From Workplace Exhaustion to Human Vitality: Finding White Space (feat. Juliet Funt)

Apr 4, 2023

Organizations crush their employees with emails, meetings, decks, reports and paperwork all day long while expecting vitality and meaningful contribution.




White space, or the time in between tasks where you can think, reflect, recuperate, and question, has been crowded out. It is this unscheduled time that allows talent to tap into their creativity, productivity, and ultimately their full potential.


Juliet Funt is a keynote speaker and an evangelist for freeing the potential of companies by unburdening their talent from busy work. For over 20 years Juliet has studied productivity and today she discusses how to reclaim creativity and conquer busyness with teams on The Enlightened Executive podcast.


From prioritizing white space to adopting an empathetic posture, in this episode Juliet shares 3 essential strategies for maintaining human vitality in the workplace, despite the challenges facing today’s economy. 


3 Strategies for Maintaining Human Vitality

According to Juliet, it’s a dire time for human vitality at work, which should be concerning to leaders from a personal and professional standpoint. Here are 3 strategies we can begin implementing today to respond to the reality of the current human weariness.


  • Minimize Busyness – Busy work, like paperwork, reporting and workplace formalities fill the majority of our schedules. By reducing these elements, you can create space for the meaningful contributions that are produced in white space.
  • Schedule White Space – Lead by example and encourage your team members to block off chunks of time throughout the week for reflection, deep thinking and pondering. This must be considered an essential business practice, not a “nice to have.”
  • Adopt an Empathic Posture – During the pandemic, businesses responded to the developing challenges without hesitation while people experienced the burnout of a zoom-centric workplace. As business continues as usual, it’s essential that we approach our people with empathy, check-in on mental health, and consider the humanity behind the work.


Why You Should Prioritize White Space in the Workplace

Though there are many personal benefits to prioritizing white space, we need to recognize that it is also essential for maintaining productivity and sustainably cultivating top talent. 


Businesses transitioned into pandemic and post-pandemic work conditions without pause. Larger and mid-sized companies pushed through challenges in real-time, and now we’re facing the realities of a recession, budget cuts, and layoffs. 


As leaders, we cannot continue to adapt to these conditions without considering the actual human beings responding to these pivots. Human vitality is at a low, meaning productivity and creativity is too – something Juliet believes can be remedied with white space. 


Juliet uses a metaphor of building a fire. If you build a fire, you need a few ingredients including the fire starter and fuel. But if you overlook one foundational ingredient, your fire will never ignite. And that ingredient is space. It’s the space between those combustibles that allows a fire to ignite and actually draws a spark into a flame.


As Juliet explains, the same is true for creativity, productivity, or drawing out the best from our talent. We must learn to oxygenate our people if we expect them to continue producing and creating their best work. 


Juliet also shares…

  • Measurable pre and post data confirms work can be made lighter without impacting productivity.
  • Optimizing time increases output and improves results.
  • Making the workplace more humane encourages creativity and vitality.


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