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Building a culture of presence at work

Nicholas Janni building culture of presence

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, it is becoming increasingly challenging to maintain a culture of presence at work. With constant distractions, multitasking, and the pressure to be always available, employees often find it difficult to fully engage and be present in their work. However, fostering a culture of presence at work can significantly enhance productivity, collaboration, and overall well-being within a workplace. In this article, I will explore the importance of building a culture of presence at work and provide practical tips for cultivating it. 

Nicholas Janni shares his insights with PA Life. He is the co-founder of Matrix Leadership Development and the author of Leader as Healer: A New Paradigm for 21st-century Leadership which recently won at the Business Book Awards 2023.

Presence at work refers to being fully engaged and focused on the task at hand, both mentally and physically. It involves being aware of one’s surroundings, actively listening to others, and giving undivided attention to the present moment. When employees are fully present, they can maximize their productivity, make better decisions, and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.

One key aspect of building a culture of presence is creating an environment that supports and encourages it. Leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone and modelling the behaviour they want to see in their teams. By demonstrating presence themselves, leaders can inspire their employees to do the same. This can be achieved by actively participating in meetings, listening attentively, and being fully engaged during conversations. Leaders should also provide clear expectations and guidelines for maintaining focus and avoiding distractions.

Another important factor in cultivating a culture of presence is fostering open communication and collaboration. Encouraging employees to express their ideas, share their concerns, and actively participate in discussions creates an environment where everyone feels valued and heard. This helps to build trust and engagement, leading to increased presence at work. Managers can facilitate this by creating opportunities for team members to collaborate, such as brainstorming sessions or cross-functional projects.

Embracing emotions is part of having a culture of presence at work

Furthermore a culture must be created that accepts and embraces all our emotions, and understands that emotions do not need to be fixed or changed. They simply need to be received and acknowledged. There can be very few people currently who are not experiencing varying degrees of anxiety, ranging from concerns about job and financial security to fears about the growing global conflicts, climate change, millions of migrants roaming the planet and more. Leaders need to show up as human beings, modelling that it is totally normal to feel anxiety, or sometimes be sad. The naming and sharing of our emotions brings ease and more connectedness, leading to higher energy levels. Conversely, having to hide or block our emotions is always draining.

In addition, setting boundaries and managing distractions are essential in maintaining a culture of presence. Employees should be encouraged to establish healthy work-life boundaries, ensuring they have time to recharge and be fully present when they are at work. This can be achieved by promoting regular breaks, encouraging employees to disconnect from work during non-working hours, and discouraging after-hours emails or messages.

Technology, while often a source of distraction, can also be leveraged to support presence at work. For example, implementing tools and apps that help manage time, prioritize tasks, and minimize interruptions can be highly beneficial. Additionally, creating a designated space for focused work, free from distractions, can help employees stay present and engaged.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of presence requires recognizing and appreciating the efforts of employees. Regularly acknowledging and celebrating achievements, whether big or small, boosts morale and motivates individuals to remain present and engaged. This can be done through public recognition, rewards, or simply expressing gratitude for a job well done.

To truly build a culture of presence, organizations must also prioritize employee well-being. Promoting work-life balance, offering wellness programs, and encouraging self-care practices can significantly enhance an employee’s ability to be fully present. When individuals feel supported and cared for, they are more likely to bring their whole selves to work and be actively engaged in their tasks.

It’s an ongoing process

Lastly, it is important to remember that building a culture of presence is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and reinforcement. Regularly assessing the effectiveness of strategies implemented, seeking feedback from employees, and making necessary adjustments will help ensure that the culture of presence remains strong.

In conclusion, building a culture of presence at work is crucial for fostering productivity, collaboration, and overall well-being. By creating an environment that supports presence, fostering open communication, setting boundaries, managing distractions, leveraging technology, recognizing achievements, prioritizing employee well-being, and continuously reinforcing these practices, organizations can cultivate a culture where employees are fully engaged and present. This, in turn, leads to increased job satisfaction, improved performance, and a stronger sense of connection within the workplace.

Leader as healer creating workplace culture of presence

Professional peer networks are a great place to discuss workplace relationship issues in a safe environment. PA Life Club is a free to join member network for PAs, EAs, VAs and other business support professions.