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I’m excited to welcome Jan Keck to today’s show. Jan is an Experience Designer, Facilitator, Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Video Creator, Entrepreneur and Dad of a 3-year old. He has been running public events and online experiences that build trust, empower people to share vulnerable stories and turn strangers into friends.
Jan’s mission is to help people feel less alone, so by creating experiences, workshops and programs he is fueling the movement for deeper human connection.
His “Connection Cards” have been used on every continent around the globe and helped turn over 70,000 shallow conversations into deep connections.
In the past few years, he ran over 30 workshops and trainings with over 700 trainers, facilitators, educators, team leaders learning the skills to create engaging, purposeful, inclusive and connecting experiences on Zoom. I have participated in several of Jan’s programs in recent years and they have helped me become a better Zoom meeting facilitator, as well as feel more comfortable creating meaningful engagements with meeting participants.
Recently, Jan relocated from Canada to Germany to be closer to family and is continuing to build a community of trainers, facilitators and creators that create MAGICAL HUMAN MOMENTS online.
His work has been featured on TEDx, CBC News, Breakfast TV, Cityline and HuffPost.
On today’s show we talk about how to create more connection in the workplace, especially for those who are working remotely or in a hybrid workplace.
Learn more about Jan’s work on his website which is www.jankeck.com, or on social media.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrjankeck
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrjankeck
- YouTube: https://youtube.com/c/mrjankeck
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jankeck
Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you usually find your podcasts.
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Show Transcript (via AI – please excuse any errors):
Well, welcome to the show, Jan. It’s so good to see you. So I have a very special guest today. His name is Jan Keck and he’s an experienced designer, a facilitator, a trainer, a TEDx speaker, video creator, entrepreneur, and dad to a three year old. So and so much more. So, Jan, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here today.
Thank you so much for having me. You now reminded me that I need to update that bio because my son just turned four three days, four days ago.
Monica Bourgeau (00:37):
Oh, wow. <Laugh>. So just barely four, but that counts.
Jan Keck (00:42):
Monica Bourgeau (00:45):
Well, maybe we could just start by you telling us a little bit about your story and your background, and I know, I know you’re living in Germany at the moment, so maybe you can tell us a little bit about that as well.
Jan Keck (00:57):
Sure. So I am in Germany right now. I’m actually sitting in my parents’ apartment. But this is also my home office kind of away from home. I now live with my wife and my son five minutes away from here. But I spent the last 14 years living in Canada. So my life is kind of moving. There’s been big changes happening in the last little bit and I’m still struggling a bit with the whole idea of moving back home versus what I like to say. I’m moving forward to like a new place cuz so many things have changed here. And sometimes I think for anybody that has moved away to a different place, they can maybe relate when you move away and then you move back, it sometimes feels like you’ve failed and you’re moving back because it didn’t work out. And I think for us, the decision to move literally closer to family, like really close to my parents is because we have a little kid that you might even hear in the background running up and down the hallway.
Jan Keck (02:05):
And the pandemic kind of made that all possible because my wife sold her Columbian street food restaurant and my work has moved from in person to all virtual. And maybe that’s a good time to talk a bit about what I actually do for work. But when somebody asks me, what do you do? I usually like to tell them just I help people feel less alone because I do a lot of different things. The one thing they all have in common is helping people connect in a more meaningful way. So by the end they feel a bigger sense of belonging if that is at work, if that is at a networking event, if that is just because they arrive to a new city and they don’t know anyone or maybe even at a dinner party. So yeah, I’m wondering should I, like how far back should I go with my story?
Monica Bourgeau (02:57):
I think that’s a great Starting point. And I might just mention too that you and I met a number of years ago at the World Domination Summit here in Portland when you were talking about your Ask Deep Questions cards and facilitating a lot of meetups and groups for people to connect and get to know each other better.
Jan Keck (03:32):
<Laugh> Yes, World Domination Summit and Ask Deep Questions. I think both of those things have a lot in common because when I first attended the conference, I didn’t know anyone who was going there. I just heard about it from other friends who basically said, you have to go there to experience it. But what I learned is that when you get people in the same room or in the same place who, who share similar values, then you’re gonna have a much easier time connecting with them. And I’m sure you’ve experienced that too. There almost every single person, you don’t do a lot of small talk. You kind of go to the deeper meaningful things much quicker. And I’ve realized that that’s actually the thing that has been missing in my life. Like the first year that I attended the World Domination Summit, I also attended another weekend retreat near Toronto that I now say I have made 30 new friends in 48 hours.
