Interviews 4 minutes read

People need people, we are social beings | Interview with Dejan Zivkovic

It has become easier than ever to blur the lines between work and everything else in our lives. Although employees are split on whether they would rather work remotely or in an office, most say remote work has both benefits and challenges.

We spoke with Dejan Zivkovic, Psychologist and Business coach, regarding work-related stress and what we can do about it.

If you were not a psychologist, what would you be?

Dejan: I guess I would be a historian or an archeologist because I always loved history. If I could choose any job, in a situation where anything is possible, then I would be a professional football player 😊.

What would you consider to be the leading causes of work-related stress today?

Dejan: Working long hours on a regular basis. Toxic environment and bad relationship with superiors. Lack of security and lack of control over one’s job. Frequent changes. Lack of proper communication within the organization. Just to name the few...

What can an employer do to help employees?

Dejan: An employer can do a lot. At first, he should foster an organizational culture that promotes open communication, empowerment of employees, and teamwork. Trust is also a key – if employees have trust in management, then stress should not be too big a problem.

For every organization, it is especially important to have and develop a good leader – the ones that not only have technical knowledge but also have people skills and high EQ (emotional intelligence). Good leaders that are high in EQ can understand their employees and empathize with them, but also, they are able to motivate and inspire them – and motivated employees do not get stressed that easily.

What do you do to de-stress and relax?

Dejan: Yoga and meditation are for me the most enjoyable anti-stress tools. Besides that, I like to take a long walk in nature with my family. I play tennis every Saturday and it helps me to get rid of any negative energy that I have accumulated during the week.

How do you see work culture in the future: a return to normal life or deeply marked by new habits?

I hope that we will return to a normal, but enriched life, enriched with new and good habits that we developed during the last year. But I must add that I do not like the possible future in which people mostly work from home; in which people mostly/only see their colleagues on Zoom. People need people. We are social beings, and we need other people for our wellbeing, for our happiness, for our growth.

Leaving the illness itself to one side (if one can), do you see any advantages in what has happened?

Dejan: I guess companies finally realized that working from home is not a terrible idea, but I hope that this will not become a normal situation because, at least for people that have families and kids, working from home is not always a great option. Also, people are now more open to having online meetings, so I guess that is a good thing – at least it saves money and time😊.

Do you have some tips on how for maintaining mental fitness while working from home?

  • Physical fitness is a great foundation for mental fitness – so people should exercise as much as they can or like.
  • Yoga and/or meditation.
  • Taking walks in nature or driving bikes.
  • Reading good books.
  • Binge-watching good TV shows - especially comedic ones 😊.
  • Socializing (on safe distance 😊).
  • Talking about emotions.
  • Setting goals and finding personal meaning in this situation.

Any good mental health podcasts, blogs, influencers, or newsletters that we should be following?

Dejan: I can recommend two influencers and two podcasts:

  • Mark Manson, author of the bestseller “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” (markmanson.net)
  • Brene Brown, bestselling author on leadership, empathy… (brenebrown.com)
  • happinesslab.fm – great mental health podcast
  • play.acast.com/s/themindfulpodcast – podcast on mindfulness

Conclusion

Taking steps to manage WFH stress is important for both employers and employees to create a mentally healthy working environment where people feel supported. We all deal with stress in different ways, but there are small changes everyone can make to ensure that stress is managed in a healthy and effective manner. 

So, let's take care of ourselves first.

Stay safe and stay online :)