Smart Work Story With LAUFT Account Sales Manager Derek MacRae

Derek is originally from Scotland, but believes Canada is truly the place to be. With all the free time our Account Sales Manager got back this year, he became a step addict (a person who’s trying to get as many actual physical steps into their day as possible and monitors it on their phone). When he's not romping around Toronto or handing out smiles at his pharmacy job, Derek connects with people and teams who may not have heard about LAUFT, or are looking for new and innovative ways to set their teams up for success. He’s the guy that makes sense of it all and helps future clients understand how unique our concept is (after all, we’re the work-life freedom company). For Derek, to make smart work looks like being around the people he enjoys and going with the flow of where work takes him.

How would you say work has changed for you in the last year?

My situation is unique, because I wasn't all of a sudden working from home like the vast majority of people, and I’ve had another job in addition to working at LAUFT. When the pandemic began and our locations closed, I immediately started working at a pharmacy and one of the things that I really need and like is to be around people. I simply need to have that real life connection and I thrive on that in-person interaction. So I guess I was really lucky to be able to go into a setting that gave me that in spite of everything we’ve been facing in terms of isolation and lockdowns.

How do you stay motivated to do your best, smartest work?

I’m very influenced by my environment and the people around me, and that's why I’m really lucky to be working with Jesse, Graham and the LAUFT team. I think we’re able to motivate each other because we’re like minded even though we come from such different places. I also think making a difference is big for me. I’ve worked with companies before that were committed to being impactful, which is pretty unique and only a few of us get lucky enough to work for an organization that has a vision that can keep us motivated.

How do you harmonize your work life with the rest of your life?

I’ve made so many changes in my work and personal life. I’m so structured and set on having my routines, and I’m trying to get into that with work, which has been a challenge because our network has been closed and my role is to bring people into the locations. I guess I’m actually learning how to be more flexible, and I realize that working for LAUFT means I really should be living that flexibility and mindset of being able to adapt and move around. Even though for me it’s all about routine and doing things the same way everyday, I am looking forward to that changing over time and how that’s come to be as a result of my role with LAUFT.

Is there anything in particular that you love about working remotely?

I think what remote work gives me is the gift of time - the freedom to do what’s important to me. Having worked in traditional settings, I’ve experienced the 9 to 5 culture - attending meetings just to be seen and things like that. It wasn't about performance and I think that’s what remote work has changed for a lot of us. It’s all about your actual  performance and the value that you're adding. It’s about what you’re doing, instead of where you are and what you're seen to be doing.

Is there anything in particular that you find challenging about remote work?

I’ve been fortunate enough, like I said, to have a job where I’m around people. But I think one of the things that’s most challenging is not being able to separate my home life and my work life, especially while being in the same space. Sometimes it feels like it almost lessens the enjoyment of home. That’s why I really think having a third option is of such great value to people, even if it’s just once or twice a week. I think that’s where we’re making such a  great impact.

What personal strengths have you been tapping into more with all the changes you’ve experienced in the last year?

I would say that my greatest personal strength is my ability to build relationships with people. So despite what’s happened with the pandemic and stopping and starting my career, I’ve built stronger relationships with the people I work with. That’s also a testament to the culture we’re building, and to the individuals we’re bringing into what we’re trying to create at LAUFT.

How good are you at asking for help?

I think I’m pretty good at that, but that just comes from the dynamic I’m a part of. It’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to be not sure, so I don’t have a problem expressing that or asking for help from anyone on the team. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake or asking a question that I might think is stupid in my head, so I cease to be embarrassed by stuff like that.

What does mindfulness mean to you in the age of remote work?

Mindfulness is awareness of yourself and your own well-being. It’s important to make time for yourself so that you can live your best life. I know that’s a funny thing to say, but the opposite of that is not taking time for yourself and being consumed by what you're doing. We need to understand that we might make it harder to achieve our objectives in the end, if we’re not taking ourselves into consideration.

What do you think  it means to be emotionally available or emotionally aware and how important is that to your overall well being?

Really important, because it’s about being honest with the people you work with and honest with yourself. I think that’s something I’ve gotten pretty good at, and I think it’s really important that we can do that in a team setting. Whether it’s about work or our personal life, I don’t mind sharing and that means a lot to me.

Can you recommend a book or podcast to us and our readers that’s offered you inspiration and support in the last year as you’ve dealt with all of the changes we’ve been experiencing.

I was reading The Courage To Be Disliked by  Ichiro Kishimi on vacation and it was really good for me. It’s about having the courage to state your opinions and how you feel without worrying about how you’re perceived. Definitely recommend it.

How do you deal with a bad day?

I go for a long walk. When I do that, it gets rid of any kind of frustrations or feelings that I have. It's a part of my routine and I feel lucky that I found this coping mechanism that helps me deal with anxiety and stress in a way that works for me.

How do you find your mental health has changed since working remotely a majority of the time?

Well, my mind’s better than it ever has been at any other point in my life. In my 20s and 30s I didn’t have the ability to stick to a routine  and structure the way I do now. I’m fortunate that I have the freedom and space to build that for myself.

How do you make smart work?

I think making smart work and making your life work is about seeing those two things as one. So for example, if I was at LAUFT for the day to work and I took some time to chat with a friend, or do something that’s unrelated to my work while I’m in that space, that’s part of my day - and part of what it means to make smart work. It means I don’t have to feel guilty about chatting with a friend. I don’t feel stressed by either of those things because they all just relate to what I’m working toward on that day, or in that moment. I think everything is a lot more fun this way, too.

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