Episode #
022

Duty of Care and Lego Serious Play With Benjamin Bader | TNN22

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Episode Summary

When you hear digital nomads, you automatically think of people who have all the time in the world to travel yet earning a sustainable income. You think of flexibility. You think of FREEDOM. What most people don’t realize is that it takes a lot to be a digital nomad. As a laptop-wielding warrior, traveling to different countries means that you deal with timezone differences. You deal with safety concerns. Your ultimate weapon is to educate yourself of the risks in this lifestyle. And that’s where Ben Bader comes into play.

In this episode of The New Nomad, Ben talks about the importance of duty of care and duty of loyalty to companies and their employees. He, together with hosts Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski, gave tips on how to place boundaries when it comes to working from anywhere. They talked about why it is not convenient for companies and employers to have their employees work the nine-to-five when there is a better choice, especially with the globalization movement. This episode is definitely filled with things that you, as a digital nomad, will find useful sooner or later.

Timestamps

[3:50] Duty of care: beyond the legal definition

[7:28] Employees and employer well-being partnership

[11:00] Trust begets trust

[12:28] The rules of engagement when it comes to work schedule

[16:13] Using Legos to bring out the inner child in people

[20:48] The duty of loyalty

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad, we have a really interesting guest today, Benjamin Bader of Newcastle University Business School. And the RES Forum will join us today to talk about the future of work duty of care. expatriate management, who knows where this conversation is going to go today? Actually, I think it might even go a little bit towards Legos. So stand by that should be a very interesting conversation. Andrew, my co host and partner in travels, how you doing today and what's on your mind?

Andrew  

Ah, doing very well. It's a It's a lovely day to ponder on the future of work, and how leadership should evolve with that. But you know, when we look at this, one of the things that stands out to me is that many times we catch ourselves with 30 windows open on our screen. Yeah. And, you know, how effective is multitasking? Oh, you know, where are we going with the way we work? And how we've worked in the past? Is it evolving in a wise manner?

Allen  

Well, you know, it's interesting when you bring that up, because, you know, we've heard of companies that say, This day is not a day, you're going to do any zoom or teams meetings. Or people say, I'm just, I'm not going to answer emails, I'm going to do my projects. It is interesting, because we're constantly distracted. And the hard part of it is, is sometimes we need to rest our mind a little bit and move into a different space. And I think it's a real opportunity for us out there, whether you're resting your mind through exercise, or other projects, or hobbies, or perhaps using Legos, along those lines. So maybe that would be a great time to bring the Ben in. Ben, welcome to The New Nomad podcast. First off, where are you at today? How are you doing? And, and welcome aboard.

Ben  

Hi, thank you very much for the invitation. Well, where am I today I am in beautiful colour coats actually, which is the coast in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. And I'm doing wonderful. I'm really excited to talk to you guys was really interesting to listen to some of the previous episodes. And I hope I can share a thing or two that's interesting for you.

Allen  

Well, I know that you've done a lot of studies both at the RES Forum and at Newcastle on duty of care protecting yourself, etc. We'd love to get your thoughts on I mean, certainly, the pandemic has had many people step back, but even before then things like the volcanoes in Iceland, the you know, the the Fukushima disaster, I mean, this is so much need to protect people and duty of care. So maybe a quick comment for you for For the uninitiated, what is duty of care in your your opinion? And and and really how people can help, you know, understand that concept and protect themselves?

Ben  

Well, you starting off with the big one, Allen, here. So, I mean, what's duty of care is an excellent question because there's two components to it. So the first component is the actual legal definition of duty of care that is in what differs from country to country. But at the end of the day, what the law tells you that using the body I have to do in order to protect your employees, to maintain the health and a lot of the things like about avoid accidents and so on. And well what you can kind of do what you have to provide. Now the bigger thing in terms of duty of care what what we look at the study is basically particular with an ankle mobility. The biggest thing is what is going beyond the legal definition all you have to do as an employee on what you should do. And Andrew mentioned mentioned interesting thing about the the different meetings popping up multitasking, different screens, augmented these kind of things in the new, new new normal, I can say new normal? I don't even know if we are the new normal, but what I mean is like, does an employer actually have a duty to at some point, like stop, you can't do it. And that way, you have to basically take it back a notch. 

Other things travel, very interesting thing right now, can you can you travel? I mean, should you travel? Should you ask employees to travel? Or if they want to work from anywhere because that's what they prefer to do for their private reasons and so on? What is your duty of care there? So I don't know giving you an answer to that because much too complex to to to narrow down to one answer. But if you if you really want to look at duty of care in a in a in a way, I think companies can make a difference should be connected to employer value proposition. So not only do what says what the law says but also what what you can do in order to support your employees.