Jan Keck (04:33):
Wow. Because at that point I lived in Toronto for eight years, or six years, a long time. And I did go to lots of networking events and social events and I made a lot of connections and was very proud when I got to like the 500 connections on LinkedIn where it just does 500 plus. Yeah. And like, yes, I’ve made it, I’ve built my network. Yet I did not have a lot of like really close friends. And it wasn’t until that weekend retreat where I realized, oh my God, these conversations I’m having with people, like where we share like really personal things and we share what we’re working on and our goals and our challenges in relationships and in business and in life, that I needed to find more ways to have experiences like that. And for me that was not only attending these experiences, but figuring out how can I create that for myself and for others as well.
Monica Bourgeau (05:36):
I love that so much. And that kind of just mindset is part of why I wanted to have you on the show today. Because one of the challenges that a lot of employers are facing right now are working with employees who are either remote or they’re hybrid. And just in general, I think that there’s a real struggle to find connection in the workplace. You probably heard about the term quiet quitting that’s become popular on TikTok and employees are disengaged and just feeling really disconnected at work. So what are your thoughts on what might be happening there and how could we start to bring some of these concepts into the workplace to create a more meaningful connection?
Jan Keck (06:27):
Yes. I actually was talking about the loneliness epidemic before the C pandemic started happening, knowing that there’s a lot of people who don’t feel like they have anyone to talk to. I think there was a statistic that only one in four Americans has somebody that can confide in. There are statistics about how loneliness can have a big impact on our physical health where some scientists have compared it to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. And I already knew, okay, this is gonna be a big issue if you’re in the workplace if you’re not. For myself, when I was in Toronto, as I shared earlier, I felt like I was really well connected. Like I had a lot of connections. I wouldn’t say that I was lonely yet. I did still feel that impact of I don’t have anyone to talk to.
Jan Keck (07:21):
I didn’t have anyone that I could call in the middle of the night or like show up at front of their door with let’s say a bottle of wine and say like, Hey, I, I dunno, there’s something going on. Can we chat? And they would like, welcome me in. And I think there’s this thing happening where there’s a lot of people who feel disconnected, but number one, they might not even be aware of it because we distract ourselves by, I dunno, picking up the phone, going on social media and like scrolling through like different social media app feeds. And you just kind of numb that feeling. You’re not really pausing to pay attention to it. And I think that’s the bigger problem that a lot of people feel disconnected, yet they don’t notice it and therefore they’re not looking for a solution for that either.
Monica Bourgeau (08:11):
Oh, interesting point. Well, and it’s challenging when you talk about disconnection at the workplace too, because up until now it’s just been known that you leave your personal life at the door. Right? You don’t bring your personal life into the workplace. But I think as a result, we’re not bringing our whole selves to the work environment and we’re not forming those deeper connections.
Jan Keck (08:38):
Yeah. I mean I’m sure you’ve heard about the, the Google study where they figure out how what makes a highly successful high performing team. They found out that psychological safety and trust are actually the foundation that teams need to have, which means team members need to be able to feel safe to speak up and like share things that are hard or be vulnerable in front of each other. And I think most teams don’t have that. Like, you might have an idea, but you’re like, Oh, but what if people don’t like it and you don’t share it? Or maybe you make a mistake. And rather than telling everyone right away, you kind of try to cover your tracks. You try to hide it and hope that it doesn’t come out because you’re afraid of what people will say or do once they do find out that you made a mistake.
Jan Keck (09:28):
I think the best teams are open to sharing these things and I feel like there’s so many parallels that I’m realizing now as I’m even sharing that with parenting. Like all of the things I’m learning of how to talk to my son or how to be a better parent can be applied to leading a team. And yeah, it’s definitely in a challenging place that we’re in with teams not even being in the same room often. Right. because of the pandemic or people have moved online. So it’s, it’s just getting more complicated.
Monica Bourgeau (10:10):
It sure is. And during the pandemic, I really enjoyed taking your Zoom facilitator class and I feel like I learned so many things that I didn’t know. And I’ve been using Zoom a long time before the pandemic, but there’s so many things that you can do to create more engagement using virtual communication as well. So maybe we could talk about a few of those suggestions.
Jan Keck (10:39):
Sure. The very first thing that I have noticed, especially when it comes to creating trust is creating psychological safety, creating those connections with teams. I like to think of new teams, strangers. Like that’s maybe the hardest part. It might be easier if people know each other already a little bit. But if you get a group of strangers together, there’s this moment that happens often where you ask a question and all you get is crickets.
