We talked to Jane Piper of Pipsy about wellbeing and productivity in the workplace, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jane Piper: There are two sides to this story, one on either side of the globe. I live in Switzerland, and most of my family is in New Zealand. The situation in Switzerland is similar to many countries; we are into the 3rd lockdown. I can only say I am very grateful that we have never been restricted from going outside. I plan my day, so I can go jogging, cycling, walking, or cross-country skiing to keep fit and sane!
In New Zealand, with virtually no corona cases, they are living a life as normal life, except for no tourists and overseas travel. Beaches, bar-be-ques, going to sporting events, and family parties. I am envious but also very happy that my older family members are safe and well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pipsy.
Jane Piper: I think I’m very typical of many people who worked for many years in corporate jobs. I had a mid-life corporate burn-off where I suddenly started wondering why I was working so hard. I spent much of my career in Human Resources roles and had managed over 10 major restructurings. So it felt like inhuman resources. I thought there has to be a more sustainable and humane way that we manage people in organizations. I decided to set up my own consulting company, advising on wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.
How does Pipsy innovate?
Jane Piper: I find I get a lot of energy from working with other people. Some of the ideas come from clients who are interested in solving a problem or trying a new approach. Other times by speaking with people who have experienced challenges and are looking for a solution.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jane Piper: Early on in the pandemic, many of the clients started postponing their F2F courses, workshops, presentations, and conferences. For a few weeks, I didn’t want to open my email to see another project or event postponed or cancelled. However, as the pandemic went on, many clients have realized they can’t postpone until the pandemic is over and have wanted to find ways it can be delivered virtually.
At the same time, mental wellbeing has become much more of a concern with increased levels of stress and anxiety, so I have been working with enlightened companies to support their employees during these challenging times.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jane Piper: I could have required some of my clients to pay cancellation fees. It wasn’t really a difficult decision, though, for me – I decide not to force the issue and keep a good relationship in the long-term.
One of the lessons learnt – I developed a virtual course based around my book, Focus in the Age of Distraction, thinking it is just what people need to help manage the stress of these times. However, it has not sold as I expected. My lesson learnt that I should assess the market before spending time developing a product.
What specific tools, softwares, and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?
Jane Piper: I’ve always developed highly interactive training and workshop when live. When I moved to virtual facilitation, I had to find tools that allowed the participants to interact and engage with the material. No zoom zombies in my workshops! MURAL, padlet, and pixton are some of my favourites.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jane Piper: There are so many people and companies in this space, but I don’t see them as competitors. I think we are all working towards creating a new way of working that complements each other.
Your final thoughts?
Jane Piper: If other people who’ve got the mid-life corporate burnout feeling, my advice is to go for it. The freedom and enjoyment I have from being my own boss is worth it.
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