Allen  

I mean, I always love duty of care also of is empowering your employees and their family members to remain safe. And the example I like to use is, before I travelled in work, they made sure I had the correct vaccines. I was vaccinated before I was allowed. And I might not have even known that. So a lot of it is information and support, etc, on that, and I love what you're saying it's beyond the legal definition. Because maybe that wasn't really part of the definition of a point, I feel confident that my company cared enough about me, say, here's the vaccines you should have, here's the in case of emergency phone number, here's your travel medical program, and other things like that. And I probably forgot a few there is that you're feeling too, that it's, it's kind of going that little extra distance to give people the comfort that they know,

Ben  

maybe maybe, maybe even further. But the point is, in terms of like that, let's talk about global mobility and the study we did. Ironically, it was like completed a couple months before the global pandemic. But at that time, more than 30%, I think was slightly over 1/3 of the companies didn't even do an individual risk assignment for each risk assessment for each assignment. So in terms of what you're doing, and go the extra mile, I think there's a lot of room for improvement.

Andrew  

Yes, and, you know, one of those aspects of duty of care that, that I believe is so crucial in in that definition is the employee's well being/mental health. 

Allen  

Yeah. 

Andrew  

But how is that actually addressed in many contexts? Is that just, you know, is that Oh, we're, we have an HR department that they can reach out to? Well, that's not really a safe place, if it is internal many times, because if they're going through a struggle, they're not going to tell their the benefits folks that they're actually having a hard time with our assignment. Yeah, they need that third party. And it may be a marital struggle or a child that was left behind and often school, whether boarding school or university and, and having therapist access to actual therapists will speak to that. Not just an EAP. But a full on well-being  partnership with the employer. That's that's one of my strong points having lived in expatriate assignments various times. I'm passionate about that. And part of that definition that you referenced.

Ben  

But that's a brilliant point. I think the the idea of well being is so so important to to have a look at I mean, mental well being bigger than ever, probably since COVID. Or maybe not bigger than ever, but at least more awareness created than than ever on that. But yeah, you're right. I mean, can you go to your employer again? Can you say, Hey, listen, I have I have some issues here, what where should they go to? Yeah, we certainly need more awareness on that front.

Allen  

So as you break this down, there's travel, you know, that we kind of touch but there's kind of risk. There's security, there's health. There's probably legal concerns out there. If if you were listening to this podcast, and you're kind of new to duty of care. And I know there's a lot there it. So if you were building a program, would you would you first build it for somebody who's been deployed to another country with like some sort of evacuation both for security, health and natural disaster? Would you build it with maybe a geo position tool geolocation tool where people could track you and help you right away? What are some of the components that you really advocate to help protect people duty of care?

Ben  

That's an excellent question. Because from from my observation, I mean, the first, the first party that gets involved in building the duty of care is the lawyer. And that is for apparent reasons. And I'm not saying you shouldn't have lawyers involved, because companies need to protect their back. What the point is, particularly in global assignments, who's typically not involved as the expatriate. So if you've got a lawyer, we take that you've got the HR people, you may have a global mobility manager. But in very rare cases, you actually asked the expatriate what they what they feel is necessary. So if I if I was going to build that I would do a workshop and get all these people in the room, have the lawyer take notes, it got to be careful what to say, but No, it's nothing against lawyers. But, but the issue here is, it's Yes, the legal side needs to be covered. But I believe the duty of care as much more than just meeting the word of the law. We need to take the spirit of the law.

Andrew  

Interesting, okay. So as I look at your your role in your experience as the, the head of its deputy head of the department what's what's that department at Newcastle?

Ben  

Okay. Well, that's university structure is a bit different than the corporate structures, I suppose. But at the end of the day, it's, well, the subject group is nothing else but a department with 60-some full-time academics. And of course, we have a duty of care as well, for our staff.

Andrew  

Yes. So at Newcastle, you're looking at leadership and the future, I believe that the future of work? Yeah. How do you feel that those leading companies have to change their perspectives? And the work of the global workforce is changing, even manufacturing is saying, No, we're sending a large portion of jobs.

Ben  

Oh, excellent. Yeah. Um, how do we achieve change? The first thing to change is probably trust, more trust, trust your employees. I know. I mean, in academia, and again, it's a little bit different, because everyday academics used to work from home quite a lot. So there's this, this split between the research work and your classroom work, and of course, got to be in the classroom to teach, or at least until before the pandemic, but but I think trust is the first step. So if you have your people doing their work, it shouldn't matter when they do it, it shouldn't matter, like how they do it to a certain extent. And most importantly, if they are not on standby for something, on call all the time, you should not assume that they are not working. But on the other hand, they should be very, very clear standards in terms of, particularly when when teams need to work together, how the how the workflow is arranged. Because like, if I for private reasons, want to structure my day as an A game, I want to I want to get a really early, get things done. So my, my workday starts, like, say, six, but I want to be done like in the early afternoon, because I'm the one who go, like spend time with my kids go surfing whatever, versus my colleague has a completely different day. And then they they want to get up later sleep in and relate or yet somebody else has a similar work friend of the me just happens to be in a completely different time zone, then we've got a problem in a way of when, when we need to talk together and work on projects. 