Monica Bourgeau (11:11):
Nobody wants to speak.
Jan Keck (11:13):
Right? Yeah. Or what has happened more frequently recently that I’ve heard from a few people, they wanna send everyone to breakout rooms and suddenly they drop off and they leave the meeting.
Monica Bourgeau (11:25):
Jan Keck (11:26):
And to me, both of those are signs that the people, the participants don’t feel safe yet. Like we haven’t built that psychological safety yet. So we’re trying to do something that is a little bit too early, a little bit too risky, too vulnerable for people to do, which is unmuting and sharing something in front of a group of people that they don’t know. So when I design a meeting, when I design a workshop, I always try to build it the same way I would build a campfire. That’s why for the people who would be able to see me, I have a campfire standing behind me. When you hold up a lighter to a big log, what would happen? It probably would not catch fire. Right. Because the flame is way too small for that big log. Yep.
Jan Keck (12:15):
And that’s what we’re trying to do when we ask participants to unmute right in the beginning, share something or send them to breakout rooms too quickly. It’s too uncomfortable for them to participate. So when we do the fire analogy, if we light our paper first and then add the little sticks and then the kindling and at the end put the big log on the fire, once it’s burning already quite well, then this is gonna work and create this nice fire that we can sit around and provide warmth and we can cook food on it. So when we’re designing a virtual experience, what are those first few things that we can do to get people to open up to kind of get settled to get to know each other, but on a slow speed?
Jan Keck (13:07):
So for me, some of the easiest things to do at the very beginning is asking people to just give you a thumbs up or typing a yes in the chat. Like those actions are much easier to do, or like voting in a poll than anything else after. And in my opinion, if you want people to unmute, if you give them a moment to maybe think about the answer to your question, maybe write down the answer to the question. Share it in a breakout room, then come back, they’re much more likely to engage because now they’ve had time to think about it, they’ve had time to process it, maybe they had time to practice sharing and getting feedback from a small group before they try that in the large room.
Monica Bourgeau (13:52):
That’s a great suggestion. And many times we don’t do that, especially in work meetings, there isn’t a warmup, it’s just jump right into business.
Jan Keck (14:04):
Yeah. I think it’s different if you have the same people in the meeting every, like if it’s an ongoing, let’s say a weekly standup meeting or something like that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, then of course you don’t have to build that psychological safety that’s slowly every single time. Sure. But if you work with new people, if you have like a new employee joining or if you have like whole group of people that are working on a new project together, I think we really need to spend the time in building those connections very slowly in the beginning. And maybe having a session just focused on people getting to know each other is, is worth the investment up front.
Monica Bourgeau (14:41):
That’s a great suggestion. And what do you recommend, I know some workplaces now have some people that are coming to the office and then some people are remote and, you know, coming and going and kind of hybrid. How do you structure something when you have some people physically in the office and some people that are remote?
Jan Keck (15:04):
I’m very glad that we’ll talk about this because I’m actually designing a workshop on exactly that topic right now.
Monica Bourgeau (15:10):
Jan Keck (15:11):
And it’s one that I might have a little bit of a controversial opinion on as well. I actually believe that a hybrid meeting should not exist. I think it either is a remote, like virtual meeting or it is an in person meeting. There is no real use case where I think hybrid will be better than let’s say all going virtual, all going in person with the risk of losing some people that can’t attend one or the other. Yep. And here’s the reason why. I think if we look at the meetings that we wanna do and start by what’s the purpose of why we’re bringing people together, Like what do we actually want to have accomplished by the end? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, very rarely would the answer be, Oh I think this should be half of the people online and half of the people in person or some kind of mix of that.
Jan Keck (16:02):
Because the risk of ignoring and missing like communication from half of the group or part of the group that is in the other space right is way too high. And just the fact of making everyone feel included and making everybody’s voice feel heard is so much harder. As it is in my opinion, a hybrid meeting is actually three meetings. Like you’re designing an in-person experience. Yeah. You’re designing a remote experience, but then you also have this overlap of where both of them connect. And to me those are the hybrid moments. And hybrid moments can exist, but I don’t think the whole meeting should be designed as hybrid because you’re running two things. You can’t do just it by doing something in person and expecting the virtual participants to feel as included as the people who are there in the room.
Monica Bourgeau (16:59):
I agree with that so much, even if it is controversial. But I’ve facilitated a meeting where we had many people virtual and then we had some people together kind of around a phone with the Zoom participants on a screen. And like you’re saying, there’s multiple meetings happening because there’s discussion happening there in the room that the people on the Zoom call can’t hear. And it was very difficult to connect. I totally see what you’re saying, but with having kind of these mixed teams that that could be a little bit challenging.
