It’s been a long few months with many challenges faced, not just for us, but also for the entire world. Who would have ever thought that the world would be brought to a standstill and for once, we would all be equal, equal to the wrath of Covid-19. With much trepidation, we spent the last few months unlearning our daily routines and learning to work multiple roles at the same time. Some of us, caregivers, parents, teachers, helpers and professional and business enthusiasts. On the one scale, trying to balance a brave face in the midst of uncertainty whilst grappling with fear and anxiety in our own individual cocoons.
We thought the saga would never end. For some of us, the transition was easy, for others, painstakingly unnerving. At first we scrambled around to find some order in the chaos, rearranging our homes to accommodate our make shift offices, sharing our air space with our partners and children. All competing for a fair share of the kitchen table and fighting over who was using the most data. We kicked and screamed, and pulled our hair out, resenting the pandemic for pushing us into confinement and isolated madness. How could we possibly cope under such crazy circumstances with unrealistic expectations and still maintain our sanity, trapped with the people we have a love hate relationship with and now mercilessly at their becking call? No misguided excuses or cover-ups to get away from daily responsibilities, everyone’s off limits and there’s no getting away from a new routine.
So we learn to gather the courage and embrace the day with resilience and strength. Each day, we unlearn the old habits and create new ones. We learn to accommodate, to listen, and to hear what is and isn’t being said. We learn to share and understand. We take turns to care and appreciate each other’s pressure. We make room for conversation and we finally find the time to eat together. Day by day, it gets a little easier as we become the master class of Covid-19.
Slowly we start to emerge from the shadows, hopeful of tomorrow. We appreciate our homes more; we notice things we never did before. We sip our coffee with a new appreciation for the time we have. We listen to the conversations earnestly, having learnt the value of connecting. Even though we had our moments of sheer frustration, we welcomed the challenge of bittersweet moments that brought both fatigue and triumph at the same time. For some of us, we got to do the laundry, prepare a meal, attend to school tutorials, honor our scheduled meetings, coach our teams, sit down to a family dinner together and still find the time to sneak in a quick gym workout. All of this in one day.
We relished in the time together, we spoke, we listened, some of us saved, learnt to waste less and be more appreciative. Somehow, we found simple pleasures in the most complex challenges.
And now, as we prepare for some level of normality in the return to the workplace, we are once again faced with conflicting priorities. Will we go back to the way things were? Will we lose sight of the many lessons we learnt? How can we lean into this resistance and use it to shape a new normal.
Communicate the new patterns– It’s time to agree on the new rules of engagement. The integration back to work is upon many of us but its not as easy as switching back to first gear. It is important to make decisions as a family so that there is a strong support base to carry you through the transition process. Teams should transition in a staggered approach, allowing some onsite and some remote work, enabling each other to ease the shift.
Safety, Safety, Safety– Remember to put your safety first. As workplaces prepare for the integration back into the workplace, it is still your responsibility to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Regulations are guidelines, they don’t change behaviour. It is inherent in each of us to assume the responsibility that comes with protecting each other. If anything, Covid-19 has taught us how to be mindful of everything we touch and the importance of appropriate hygiene. This should be the new order of the day.
Leadership stamina – Strong direction is needed to help teams transition from a partly virtual environment back into onsite working conditions. This calls for tough mindedness, integration capabilities amongst leaders and a high level of emotional intelligence to deal with the levels of anxiety and role ambiguity that will still be around for a long time to come.
Translutionary– the need for revolutionary transformation. The boundaries we had before has far faded from being the reality we know. Covid-19 has set us on a journey of self-discovery. It has stretched our imagination and crafted a roadmap for continuous innovation. We can no longer do the things the way we have been doing it before. We must evolve our thinking. This just didn’t happen; it had to be part of our own transcendental evolution.
Intrinsic value – is what we learnt from this experience. A value that touches the core of our being, the value for life, for family, for friends. No matter how crazy life gets, the parts we miss the most are the ones that define us the most. Its not the material possession, or the luxurious living, it’s the time we lose, the words we didn’t get to say and the life we didn’t get to live. Don’t let the hurriedness of life steal the lesson of cherished time with loved ones, doing the things that truly matter. In the end, jobs will come and go but friends and family always remains your true north.
We need to define our new normal and adjust our schedules to accommodate that. We can no longer be at the mercy of urgency or the eleventh hour of horror. This has taught us about sustainability, succession planning, continuous learning, social cohesiveness and most importantly, a sense of humanity and compassion.