Bringing your whole self to work, including your bladder

Apologies to the faint of heart, but we need to have a little potty talk.  Let me explain … I have been talking with a variety of clients these past weeks to get a feel for what it’s like to walk in their shoes at their workplace. These conversations help me customize what I will speak about at their event.

Too many times I have heard that people don’t have time to use the restroom during the day, because they are so back-to-back with meetings. I have heard far too many clients joke about getting to the point of considering wearing Depends, but by the look in their eyes, I’m not entirely sure they are kidding. You would think that remote working would have eased this conundrum, but it really hasn’t. Whether you are at an office or glued to your computer at home, if meetings run back-to-back-to-back, there still is no time or space for even a few minutes reprieve.

May I just say right here that this is Wrong! How is it that we expect ourselves and each other to do our best work if we aren’t even letting our bodies function properly? We are more than eyes, ears, fingers, and mouths. To bring our whole selves to work is to bring our bodies with us. Maybe others have figured this out better than me, but there comes a point where I can no longer concentrate if I’m not able tend to basic bodily functions.

This is a sign of work culture gone awry. It’s the unfortunate assumption that quantity — of minutes in this case — matters more than quality of what happens during those minutes. I know, we all have way too much on our plates. But filling every last minute of our work day doesn’t solve this problem.

There are many culprits, but meetings surely top the list. So, in support of bladders everywhere, may I submit some admittedly very challenging, but important suggestions to address this “urgent” problem:

1.  Let’s get right into it, if meetings are scheduled one after the other on the hour, or the half hour or whatever, change them so they have 5-10 minute breaks between them.

Yes, I know, this is super hard!  Stick with me here, to accomplish this…

2.  Assign a time keeper. Someone who is not in charge of running the meeting. Rotate this job throughout the team. Empower the time keeper to interrupt if necessary so that topics can be wrapped up, tasks can be assigned in order to continue what didn’t get covered, and move on.

3.  Really assess if the meeting is necessary and who needs to attend based on the agenda and objectives of that particular meeting. Others can get filled in with a summary afterward.

4.  Tighten the topics so that people are not sitting around waiting for the portion of the meeting that applies to them. Rather, plan more –and shorter—meetings that have the people present who truly need to be there. Then, summarize for those who need to know, but didn’t need to be in on the meeting itself.

5.  Plan blocks of time when there are no meetings. For anyone. So people can work on the stuff they agreed to do during the meetings. And so there is at least some uninterrupted time. And people can pee.

6.  Keep the purpose and mission of the organization prevalent and a regular part of the conversations. It’s why you—or someone—went to all that trouble to create it. And it is intended as a guiding principle for the work that you all share. And hopefully it is inspiring, helping all of you stay focused on the “why” behind what you are doing.

7.  Make meetings fun and a little personal. Really. Especially if you are working on a hybrid or remote team. Google any variation on ‘how to keep a remote team engaged,’ and each link will reference the importance of social interaction, casual conversation, personal stories.  Mix it up. Trade off who shares something or chooses a song or shares a photo.

This is not easy. I know. But going all day without, well, going isn’t easy either, nor is it healthy. Let these suggestions linger in your mind, inspiring and nudging you and your team. They paint a picture of Wild meetings, the ones that take your whole self into account.  The ones that dare to break the mold of meetings. The ones that know how to work Wilder, not longer. You can do this. Your team is Depending on you (sorry).