Jan Keck (17:40):
Hybrid meetings shouldn’t exist, but the hybrid workforce definitely does exist. Like it has existed for a long time. So I think having people meet virtually and meet in person is definitely what is happening. And I think there’s a lot of opportunities in there because we can do asynchronous communication as well, Right. Like we don’t always need to be there at the same time. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think that’s what a lot of workplaces are right now, trying to figure out how can we find that right mix of when is it necessary to bring everyone in and when is it not necessary and maybe we can just do a virtual meeting instead. I think those decisions hopefully are gonna be made with more intention than just saying it’s gonna be, it doesn’t matter where you are, you just call in this number or you’re in this room and we’re gonna do it hybrid. That’s kind of where I’m hoping we’ll get to
Monica Bourgeau (18:41):
I hope so too. So essentially even if people are in the office, they could still take the Zoom call in their own private office on Zoom. They don’t necessarily have to convene in person if a large number of the participants are gonna be on Zoom already, just make it a Zoom meeting.
Jan Keck (18:59):
Yeah. Like that would be one solution where everybody feels at the end probably more connected and more visible. Because even if you think of having one camera that shows a whole group to the people who are on Zoom, they will never see the facial expressions of each individual speaker. Because they’re sitting so far away from the camera. But if everybody was in front of their own laptop and once you solve them more like the audio issues, even if they weren’t in the same room. I mean, we all have the devices. I think everybody or most workplaces people have like a personal device that they could log in from, that they then could access the chat they could access different engagement tools or reaction buttons in Zoom. They could share their screen and I think that would make for a much more inclusive experience if not everybody can be there in person.
Monica Bourgeau (19:53):
Yeah. Great suggestions. What other kind of challenges are you hearing about in the workplace with regard to remote work and zoom and video and all of those factors?
Jan Keck (20:07):
Yeah. there’s one big issue that I knew was gonna be a big, big challenge that actually was, that almost helped me back from doing anything online at all. Oh. Because I’ll show it to you, but the people who are listening to this can’t see it. But this is basically a padded envelope. And on this envelope I wrote down Sleep Well and it has a picture of a phone in a sleeping bag. It basically is a cell phone sleeping bag. I’m doing an in-person workshop at the end of this week. And I’m gonna have participants create their own cell phone sleeping bag, bringing a bunch of padded envelopes. I’m gonna bring some stickers and some markers so they can customize it. And that’s where we’re gonna put our phones at the beginning of the workshop so they’re sealed off. Yeah. And they’re not a distraction for when we’re focusing on connection.
Jan Keck (20:58):
Like, I’m running a workshop on building deeply connected teams and to me the phones are one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to connecting with each other because I’m sure you’ve been in the situation where you’re with a friend at a coffee shopping or you’re telling a story and why you’re mid story, like they get a message or the phone rings and it’s on the table, You see that it’s ringing, they pick it up, they reply, you’re still talking. They haven’t even acknowledged you at that this point. Like it just makes you feel
Monica Bourgeau (21:33):
<Laugh>. Yeah. It’s so annoying.
Jan Keck (21:35):
Ignored. Right. It’s so annoying. And to me that’s what’s happening a lot since we had to move online. Like we couldn’t put the technology away anymore. Now we had to find a way on how do we still make sure that we’re present with each other? Cuz I don’t know if you’re looking at me or if you’re checking emails or if you’re scrolling on social media or if you’re doing something else. Right, Right. And I think a lot of people are actually doing something else when they’re attending a meeting. Yeah. Virtually they’re not really present with the person who is talking. So to me that’s maybe the biggest challenge. Like how do we solve this that we don’t make each other feel invisible and unimportant.
Monica Bourgeau (22:19):
Yeah. It is such a challenge. I’ve been to restaurants where I see a group of like three or four people and they’re not engaging with each other. They’re all looking at their phones. And I think you’re missing this huge opportunity to actually have a conversation with the people that are in front of you by looking at your phone. So I love the idea of the sleeping bag <laugh>.