Now, I'm not saying this is impossible. That's a lot of a lot of opportunity out there as well. But the rules of engagement need to be very clearly defined, say that can give you an example if we've got the time. So I'm currently working on a study with a colleague who's in California, and two colleagues in Europe. And the interesting thing is, like when we work on this paper, like I spent a significant amount of time today on the paper, basically handed it over shortly before this podcast, I know she can start working on that because it's just her morning in California can continue that. And then there's a version to continue for me tomorrow in the morning. So it's actually a brilliant thing. But the rules of engagement need to be defined.

Allen  

It's interesting, because what you just described, you also hear about nowadays with famous musicians in bands, they might record in one location, and then they send the music over to the other location and somebody ads. And this is what I think you touched upon great with the future work is there's a huge time shifting, there's not like nine to five is not a definition that applies anymore. I mean, there might be people that work, you know, like you said, afternoon to late evening, you know, there's different lifestyles. Or there might be people that you know, today's a sunny day, I'm going to go surf. But tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, I'm going to work 14 hours. And I love what you said on that. Is that kind of your feeling that, and it's hard for employers, because there are some employees that say, I don't care when you work as long as you get work done. And then there's more traditional players, like, I want to make sure you're doing 40 hours. So what's your perspective on that? And what of maybe some of the studies that you've seen on how flexible employers are towards these type of arrangements?

Ben  

Yeah, that's that that's an interesting approach. Because some of the companies I thought were like, tech companies who were forthcoming in this regard, we're actually taking back a little bit of this flexibility. I mean, the other thing we have to keep in mind, like we talked about that applies to a very narrow field of people, especially [inaudible], they get in office jobs, and they're kind of like, I don't want to think like Today's been day here and in colour codes. So one way to think about like when when the big man decides they want to work night shifts and start going come up with a tracklist reader, like make all this noise in the middle of the night. I don't think most people will be particularly happy about that. So I know there's limitations. I think companies, what would I have encountered there's sort of lots of discussions going on between those people who technically can do it because the job allows to do that. And those were the job absolutely doesn't allow that take Dima, for instance, Germany, I mean, they have a policy now that everybody can work from anywhere they want. If and that's a big if the actual job allow us to do that. So they're not going to build an assembly line for the C class in your backyard. But they they are going in this direction versus other companies actually. Coming coming back to a more more formal nine to five office approach.

Allen  

So you have very interesting thing on your CV, or your background. Could you explain to us this, what is a certified Lego Serious Play facilitator? It's one of the most interesting things I have seen out on anybody's CV in quite a while.

Andrew  

Yes, I must interject there, I'm being a serious Lego guy, myself years of Lego play created creatively, my kids as well, I want to hear this.

Ben  

Brilliant while may use the opportunity to say thank you to Shawn Blair, and serious Rick Sue, who's my trainer. So at the end of the Lego series, place a facilitation method that gets people to achieve results in workshops or in settings that go beyond normal verbal talking. So what people do is they build, they respond to abstract questions and build complex answers with bricks, so metaphors, putting bricks together, assigning it. It's really, it's a really interesting way to help people to access regions of the brain like that are normally not so easily accessible. So basically get out the inner child. There's a brilliant saying, like we, we don't, how does it go? We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing, and the thing Lego serious play, it's a brilliant way to just let go of the normal, inside the box thinking and get some sort of outside the box.

Andrew  

Okay, so that is, I'm gonna have to research that and look into that for our globally distributed team. Because that sounds very intriguing, and actually something that's, that can really, really help with efficiency and getting those juices flowing in a different way. But also, you know, a team team dynamic are learning new processes. Interesting. Thank you.

Ben  

The property team building skills express, like hidden skills you've got find out about your teammates, or even duty of care. I mean, where we are, right now on the face of design the actual Lego serious play workshop on the duty of care, we want to get people in one room and built the future of rebuilt duty of care like physically with with bricks and they've got a visible outfit. Don't get Don't be confused. Since you mentioned you you love Lego in terms of like, What does they go designed for? It's not that you have to be an expert in in representing stuff. It's all about metaphors.

Andrew  

Right? Isn't life a metaphor? Now, so what would you share with us on this traditional question that we ask every guest and I'm really intrigued by your response here. What is the one overlooked place, person, book or even experience that you feel that the listeners should know about?

Ben  

Oh, the one the one that's that's really tough. Honestly, I don't know this. 

Andrew  

You can do this.

