For many employees, the work-from-anywhere world has brought about a change in pace. Gone are the twice-daily commutes and the short walks between meetings. But when those small moments of silence that punctuated our day are missing, it’s harder to find time for ourselves to decompress.

Anthea Ong, Founder of Hush TeaBar, joins us for the Future of Work, Now podcast, to talk about why it’s so important to recapture those moments and opportunities for reflection. 

Anthea also shares how Hush TeaBar is bringing silence to the workplace with its diverse team of employees. The team includes individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, and living with mental health conditions. 

Here are some highlights from the conversation, including tips on how we can look after ourselves and others in the workplace:


Tell us why you started Hush TeaBar.

Hush TeaBar started six years ago and it was really a social experiment. People were experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, especially in the workplace. I myself was saved by silence after a personal collapse. I felt a calling to bring silence to the workplace as a way of supporting employee wellbeing and self-connection. 

I also saw that it was a challenge for those who were deaf, hard of hearing, or living with mental health conditions to find empowering and sustainable work.

It was by bringing all of those things together that Hush TeaBar was born.


We often focus on the importance of communication and listening in the workplace. Why is silence so important?

There’s a concept that connection and communication is very much based on words and spoken words. But I would challenge that because, when we speak, we are not necessarily connecting. Someone once said that “if you never understand my silence, you will never understand my words”. We sometimes hide behind our words whereas when we are silent, we come back to a truer place of who we are. 

It is important in the workplace that employees are not so caught up in following orders that they never have a moment for planning, processing, or reflecting. You need that reflection for feedback, improvement, and engagement. Engagement in particular is a key factor in performance and wellbeing.


How have you been able to bring silence into the workplace during the pandemic?

I thought we might have to close down as everything we did in the past was in-person. However, I challenged the team to find a way for us to operate online and we did it. We created Hush+ anywhere, which is a digital experience where we guide people through four zones. These include intention, silence, expression through art, and sharing. 

The last zone is the most powerful and helps to change the team culture because it is where colleagues share their experiences and human emotions.


Do you think it is imperative for us to be more conscious of our emotions right now and be more aware of when we need to take a break?

Yes, I do. Many people are experiencing crisis fatigue, which has an impact on mental health. We must not think that everything is back to normal. We are working longer and harder than we ever have, and the back-to-back video calls are not going away. 

It is therefore very important that we bring mental health awareness into the workplace in no uncertain terms. Leaders need to create deliberate spaces where employees feel safe to talk about mental health. We also have a responsibility as leaders to ensure that employees are adequately supported and that work stress does not affect the family. This is important as many people no longer have a commute or break between work and home life to decompress. 

For ourselves, we need to remember there is no health without mental health. All of us have had times where we’ve felt challenged and the earlier we seek help, the better. This is one area where we need to break the silence and remove the stigma that prevents people from seeking help.


Listen to the podcast to learn more about Hush TeaBar and the benefits of silence in the workplace. 

Access the podcast on demand at our podcasts page, Spotify, and iTunes. You can also listen over at the Singapore Community Radio Twitch page, Facebook page, and website

Our new season on the Digital Imperative is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. SGT Friday, February 26. Tune in to hear from Peter Schwartz, American futurist, innovator, author, co-founder of the Global Business Network, and SVP of Strategic Planning for Salesforce.

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