Jan Keck (22:41):
Yeah. But of course that doesn’t really work if we’re all virtual. Unless I’m now thinking if you were an organization, you sent everyone a cell phone sleeping bag and like at the beginning of the virtual meeting they’re like putting it in there and they’re putting it away. Yeah. But still, we’re using our computers and there’s lots of other distractions that are on there, so we can’t, we can’t really turn that off. Right. And I think the, the most important thing we can do or the leaders can do who run meetings and run workshops is set the intention, like put it out there as like I call it a community agreement. Something that we agree on that during this call, especially if it’s focused on let’s say something that helps people connect with each other, where it’s not just a, like somebody’s doing a presentation and you’re there to listen, but is it, it’s a truly interactive experience. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> when we use breakout rooms, nobody wants to be talking to the other person that is not really there. Right. Absolutely. So I usually talk about giving each other the gift of presence and Yeah. Once I actually share what I just told you, Hey, I’m not sure if you’re looking at me or if you’re checking emails right now. Yeah. I know who’s been checking emails because of their facial expression mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and just mentioning that they will be more hesitant to go back to that after that.
Monica Bourgeau (24:07):
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things I’m hearing a lot is people are tired of zoom and tired of being on the camera. In fact, I’m in a, a writer’s group that used to be on Zoom and we would work virtually, like it was a co-working and so we would turn our cameras off when we were co-working, but we had that moment of seeing each other first and it has just moved to no cameras, which I thought was kind of interesting because we’re just seeing basically the person’s box on the screen. So are you starting to hear kind of that almost backlash to zoom and video? And are there any suggestions that you have to help people kind of cope with that?
Jan Keck (24:51):
Yeah, for sure. I think this, this summer I felt the impact the most because this summer a lot of people went back to in person, people went back to the office. Even myself, I felt a little bit zoomed out because yeah. I spent most of my day sitting in the same spot where I’m at right now at my desk looking at a screen. Sure. And especially when it came to socializing with my connections, which are in North America, most of them different time zone. It was the late afternoons that they were like, Hey, we should hang out. We should do a video call. Yeah. And I just was exhausted by a full day sitting in front of the screen that I said, I don’t actually wanna do this anymore. I actually did kind of lose out on connecting with a few people because I didn’t have the energy.
Jan Keck (25:40):
Sure. And I tried to figure out, is that just me said a thing that lots of other people experience as well. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> and I did share kind of an email and on my social media how I’m kind of reconsidering this whole career that I’ve built of teaching people how to connect virtually. Is this like, should we even be doing that? Is this still a problem or should we just go back to in person? That was also right after I attended the World Domination Summit again in person. Yeah. And I came back having given and received so many hugs and high fives and hang out with people in person that I felt the energy of being around people again, that I questioned everything. And out of that moment came kind of two insights and one experiment. First I realized, okay, not everybody has the opportunity to turn technology off and go back to in person.
Jan Keck (26:39):
Right. Like we just talked about hybrid remote teams that don’t work in the same city, same country. And giving our employees the option to stay at home or go to the office. Yep. All of those companies don’t have a choice but to figure out how to do the virtual and hybrid mm-hmm. <Affirmative> type of work workforce. And so I knew, okay, in terms of my business, this is definitely something I need to be investing more in. Like, I’m not gonna stop serving those people because they actually need it more than the people who do have the option to go in person or remote. The second thing I realized for myself personally, I haven’t since I moved to Germany, invested into finding my local community yet. So I just spent more time making connections with people here in my city.
Jan Keck (27:30):
I joined an improv meetup that I’m actually going to after this call today. And I think that helped me get back a little bit more of that energy. Yeah. and then the third thing that happened is I tried this experiment. I’m like, Okay, are we tired of being on a Zoom call or are we tired of looking at a screen and sitting at a desk? Oh, and I actually think it was the latter. So I said, Okay, what if we could still do a Zoom call, but we’re not gonna be at our desks. Yeah. And we’re not gonna be looking at the screen. So I created this series of remote adventure walks. I called them
Monica Bourgeau (28:11):
Jan Keck (28:13):
Where I invited everyone to join on Zoom, but through their cell phone. Yeah. Grab earbuds and plug those in. Nobody’s turning on their camera, it’s just audio only. And I’m sharing different music and different activities that help people connect. And I can still do breakout rooms so people can do like smaller group conversations. And we did lots of like visualizing and I sent them on different adventures, basically saying, Okay, face the sun and walk that direction for the next few minutes. Yeah. They face or find the a natural object and describe that to each other in a breaker room. So there were a lot of activities that we could do that maybe not surprisingly. Yeah. Help people feel more energized. Ah. So I did this check in and check out at every session where I ask people how, how much energy do we have right now on a scale from one to 10.
