I am sure that 2020 will go down as the worst year in our lives for most of us. Covid-19 put a wrench into everyone’s plan for the year. It changed the way we thought about our jobs, our families, and everything we did. Ultimately, it changed the way we will work forever.
CTT: How 2020 Changed Work Forever! How impacted were you by these changes?
Here are what a few of those changes were:
Working remotely. I know that for many, working remotely was a dream come true. And for many others, they realized just how much they enjoy working in the office. Working from home is lonely. Working from the office creates better relationships. We know that most of us will be working from home for at least some of the time. We know many companies have announced that everyone can work at home full-time. According to Gartner Research, eight out of ten companies will allow employees to work remotely for some of the time. How does that change our relationships, our connections, our companies? They won’t need the high rise in the downtown core (which comes with high rent). We won’t need to commute to work (saves us money). We will need a dedicated space in our homes moving forward, and for everyone, that isn’t necessarily easy or feasible. Are you willing to rent/buy a bigger home so that you have a dedicated working space? Can you afford to? Can you afford not to?
Speed. Organizational culture generally doesn’t change very much or very fast. It typically adjusts slowly over a very long period of time. 2020 saw things get done very quickly. Think back to the day when you were told to work from home. Suddenly, we created a home office when the majority of us didn’t have one. We ensured connectivity, functionality, and organization, and we did that in the space of hours. Not months, weeks, or even days. It was done in an instant. Vaccines are another example. In the past, it took many years to create and distribute vaccines. The COVID vaccine’s goal was 18 months, meaning distribution by late 2021, which was considered an unreasonable goal by many. As you know, many countries have approved at least one vaccination and are distributing them already. That took months, not years or decades.
This means that the speed of culture should increase in your company too. No longer will we be able to blame the red tape, the bureaucracy, or the fact that things take a long time. I expect that we will see many companies (at least the successful ones) move faster and make decisions as needed instead of months (or years) later. I’m betting your turnaround time for your work has also decreased. We need things now. We don’t like to wait. Speed is the word for 2021.
CTT: Speed is the word for 2021.
Our watercooler is gone. It’s gone because we are working from home and the fact that we won’t be gathering to chat the same way as before even if we are in the office. That is going to impact not only our relationships, but we are likely to feel “out of the loop.” Have you complained that you don’t know what is going on at work anymore? Just this weekend, I was having a chat with my girlfriend, Gael. She shared that a large part of the sales team at her company was let go, and December 31 was their last day. She received a few “goodbye” emails, and she had no idea that anyone had been let go, let alone people on her team. She felt left out of important discussions and felt like an outsider. For admin professionals, we know that these watercooler discussions are essential to creating relationships that help get things done and finding out what is happening in and out of the organization. Many of us can share stories about how we found out essential pieces of information casually instead of being explicitly told (like we should have been).
The lack of watercooler conversations is going to impact the morale and engagement at organizations. It’s hard to feel like you belong if you are feeling left out. The irony is that most people will feel left out. We will need to discover new ways to connect, have casual conversations, and be engaged.
The final and most substantial thing that will change moving forward is how we handle or even acknowledge our team members’ mental health. For many people, the lockdown has meant social isolation, a harm many have endured in silence. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in prisons. Our team members are suffering, and not only are we unaware, but we also don’t know how to deal with it.
We need to support our team members. We need to ask if people are okay, and we need to learn what to do when they tell us they are not okay. Before the pandemic, “mental health awareness” was sometimes a slogan. Now it is a necessity.
CTT: Before the pandemic, “mental health awareness” was sometimes a slogan. Now it is a necessity.
2021 will be a pivotal year for all of us. There is no returning to the way things used to be. There is only progress, and whether you like these changes or not, we need to acknowledge them, adapt, and master them. 2020 changed work forever; don’t be left behind.
Working to bring significant changes in online-based learning by doing extensive research for course curriculum preparation, student engagements, and looking forward to the flexible education!
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