We’re in a new era of the flexible work experiment: structured flexible work. To continue to work in ways that benefit both employees and organizations, leaders need to look to the data to guide decision-making around everything from when to come together in person to how to hold effective and inclusive meetings. In this series, we ask business leaders about what helps them work now—from the apps they can’t live without to the ways they separate work from life. This month we spoke to Dayana Falcon, ESPN’s talent mobility manager. Falcon strives to create opportunities for people across the company, spearheading experiences from the Career Center (an internal career development hub inspired by the company’s flagship program, SportsCenter) to the All-Star Talent Showcase, a bracket-style competition highlighting the best work from around the company.
It’s all about creating a community around career advancement, whether an employee works at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters, or at its Los Angeles office, as Falcon does. That community, she says, starts with curiosity from leaders. “Ask people where they want to create impact. Ask people what they want to do more of, what they want to do less of. Ask people what business challenges they want to solve. Don’t assume—ask.”
And, fittingly, she says that community should feel like a winning franchise. “It’s key to think about your company as a team,” she says. Here’s how she brings her A game, no matter where she’s working.
No-meeting Fridays: I go into the office four days a week, and work from home on Fridays. Friday is my no-meeting day. It’s my creative day, my catch-up-on-work day, when I close out the week and plan for the next. It’s a boundary that I’ve set to get in the right headspace.
A paper planner: I have this cool planner that has one sheet for each week. It’s not where I put all my meetings—that’s on my digital calendar. The planner is where I write down my main focus for each day. It’s the bird’s eye view of what I’m trying to accomplish that day, that week—not the deliverable, but the outcome.
Essential oils: I have an essential oil diffuser and spray. I have different oils for different things: When I need to be creative, I do citrus. When I want to be more reflective, I do tea tree. I use it to help me get grounded in the intention of whatever it is I have to accomplish that day. In the office, you can’t do candles, you can’t do essential oils. So I’ve integrated self-care into how I work.
Next-gen AI: I’m a learner by doing, and I’m experimenting with different AI tools and loving it. I use it as inspiration: “I’m trying to say all these things, what’s a better way to say them?” Or, “I’m trying to do research on these things, and here’s what I have so far. What am I missing?” I’m using it to help fill gaps and go deep into a subject in a very short amount of time.
LinkedIn: I’ll search LinkedIn by location and by people that work at my company, and I’ll find someone in the Brazil office to connect with and learn from. We could do this before the pandemic, but I think because we were so present in the office, people were more inclined to do projects with those in the close vicinity. Now, we can have a global mindset—and that opens up so many opportunities. It’s important to not work in silos, and technology lets us reach completely new networks and redesign the way we work across locations.
A garden oasis: I get inspired in nature, and I do my best work outside with sunshine on my face. Choosing where I work has been a game changer for my creativity. When I’m working at home, I do my creative work outside in my beautiful garden. It feels like a Snow White garden because of all the birds chirping.