Jan Keck (29:11):
<Affirmative> knowing that after a Zoom call, especially now in 2022, people usually feel drained. They feel like they have less energy of looking at a screen for like an hour. With the audio only experience, it was the complete opposite. Like people would check in at maybe like a five or six and almost everyone checked out at like a eight, nine, or 10. Wow. And people said I could have gone on for like another half hour, so I realized I can do much longer events because people are moving around. Like, your scenery is changing. Yeah. You only have sound, so you’re focusing on just that sense. And somehow it also made people feel more connected to each other. It was almost a little bit more intimate experience than looking at a screen and, and hearing somebody that way.
Monica Bourgeau (30:02):
Very interesting. I would love to participate in one of those calls. That sounds like a lot of fun. And I remember when you sent that email out that you were a little bit burned out on Zoom and I remember feeling a little panicky because I feel like you’re kind of the only person that I know of in the world really doing this kind of work of creating this deeper connection and doing the Zoom facilitation training. And I thought, if Jan steps away, what are we gonna do? <Laugh>? So I’m glad you found some solutions.
Jan Keck (30:36):
Yeah. It was a bit of an identity crisis that I had there, but like I said, it was more, more the personal need for connection that I felt For in person that I haven’t actually looked into yet mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and realizing like when I send out that email, I got, half of the people responded, I’m, I feel the same way. I don’t want to be on Zoom anymore, I don’t wanna look at a screen anymore. Right. and the other half said, I’m so grateful that this exists because of all of these opportunities and all of these friendships that I’ve made with people and all of these communities that I’ve found. So I knew that for some people it was really important to continue and for other people like me mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, maybe they needed to invest into their own kind of finding a new social circle, going back to in person, like going back to in person after the pandemic is challenging too.
Jan Keck (31:28):
It is. Right? Like there is, Yeah. It just feels different. I remember attending my very first in person event that I attended in the summer of 2021 with a community where I usually would hug everyone. Yeah. But when I approach people, I was not sure if I’m ready to hug or if they’re ready to hug. And it was just this weird thing, like kind of like when, when you’re trying to shake somebody’s hand and they want to give you a fist bump and you’re like, they change to the hand and you change to the fist. Right. Like it was just this awkward dance that kind of overtook those, but usually should be, Hey, it’s so great to see you again after like, being locked in for like a year and a half.
Monica Bourgeau (32:12):
Yeah. It’s been an interesting kind of dynamic to go back to some in-person meetings, you kind of have to just gauge the other person and what they’re kind of expecting as well. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but I think that’s a great suggestion though, is if people are, are feeling burned out on Zoom to try to find ways to get that in-person connection, even if it’s outside of your work. Or I know I find that I work from home all the time and I have for about 15 years and sometimes at the end of the day my husband will be coming home and I’ll say, Can we eat out? I just need to get out of the house and like be around other people. So that makes a lot of sense to me.
Jan Keck (32:57):
Yeah. It’s been, it’s been a good thing, even for myself with the remote adventure walks, I realized that with a lot of things I created it for myself because I’m like, I need this. Yeah. But then I was the one who was sitting in front of the computer doing breakout rooms and sending people off into adventures and I could not leave my computer because
Monica Bourgeau (33:19):
Right. I couldn’t. You’re
Jan Keck (33:20):
Facilitating, facilitated. And I think for a lot of people that are like running those meetings, it sometimes can feel like you’re left out of the connections that you’re creating all of those sparks for campfires that you’re igniting.
Monica Bourgeau (33:37):
Yeah. That’s so true. You also mentioned, you know, on the adventure walks that you have the cameras off. Do you think that kind of rotating between maybe camera on and camera off, do you think that’s helpful? Do you think the camera on is necessary? I’ve, I’ve heard some employers now are requiring cameras on during staff meetings and there’s a little bit of backlash to that. Like what, what do you see as far as the cameras concerned?
Jan Keck (34:04):
Yeah, I think the people who require cameras to be on, they don’t really trust their employees. Yeah. And, and I think it’s the same thing of the people who require employees to come back to the office and don’t want them to working at home, even though they might be more efficient there. It’s, I think a matter of trust there, because for me, I don’t require cameras on yet. I would say 90% of the time people have cameras. Almost everyone has cameras on when I, when I run sessions because I set those expectations from the beginning and I tell them why I want cameras to be on. Yeah. But there’s also times where I ask them to do, to actually turn it off. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So whenever we do anything that is like a reflection exercise or a journaling activity, I tell everyone. Or if we’re watching a video, I tell everyone, Turn off your cameras because I’m not actually looking at you. We’re not looking at each other. Sure. We don’t need that. And I think it’s a good break from that feeling of being watched. And I think that’s the Yeah. The part that also gets tiring, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So of course when we do breakout rooms and you want to connect with each other, that’s where you wanna have your cameras on. If you’re one person’s doing a presentation that is not interactive, which I hope is also not happening as much anymore,
Monica Bourgeau (35:27):
Jan Keck (35:28):
Maybe not necessary, but I like to ask people for a thumbs up or head nods or at least some engagement in the chat or using the reaction button so I can get some feedback. Because for a presenter or if you’re a speaker, getting that feedback back from the audience is also really important to get your energy up.
