And why it’s important for companies to understand what their employee’s expectations will be.
In a live video interview last week, the reclusive photographer and writer Sally Mann was asked “how’s life these days?”.
She tells Sarah Meister, the photography curator at The Museum of Modern Art this:
“It’s pretty much the same as it always is for me. I’ve been social distancing for 20 years. Virtually nothing has changed, except there is a line at the ABC store (liquor store in the US) and the feed store (Mann lives on a farm).”
For some – the lockdown has not been a huge stretch.
However, for the vast majority of us – it has. We all have a feeling that things will be very different after we emerge from COVID-19. Rarely have we been given the opportunity to reshape our world.
Will we emerge a better society?
Can we have stronger family togetherness?
Will we experience more work flexibility?
We wanted to understand from our own ADAPTOVATE employees what recovery will mean to them personally and professionally. We are fortunate to have a diverse workforce, with varied age, gender and ethnicity. This diverse cohort of employees can provide us a global understanding of recovery.
By understanding what recovery means to them, will assist us as company respond in kind to ensure their expectations are heard. ADAPTOVATE will remain sensitive to the lessons learned from the experience, both as a business, but also how it has impacted our people.
THE LINES WILL BE BLURRED.
“I think recovery will be such a slow and gradual process that the lines between C-19 lockdown and a “new normal” will be absolutely blurred. “say Mark Barber, Project Lead from our Australian office.
For Mark’s children he wants to “see their lives start to incorporate some form of co-located interaction with their peers albeit whilst still maintaining social distancing and good hygiene. This will likely come in the form of a staggered return to school and eventually the recommencement of sporting activities, though the latter is likely still a long way off.”
For ADAPTOVATE we are acutely aware that the responsibilities of our parents in our team are not going to suddenly switch off overnight. We will be easing into this transition to ensure our parents like Mark are supported.
CONTINUING TO WORK REMOTELY – EFFECTIVELY
The lockdown showcases the power we have to work collaboratively while not being physically together in the office.
Benny Ko is an Agile consultant with ADAPTOVATE in Melbourne. He believes “the world will be very different after COVID-19. We will embed working from home into our work routine and continue to embrace online tools we have used during the lockdown. I have always believed we can always stay connected and continue to work together even being in different countries and time zones.”
Mark says “Professionally, I would like to see important lessons about flexibility and work-life balance incorporated into working life way beyond recovery. We have shown ourselves that we can make remote and flexible working successful, and even though we (ADAPTOVATE) have been working in this way for quite some time, a lot of our clients have not.
“I hope this has been a revelation for all of them and we will have the opportunity to keep driving the improvements in this space as we have done during the lockdown.”
For ADAPTOVATE it will be our experience in dealing with remote working teams well prior to COVID that will assist in ensuring our teams are set up for success with clients who choose to continue expanding their flexible working arrangements well beyond the current crisis.
TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED
“Equally though, this has also highlighted just how valuable face-to-face communication is, especially when you need to build strong rapport and empathy quickly.” Mark says. “To this, I will not take co-location for granted and ensure that the time I do have with people face-to-face will be used effectively and add value to everyone.” He explains.
The lockdown has exposed what we “wish we’d done”. Now whether we do it or not post COVID will be yet to be seen. For Shilen Modi – an associate in Sydney he intends “Going out and exploring new places and parts of Sydney!”
“For me it will likely mean more time seeing friends/family, more time traveling, and hopefully some freshly shucked oysters overlooking the ocean.” Says Kayla Cartwright from our US office.
Mina Gurgis from our Australian team simply says “COVID-19 has made me appreciate little things I took for granted, so I’m thankful for this eye-opening experience.”
For Steve Walton, a consultant from Melbourne, he had an experience last year that prepared him. “I am someone who rarely spent time by themselves”. He says. “However, after spending most of last year working on the other side of the world, away from love ones and now spending time in lockdown I am a subtly different person, in a few ways.
