to make a lifestyle change that will work for you. It’s about focusing on and appreciating the world around you to not only find your happy place but also remember how you got there in the first place. It’s about having a network and utilising each other's experiences because like the #instameme said ‘together we are stronger’.
Written by Emma Bolus