Monica Bourgeau (35:50):
It is so important. I agree. Otherwise it feels like you’re just talking into space. And that’s a great observation about the whole camera aspect with regard to work that and the employee can feel that too. Like if your employer doesn’t trust you, you know. That doesn’t create a very good working relationship. I know that there’s a study that came out recently that something like only one in four employees feel like their employer cares about their wellbeing. And that’s just shocking to me. You know, if we feel like our employers don’t care about us, they don’t trust us you know, it doesn’t create a lot of loyalty on the other side, which kind of makes quiet quitting and some of these other things that we’re seeing difficulty in recruiting more understandable, I think.
Jan Keck (36:39):
Yeah. That’s a pretty crazy statistic. I haven’t heard that before, but I can see it. Yeah. From the conversations that I have with people and like when I work with organizations that have this tradition of like, we have our cameras off, we have to work way harder to get them to turn it on, but once they’re on, they usually stay on cuz people feel the impact of it. But yeah, it’s like once you start not caring about it, then mm-hmm. <Affirmative> enforcing it is just like that in my mind will backfire.
Monica Bourgeau (37:18):
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Well, good suggestions. I’m just curious, so what is your kind of vision for the future of work? Like if you could wave a magic wand and create, you know, work environments where people can actually thrive and enjoy going to work and really a better future for work, what would that look like?
Jan Keck (37:43):
Hmm. That’s a very good question. I think that where some organizations are probably already doing this, what I’m imagining good, which is in a way a hybrid workforce. Like yeah, employees can choose if they want to go to the office or work at home. But of course if you’re working in the office, there should be enough people there that you also feel a little bit more of that connection, that energy there, rather than everybody working kind of individually in their own space mm-hmm. <Affirmative> because then we could also just be all virtual. Right. But I think that there is gonna be a mix of giving people the flexibility and finding the reason why people need to come at least once a year. Like even for remote teams, I think if at least once a year they bring everyone together in the same place Yeah. For a short retreat, for example then they will build such stronger connections and like trust and psychological safety. Like it’s not impossible online, but it’s definitely easier in person. Yeah. And I think that will make an impact once people go back and working at home. And if you’re ever worried about employees doing their work, getting them in person connected and getting to know them a little bit better, just beyond the name that they have on the bottom of their zoom call <laugh> is I think a good thing.
Monica Bourgeau (39:11):
Yeah. Great suggestion. I worked for a company, one of my first jobs out of college actually that did a camp and they did it every two years or something, but they brought together all the employees from different states and locations and I just remember it as being like one of the most impactful things that I attended in business because we got to meet all of these people from other offices and we played basketball and we walked along the lake and, you know, we left with these amazing connections, but we also had all this great training in between. They did a good job of making it fun. But I love that suggestion and I don’t think companies kind of do that enough, you know. I know it’s expensive, but like our organization saved all of their training budget for that time period and invested it all in one place rather than everyone going to different conferences or that sort of thing. So
Jan Keck (40:10):
Yeah. I think it’s not possible for every organization. Yeah. And I think the, the matter of investing into that, like building those deeply connected teams will pay off if you do it virtually or in person. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. But most, I think again, thinking of like ideal future of work. The other thing I would love to see if there is weekly meetings with the same people. Yeah. Investing at least 10 to 15 minutes in connecting people to each other before we even get into the content. Cause I think 10 to 15 minutes from a whole week of work, that is not a lot of time, but I think it will make a huge impact if you kind of accumulate that on like in every, every week. That’s a lot of hours in the end that yeah. That will be added up.
Monica Bourgeau (41:04):
Great suggestions. So are you thinking just like a quick check in or something at the beginning before you jump into the business?
