Find Your Tribe

By Darren Buford
[Editor's Note]

Recently, our publications department challenged ourselves and tested the waters of working remotely. For one week, our group of eight worked from home and communicated sparingly. Thankfully technology—email, Slack, and Skype—enabled us to connect with one another when necessary. Mostly, though, we just worked in silence, at our homes, and occasionally checked in when we had questions.
There were many plusses and minuses about the experience. As departments go, ours was a good test case for working remotely: our work can be done often at high levels in isolated environments. Editors and designers often work for lengthy periods of time focused intently on reading, writing, or laying out design; the one negative here, of course, is the loss of the creative collaboration process that’s so critical to our production.
At the conclusion of our experiment, our group met and discussed what worked well and what didn’t. Following are some pros that arose during our postmortem conversation:

“I was very task-oriented and stayed on task longer throughout the day, because there were fewer interruptions and distractions.”

“Today’s technology is so excellent that it was easy to connect and chat one on one, or as a team, when needed.”

“Because of the silence at home, the environment was more conducive to individual creativity.”

That said, there were certainly cons too:

“It was difficult to collaborate on creative projects. Some of our best ideas are generated during the collaboration process. There was a day mid-week where I suffered from creative block and there wasn’t anyone there to help me rethink my strategy.”

“I got cabin fever by day four.”

“I missed my daily purpose.”

Why do I mention this? Well, massage therapists often work in what could be called an isolated environment. Yes, some MTs work at spas, some work in franchises, and some work in the offices of other health-care professionals. But most work from their private practices or homes and may only see their clients during the cycle of a normal day with little other interaction.
Is this a problem? Not if MTs take the time to seek personal and professional outlets, writes author Kristin Coverly. In this issue, Coverly’s feature “Belonging” (page 64) explores her own bodywork practice and the profession—all against the backdrop of our technology-driven society, where we are all experiencing a greater disconnect from one-on-one connectedness.
Kristin’s answer for her own practice: she found several small tribes of like-minded personal and professional individuals with whom she could check in with, count on, and reach out to for guidance when she needed—“her people.” One, two, or 20—tribes can consist of any number of people and should be both inside and (especially) outside of your profession—to give you unbiased, fresh perspectives. “Feeling connected to others affords the reassurance that you’re not in it alone,” Coverly writes. “You can flourish because you have allies on the journey who fill your needs for connection and support.”
Our department learned during our experiment we work best under a variety of conditions: allowing time for group think; quiet, alone space for work on more challenging projects; and our responsibility to check out from work and connect with peers to recharge our batteries.
We hope this advice serves you well, and we hope you enjoy this issue.

Darren Buford