In this new series, we ask executives about what helps them hybrid—from the apps they can’t live without to the ways they separate work from life. First up is Alan Morales, Prudential’s head of transformative change. Morales, who joined the insurance giant just months before the pandemic upended work, helps Prudential’s more than 40,000 employees navigate transformation. (You could say he’s been busy over the past two and a half years.)
“The concept of ‘this is my professional life, this is my personal life’ is no longer a paradigm,” he says. Now that both are so interwoven, understanding the personal perspectives his colleagues bring to their work is essential for helping them through shifts both big and small. “The way you get people to think differently about something is to get close to them and build trust so that they are willing to take risks as they embark on that change.” Here’s what helps him do it.
Morning meditations : When I wake up, sometimes I’m a little nervous. I’m thinking about the meetings I have, what I need to work on. What helps me focus is taking a step back. Every morning when I shower, I meditate for a few minutes. Something about the water calms me and allows me to clear my headspace. I use that time to really focus on my awareness of things versus digging into the things themselves, so that once I’m done with that and I hit the laptop, I’m very focused on what I need to spend my time on.
A self-cleaning water bottle : It’s a water bottle that uses infrared light to sanitize it, so you have really clean water. I really like it. First of all, it keeps it very cold, and it keeps it clean. It’s something that I’ve started to use a lot more in the post-pandemic world. At the office, I’d just go to the water fountain. But at home, this is how I stay hydrated.
The perfectly sized pen : There’s a different cognitive process when I write. It triggers a different way of processing information; it’s so boundless that it helps me really ideate. I’m particular about my pens. The point on this one is the right size—it’s not too small where I feel like I’m going to break it, but not too thick where I feel like I’m writing in Comic Sans. At the end of the day, I’ll go through what I’ve written and capture it digitally. But there’s something about starting with pen and paper first.
“If you don’t draw the boundaries, you’ll never really take care of yourself.”
Queen Pizza : I love this pizza shop. It’s right near the Prudential offices in Newark, and a lot of Prudential people go there. When I’m at the office, I’m just jonesing for it. And then I’ll bring people along with me. We hired a bunch of people during the last two years who hadn’t even been to Newark, or some who were working away from Newark pre-pandemic and haven’t been in so long. So I make sure to bring them to Queen’s. It’s a nice experience to just gather around food—good food—and build connections with people.
Outlook calendar : I use it for everything. I put in my dentist appointments, my dinner dates, vacations, blocks of time to get work done. If you don’t draw the boundaries, you’ll never really take care of yourself. In flexible work, I use my calendar way more than I did before. I’ll say, this is my gym time, or this is when I need to think about something. It’s taught me to say no—and that that’s okay.
Walls : When we first started working remotely, my partner and I lived in a loft apartment. There was only one door with walls, and it was the bathroom. Sometimes I’d have to take calls in the bathroom, and sometimes they were high-profile conversations with executives. People started making jokes like, “Alan’s in the bathroom again.” There’s a rapport that you get out of sharing that behind-the-scenes experience that really helps in driving change.