Jan Keck (41:12):
Yeah. I like to call them ice melters because ice breakers is definitely the word that makes people cringe a little bit too much. Yeah. But something that just warms up the people in the room, gets them to arrive, share something with each other, maybe do a quick breakout room depending on how big the group is. I have one client of mine, she works for a big bank in Canada and she has several teams that she runs. And they all have a weekly meeting and she started implementing some of the activities that I shared with her and by now has gone so far that she actually stopped being responsible for it. And every week a different team member is responsible to bring any activity that helps them connect. Like the only things are they need to prepare it. So if they need slides, they need to set up the slides if they need to bring anything they need to bring it. And it cannot be longer than 10 minutes. Nice. And at the beginning, every session they know who’s leading it, they run the activity and then they get on with the rest of the meeting. And she’s been doing that for a couple of years now and I can only guess how well it’s going because she’s still doing it.
Monica Bourgeau (42:22):
Wow. That’s awesome. I love that. Good example. So what are you most excited about right now?
Jan Keck (42:33):
I think, let me actually look at my calendar because I have a few things coming up. I think one thing I’m excited about is the remote adventure walks starting up again after the winter because I’m not sure how many people want to be spending time outside when it gets really cold.
Jan Keck (42:53):
I feel like we’re just at the point where it starts to get a little bit too cool to go on long walks outside. So I am excited to bring that also to organizations in the spring. And offer that as like, Hey, I can organize this once a month for your team. And again, it’s a great way to get off the screen but still have that kind of social interaction. So that’s one thing I’m excited about. And the other thing is my virtual facilitator training that you’ve been part of.
Monica Bourgeau (43:21):
Yeah. It was amazing
Jan Keck (43:22): Coming up to the ninth cohort.
Monica Bourgeau (43:25):
Jan Keck (43:26):
And I’m not sure, I think were you part of the first one or the second one?
Monica Bourgeau (43:30):
It was one of those either the first or the second. I know it was pretty early on, but it’s still so helpful. I still use those techniques when I lead virtual meetings.
Jan Keck (43:40):
Yeah. So it’s evolved a lot since then. Wow. Every time it’s a little bit different mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and of course tools change. Zoom has changed a lot in the last two years. Yeah. I just had the graduation of the last cohort yesterday and I’m really excited about seeing them applying the things that they’re learning. I think that’s like more so the seeing the impact it can create for the people who take my training. Yeah. where I know okay, they can do a much bigger impact than me running every team building session. If they go out and they work with teams and they work with organizations and communities, then my impact of creating more inclusive and engaging experiences online can be much bigger.
Monica Bourgeau (44:27):
Yeah. Oh, I love that. And I’m excited that you’re still offering that as well as I really enjoyed it and we’ll make sure to put a link in the show notes to your website where people can learn more about that as well. So what is kind of one key takeaway that you wanna make sure our listeners today take with them after, after the show?
Jan Keck (44:51):
I think we’ll go back to the campfire that I mentioned earlier. And if the people are listening can just think of what’s one question, one activity, like one small thing you can ask your team members to do during the next team meeting to just open up the conversations. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> open up them for connecting with each other that isn’t too scary. So we don’t wanna ask them, Hey, when was the last time you felt vulnerable or when was the last time you cried? Like yeah, those are maybe great questions when we get to know people really well. Right. But not as like a first interaction. And I’ll actually share one question that I love asking people even at networking events. Oh. And I usually have people imagine that we’re meeting again one year from today. Yeah. we’re meeting at a restaurant and we have this bottle of champagne and two glasses and we’re cheering on something that we both have accomplished. Yeah. what is the one thing that you want to have accomplished in one year?
Monica Bourgeau (45:58):
I love that question.
Jan Keck (45:59):
Conversations are much better when we go to networking events than, Hey, so what do you do and how’s your week been and what are you gonna do on the weekend? I feel like gets more to the core of what people value as well.
Monica Bourgeau (46:17):
That’s a great question. I think we all get tired of the same old small talk at networking events, so I love that. Thank you. So Jan, what where can our listeners find you? What’s your website or social media or preferred place that people reach out to you?
Jan Keck (46:35):
Yeah. my hub of all the places, all the things that I do is my website. So if you go to www.JanKeck.com that’s where you’ll find out everything. And out of the other platforms, I’m mostly active on YouTube and LinkedIn these days. So anyways, listening to this, you can just send me a connection request, just make sure to mention that you’ve listened to this podcast so I know you’re not just a person trying to sell me something because I’m very picky with the connection request that I usually accept.
Monica Bourgeau (47:08):
There’s a lot of those these days. So. Wonderful. Well thank you so much for being on this show. I really appreciate it. And I’ll put links to those in the show notes as well then. Great to see you.
Jan Keck (47:22):
Yes, same. Thank you so much for having me.
Monica Bourgeau (47:24):
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