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Thriving in work and life

Marianne van Duin, Regional Vice President – Sales, Growth and Emerging Markets

Even with the world feeling like it’s upside down, cities across the globe still impacted with COVID-19 and restrictions still imposed in each of our countries, life still needs to go on. 

For the past one-and-a-half years, I have had to adjust to a radically different work setting. I joined Equinix in January 2020 as the sales leader for growth and emerging markets (GEMs) for EMEA covering 11 countries. Two months into the job, the world around us changed dramatically. Normally, I would have travelled all 11 countries, meeting clients, shaking hands. In this new frontier that we have never experienced before, the old rules no longer apply. For example, I have been working at home, surrounded by my husband and two teenagers. Working remotely does not diminish the fact that I am surrounded by a great leadership team, nor my pride in our accomplishments in creating our Growth and Emerging Markets (GEMs) team. Together with the great sales leaders in each of my GEM countries, we have created cohesion and a sense of belonging, and we are each proud to say, “I’m safe, I belong and I matter,” and every day the team excels. “We are GEMs.” 

My 3Rs

With the pandemic and the restrictions, my days are quite different from my pre-pandemic days. From travelling around, meeting customers, partners and local teams in 11 countries, now I do all of this virtually behind my laptop and through Zoom. I began with a five-day week filled with an overflowing agenda from early morning until the early evening hours. A dramatic change needed to occur to make the situation tenable and allow me to be a pleasant mom to my kids and wife to my husband, while also being a successful sales leader for Equinix. I’m sharing my 3Rs that help me balance my personal and professional life.  

Be Relevant (to customers and your team )

Be Resilient (believe in a cause bigger than yourself)

Generate Revenue (build deeper relationships on the basis of impact and value)

Preparation is key to everything 

When I end my day, I plan the next day with a list of must-do activities or priorities. With everyone working from home, my family agreed we would break for lunch or, when that is impossible, I would go for a short 8k run or do something other than being glued to my desk. I must say with the pandemic, I have become healthier, able to engage in more sports activities than ever before.  

Create the boundaries

You can do it all and be amazing if you are disciplined in creating boundaries and refuse to be glued to the laptop or desk for hours. 

1.    Establish the right boundaries between work and personal life. For instance, I do not read email or answer calls during lunch or dinner with my family. Exceptions are made for our last days of the quarter. 

2.    Create time for sport, hobbies and learning new skills. This commitment has given me energy and new ideas. My best ideas come when I am running or when I have time off from daily work activities. I highly recommend that if you have internal calls where you just listen in and are not required take notes or present, go out and join the call while walking. 

Sports and music are my favorite stress relief activities. From boxing and running to playing my saxophone, these hobbies allow me to imagine a troublesome situation or person in my life (or teenage kids) and release tension. One hour in boxing class leaves me re-energized, as do a 10K run in the dunes or any time in nature. To overcome challenges or generate new ideas, I run surrounded by nature. Playing the saxophone also helps wind down.

3.    Take a holiday/vacation. Everyone should take time off and be away to get re-energized and recharged. 

4.    Say No. Working from home with little separation from my family becomes challenging, especially with two home-schooled teenagers. I found it useful to be able to say No when needed. I’ll say, “I have an important family priority—let’s pick this up tomorrow morning,” or to my family, “I cannot join, as I have a priority project at work that I need to finish.” Of course, it is important to prioritize well, as not everything is a priority. When I communicate clearly like this, it’s not a surprise, and for the most part, people understand. Whether it’s your children or your manager, it’s important to be clear about the reason for Yes or No.

A company that cares leads to a productivity win

Equinix truly cares about the well-being of its employees and is very fair about work-life balance. Options include wellness days, flexibility and a general environment of inclusion and belonging. Equinix is the best working culture I have ever experienced. Our company is growing at an incredible rate with tremendous career progression opportunities, a flat hierarchy with an open-door policy, great perks and a fantastic work-life balance approach.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the days when team members could drop by one another’s desks to brainstorm solutions are gone. Zoom calls have quickly become the preferred alternative to in-person interactions, with the downside that most of us are in a constant back-to-back chat. To counter this, Equinix has incorporated a Zoom-free day every Wednesday, which helps us reflect and use the time to catch up on important projects that require extended focus times—for example, writing this articleJ. 

Cutting back meeting times, e.g., from 30 minutes to 20 minutes or 60 minutes to 50 minutes has also helped. 

These may seem like simple policies, but they made a world of difference for my team. They create a productivity win for employees who feel burned out and result in a win-win for all parties. 

We also had the generous benefit of a two-day shutdown for well-being, with the goal to switch off, reset and do things we enjoy. For me that meant spending time outside with the family and visiting the beautiful city of Cadiz in Spain.

The original article was published here.

Posted by Marianne van Duin, Regional Vice President – Sales, Growth and Emerging Markets on Sep 28, 2021

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