Water Cooler Moments – Britt Andreatta, PhD | Former Chief Learning Officer, Lynda.com

Britt Andreatta, PhD (former Chief Learning Officer at Lynda.com, now LinkedIn Learning) joined us for this quick async interview. Dr. Andreatta officially joined Voodle as our Chief Science Officer last month, a part-time advisory role as she continues to transform teams with her primary work – training and speaking on brain-based solutions to today’s challenges. We couldn’t be more stoked!

In this #WaterCoolerMoment, she breaks down how video works with our brains to make us feel connected at work. She shares insight on the importance of preserving psychological safety in the workplace. Then, she’s got some quick tips on how to best use and create short async video to connect remote teams! Watch below for a snapshot of the impact of neuroscience on the future of work.

Transcript for Psychological Safety and Connection at Work Interview

CARLY: Hey, Britt it’s Carly, I’ve got a couple of questions for you and to start us off, can you please show us where you’re working from today?

BRITT: Hey, there I am working from my office here in Santa Barbara, California.

So here is the little space that I rent out. And it has a beautiful view of the mountains, which I’m very, very happy with. And it’s a lovely day here. End of June, getting ready for summer.

CARLY: From a brain science perspective, how can video help us feel more connected, and is there anything to watch out for with video?

BRITT: Video can make us feel more connected because when we see each other and hear each other, we have all the bio data that our brain needs to read, emotion and other people.

So right now, you have the experience of me making eye contact with you because I’m looking into the camera. You’re seeing my facial expressions, you’re hearing my tone of voice. And that gives you a lot more information about my intent and my feelings and what I’m trying to convey. So it helps us feel more connected. 

We actually see and hear each other not quite like we’re in person, but certainly better than text on a screen. Only thing to watch out for in video is just, you know, it’s only as good as the quality of your lighting and your sound. So if the lighting is bad or your sound is really muffling, your message doesn’t come through as clearly. 

But video is a great way to make us feel more connected, particularly when we cannot be in person.  And it just gives us so much more information that our brain really needs to communicate effectively. 

CARLY: My next question is, what is a key thing that managers of distributed teams need to keep in mind about psychological safety over time in a digital workplace?

BRITT: Managers of any team need to know that psychological safety is the key, most important thing you need to create on your team. That’s a feeling that people will not be punished, rejected, or critiqued for coming up with questions, concerns, mistakes. Those kinds of things. 

So psychological safety is something you want to create. It’s super important. But when we’re in a distributed workforce, what it means is we need to actually create more points of connection. Because psychological safety is built on a lot of those watercooler moments. Where you are talking about your dog, or what happened on the weekend. And when we’re distributed, we don’t have those as easily at our fingertips.

So to create more psych safety when you’re distributed, you need to double down on more points of connection. More get to know your activities, more time for interpersonal conversation and connection. So if you do that, you counterbalance the effect of distributed work.

CARLY: And then, last but not least, can you give us a snapshot of how your studies have impacted your own life? Thanks so much. 

BRITT: I am a lifelong learner and a total neuroscience geek. So every time I learn something new, it changes my life in some way. So when I wrote the book on How We Learn Better, I changed how I learned so that I align my own learning practices with what will maximize my brain.

When I go through change now I use a lot of the research that I did on what happens to us when we go through change. We’re wired to resist it and we need a lot of information to settle down our biology because change is ultimately threatening. [There are] things we can do to lean in and adapt.

So I use that in my own life. I used it heavily during the pandemic, and I still use it. And I use it when I think about my own teams and then the research I did on teams. I’m really mindful about psychological safety, how to create that, and paying attention to the signs that teams maybe need a little boost.

So, yeah, I use all of the things I learn and I use them myself.

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