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HCI Webinar: It’s Just a Thought: Emotional Freedom through Deliberate Thinking, with Thomas M. Sterner

Updated: Apr 3

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Thomas M. Sterner about his book, It’s Just a Thought: Emotional Freedom through Deliberate Thinking. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Jonathan and Kevin discussed the challenges related to return-to-office mandates, with a focus on the shifting dynamics of work after the pandemic. They emphasized the importance of thoughtful conversations about work within organizations and the need to consider a mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote work. They also highlighted the importance of effective communication about the reasons behind decisions related to remote work and the need for leaders to be empathetic and understand the differences in individual experiences.


Remote Work Preferences Post-Pandemic


Jonathan H. Westover discussed the shift towards remote and hybrid work during the pandemic, noting that many organizations were forced to adapt to stay functional. He highlighted that the pandemic led to a significant increase in comfort with remote work and a shift in preferences towards it. Kevin Eikenberry emphasized the need to distinguish between working remotely and returning to a physical office. Jonathan agreed, pointing out that remote work is not a new concept, with examples of remote work dating back several decades.


Work Dynamics Post-Pandemic: A Thoughtful Conversation


Jonathan and Kevin discussed the shifting dynamics of work after the pandemic, with a focus on the debate surrounding return-to-office mandates. Jonathan emphasized the importance of thoughtful conversations about work within organizations and the need to consider a mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote work. Kevin noted that society has traditionally viewed work as being place-based and time-specific, and that this shift in perspective takes time. He also pointed out that the current either-or mindset regarding returning to the office isn't helpful and could be contributing to the perceived chaos.


Remote Work Decision Complexities


Kevin and Jonathan discussed the complexities of remote work and the decision-making process for organizations. Kevin emphasized that decisions about remote work should be based on the specific work, organization, and team needs, rather than a blanket policy. Jonathan agreed, noting that one-size-fits-all approaches, such as mandating a return to the office, can lead to misperceptions and lack of trust. Both agreed on the importance of effective communication about the reasons behind these decisions. Kevin highlighted a common mistake made by leaders - not providing enough context or "why" behind their decisions.


Remote Work Decisions: Experiment With Pilots, Not Policies


Kevin Eikenberry expressed his belief that it's a mistake to make decisions about remote work on a global or organizational level. He highlighted that different individuals and teams have varying preferences for working from home or at the office. He suggested that the best approach is to create pilots and experiment with different working models, rather than establishing policies. Kevin also pointed out that the time of day could be a factor in determining the best work arrangement. Jonathan H. Westover agreed with Kevin's points.


Flexibility in Workplace: Remote vs Office


Jonathan and Kevin discussed the importance of flexibility in the workplace and how different life stages and circumstances can affect preferences. Jonathan shared his experience with remote work, the flexibility it offered, and how it impacted his reading time. They emphasized that while some people prefer remote work for its flexibility, it does not necessarily mean they dislike going into the office. They also highlighted the need for leaders to be empathetic and understand the differences in individual experiences. The conclusion was that a hybrid approach, tailored to individual needs, would be most beneficial.


Redefining Work and Leadership Post-Pandemic


Kevin Eikenberry and Jonathan H. Westover discussed the evolving nature of work, particularly in light of the pandemic. Kevin emphasized the need for leaders to shift from policies to piloting solutions, and to engage their teams in these changes. He also stressed the importance of redefining work and productivity, focusing not on activity but on achievement. Jonathan highlighted the need to redesign the workplace, jobs, and how work gets done. Kevin encouraged leaders at all levels to think about how they can create flexibility in their teams to achieve results, regardless of location or proximity. The discussion ended with Kevin inviting the audience to connect with him through his website or LinkedIn, and emphasizing that leadership should always come first, regardless of location.


Listen to the webinar here:





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