Ben  

 like go go for a place that I only discovered when I when I moved here to northeast England. So I'm originally German. It's Newton by the sea. Newton by the sea, Alnwick. Alnwick casters were part of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Newton by the seat is a wonderful, wonderful place. As you can tell from the name, it's by the sea, little cottages, they're brilliant restaurants and fantastic place like where it's just a really there's one place where you can find pieces probably there.

Allen  

So one last question before we have you share with the audience. You know, where they can learn more about yourself, the RES Forum etc. But I've just a quick thing we've been talking about duty of care today. The other side of the coin is duty of loyalty in the sense that the employee owes their company something. And I often hear us we often focus on duty of care but I've been involved in some situations where you know the company kind of expected the they play to be loyal in a certain way and were not. How often does that ever come up? Or is that kind of still rare conversation and the the scenario I had was actually a company one doing a evacuating an employee from a particular country? And the police said, No, I won't go. Okay. And they basically the company says, hold a second here, we deployed you there. We think it's unsafe, we need you out of there. And it was a huge struggle, and it was really unique experience. You know, and I wasn't immediately involved in but we were providing the health care and the evacuation services. It was a completely big eye opener to me. So don't quick comment on duty of loyalty.

Ben  

Well, duty of loyalty. Good question. So to answer your one partner, it actually never pops up. It's about the duty of care part. If you asked me if there's a duty of loyalty from an employee perspective, I would say yes, yes, to a certain extent. But then again, the move can't forget in particular developments around like all the new forms of work and protein careers and self management careers. We have beyond these times, where you basically start a job and then you retire on the same company. So it's kind of normal, if you if you switch jobs in between them. People go more from managing their corporate career, the corporate life going to managing the individual careers. I think their loyalty. Yeah, I mean, to a certain extent, Yes, they are. But I think it's a it's not a one way road. And the more that's coming from the company, the more loyal you can expect. So if you deliver the bare minimum, don't expect the extra mile.

Andrew  

Okay, so you've, you've pulled the curtain back on many topics that reference other other environments quite a bit. So where can we learn more about you, your work, and these other organisations? Will include these links, of course, in our show notes and and on our site, but those who are listening and want to immediately jump to another link, where should they go, or other links in particular?

Ben  

Well, the first and easiest thing is probably LinkedIn. So I've got my LinkedIn page. So you can reach out there. If you happen to be or considering to become a student, join Newcastle University, great university great place. Then you also need few study business, you can see me in the classroom, and I'm going to be in another life events in June 24. I think that that's open for anybody who's interested. But you can go to LinkedIn, reach out there, and I'll take it from there.

Allen  

Thank you, Ben. I you know, first off when I when I great conversation today. Also, when I think of Newcastle I think of a fine beer I used to drink quite frequently. Another great reason to think of Newcastle also, but now I really appreciate your time today, we learned a lot. Andrew, I'll go to you first on what you learned today. And then I'll hopefully come back to be at a couple things I learned and share with our audience.


Andrew  

Well, before today, I didn't know about the Lego learning system. And so that's one thing that I'm certainly going to investigate further. Um, I I do love those quiet getaways in England. I've had many that I've enjoyed. So I'll be looking into Newton by the sea.

Allen  

Yeah, you know, and a big takeaway today is for me is obviously duty of care continues to be a evolving topic. And it also is evolving as the employee-employer relationship changes. So I look forward to catching up with Benjamin again, you know, down the line because things are going to continue to change there. And it's really interesting to me. Also, to learn a little bit more about the RES Forum, RES Forum does a lot of great surveys and assignment policy. So when you go to Ben's website, or go to LinkedIn, you'll learn a lot there, too. So thank you everybody, for listening. today. We want to remind you The New Nomad is not just a podcast, but it's a community of people, ideas and spirit. We really want you to take advantage of that location independent lifestyle, please looking at us at TheNewNomad.net or InsuredNomads.com Please leave us a nice review, share the share the podcast with others. And thank you for joining us today. Cheers

Duty of Care and Lego Serious Play With Benjamin Bader | TNN22

About the Guest

Benjamin Bader

Benjamin is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in International Human Resource Management at Newcastle University Business School, UK. He is a highly qualified academic and has been published in journals such as Human Resource Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management, and Journal of International Management. Moreover, he lead an academic network funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), in which German scholars worked on topics related to Expatriate Management. Benjamin was awarded his doctoral degree (Dr. rer. pol.) in 2013 from the University of Hamburg and his first degree in Business Administration from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Benjamin has also studied at the American University in Washington, DC, and his areas of expertise include research on Expatriate Management, Diversity & Inclusion Management, as well as Top Management Team (TMT) research. Benjamin has solid experience of working in industry and has worked at Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group, Washington, DC and at the UVEX Winter Holding GmbH & Co KG in Industrial Sales and product management.