COVID-19: Understanding The New Normal At Work
For a number of us, finding that consistency to exist, stay motivated, positive and inspire others, during such trying times of uncertainty, can seem difficult to achieve.
As we grow accustomed to extended lockdowns, zoom meetings, house parties on an app, yoga online, rationing groceries in our kitchen, working through trying internet bandwidth and managing ‘life’ from home not just ‘work’ from home, our behavior and rituals seem to be making a significant shift, and perhaps for the long-run.
The initial period saw us thrown into the deep end, where we had to learn to swim almost instantaneously. It forced us to adopt a whole new modus operandi, without preparation, and find a new normal for ourselves, our teams, and our families. For humanity accustomed to life-on-the-go, with everything in excess, being told to stop, streamline and reset was perhaps one of the hardest requests that could have been made. And overwhelming for a number of us, to say the least.
As we go into lockdown extensions and start accepting that the concept of ‘normal’ as we know it could perhaps be something quite different than the life we have known so far, our own individual saboteurs or limiting beliefs tend to come to the forefront. In a number of clients, we see these extension periods as an oscillation between feeling overstimulated to feeling slack.
For a number of us, finding that consistency to exist, stay motivated, positive and inspire others, during such trying times of uncertainty, can seem difficult to achieve. And even the best of us, with all the right tools, can struggle to understand or make sense of this test that we are being put through.
Change in itself is difficult, but change at such magnitude and with this level of real and perceived impact can be challenging, to say the least. And it is important to acknowledge that managing, accepting and handling change differs by individual.
As a leadership and performance coach, I see a variety of ways in which a number of our clients are responding to, managing and making sense of this change to their way of work.
Here are some common shifts that we can see emerge a few weeks into lockdown:
1. Being Tolerant: As each one of us tries to balance competing interests in our work and life, there is a growing sense of tolerance that’s emerging across the workplace. Whether it’s when your kid disrupts a video conversation or when the video buffers or internet collapses during a webinar or client pitch. Or when your spouse or parent sends you on an emergency grocery run during work hours. The world of ‘life from home’ has created a common platform of challenges and almost makes our colleagues more human. This, in turn, has shifted the expectation of ‘perfection’ making us focus more on empathy and being understanding.
2. Integrating in Silos: With each person in a team or organization operating from their own home, the value of the system over the individual becomes particularly relevant. Collaborating while working in a silo requires each one of us to buy-in to the larger organizational purpose, imbibe core components of our culture, live the values and make it less about us but more about the collective. It also requires greater trust and accountability from each team member. For organizations and leaders, dialing up the communication and finding ways to simulate the fun components of the workplace- coffee catchups, office chat, Friday lunches, can ensure greater integration during work from home.
3. Doing More with Less: With fewer resources at our disposal, teams and organizations are being forced to continue to perform and be productive with what is readily available. As we ration our kitchen cupboards and realize we can streamline consumption, in the same way at work we can easily assess what is most required to do our jobs. This will enable us to manage costs, provide greater working flexibility to our employees and encourage the use of productivity tools and techniques to improve efficiency.
4. Becoming Creative: In an uncertain and constantly disruptive world, finding new solutions to evolving problems requires innovation across the board. Adopting a mindset of adaptability, flexibility and creativity have never been more relevant than it is today. If your traditional processes or business lines or hierarchies are being rendered ineffective, its perhaps time to change the mindset, the dialogue and approach to stay relevant.
5. Getting Organized for Greater Balance: As people navigate work and life, there is a greater requirement to prioritize, plan and respect each individual’s time. In a work from home culture, there is limited opportunity for ad-hoc meetings or conversations, and hence an emphasis on pre-scheduling and trusting that people will complete their tasks. Being organized and better planned will ensure that there is greater clarity, better management, more team reliance and more time for people to balance work and focus on their well-being. All essential for high productivity and performance.
Remember, during trying times like these we are all trying to fix the car while driving it. Ensuring our new normal has a bit more empathy, understanding, and appreciation of first ourselves and then others will only serve to benefit each one us and humanity at large.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house