Steve believes he’s better at being by himself. He explains “Not being around others telling you what they think you are and should be, removes a lot of noise. The result is a more comfortable, confident and fun me.
Another change for Steve has been exercise “The outdoors has more value to me. I have never been or will be an “outdoorsy” person.” He says. Surprisingly, Steve has discovered cycling is not as bad as he always thought it was. “I am going to relax into this epiphany and see where it goes!”.
FOR ADAPTOVATE we will ensure that our teams are given space and the opportunity to properly connect and rebond in person when the time comes. We know that this is really important, and opportunity needs to be given to this.
KEEPING FAMILIES CONNECTED
Mark says “For me personally, it has also put a lot of things in perspective – such as the importance of family and the support we can provide one another in times of uncertainty”
It’s been one of the positives from lockdown. We’ve all had to step up to the digital plate and learn how to connect virtually. The explosive rise of ZOOM and similar tools have allowed all parts of our society to stay connected. Grandchildren with Grandparents. Families living in different cities. (TBH different houses has all it’s taken).
For Shilen – who originates from the UK – he’s been more connected to his family since lockdown because of Zoom. He’s hoping “we all stick with it!”
“I have connected with my family on a different level, but my kids crave routine and we are all ready to go back!!!” says Laura Scott, a senior consultant from our Australian office.
At ADAPTOVATE we will be looking at ways where we can encourage more family connection, than prior. It’s been one of the unforeseen positives coming out of COVID-19 crisis. The western world somewhere lost its way with ‘the meaning of family’. We’ve been so busy providing for family, that the ‘spending time with family’ may have fallen behind. We are hoping that will be change post COVID.
WORKING FROM HOME – BUT IN MEASURED AMOUNTS.
For many, working from home wasn’t an option before. Be it because of organisational pressures or trust issues, the type of work, or perhaps for some (extraverts) it wasn’t something to be considered.
However, as COVID-19 took hold, and working from home became the rule, not the ask, the majority of organisations have seen first-hand that their employees have not only embraced it, they’ve done it professionally and with productivity. The concern is now – that people are overworked.
Bloomberg reported late April that the Pandemic Workday has “obliterated work-life balance”. Perhaps that’s extreme, but something to watch out for.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, believes that “Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021”
As their articles says “The research also shows that managers who have worked at home themselves are more likely to endorse it for others. Their worries about lost productivity go away. As they and their people get used to using virtual tools, their worries about not being able to collaborate are proven wrong.”
So, a more balanced, flexible, part-time working from home scenario seems to be on the cards. At ADAPTOVATE we have always supported working from home in all it’s variations. However, at this time it’s been essential for us that we keep a close eye on the mental health of our employees. To that end we’ve fast tracked policies in our own workplace which will now be in place for the back-to-normal future.
MORE EMPATHY IN OUR BUSINESS AND DAILY LIVES
In their article on BrinkNews, Ilya Bonic and Kate Bravery asked this question: “Will Companies Remain Empathetic After the Coronavirus?” We want to ask the same question, but via a different perspective. If, as individuals we find more empathy in our daily lives post COVID, will that organically impact how companies run?
Nate Nelson – our MD in the US says “I have an amazing amount of appreciation for the humane acts of family and co-worker’s. Perhaps” he says, “we’ll see more empathy in our daily lives.”
It’s long been seen as good corporate practice for businesses to show empathy in the workplace. Putting it truly into action, is another thing. COVID-19 has allowed the freedom for companies to do this a little more authentically than ever before. We hope this results in more permanent empathy hard wired into company practice.
WHAT HAPPENS TO PHYSICAL CONTACT?
It’s been a huge revelation. How much can pass between us with a simple physical contact like handshakes. Ray Freeman from our US office says “One of the things I will do differently is to continue limiting how much physical contact I have with people. And, I’ll remain conscious that when others wish to avoid physical contact with me, it’s not personal.
“Recovery for me, is a time when people feel comfortable greeting each other again. Handshakes, hugs, even fist bumps may become things of the past.” Says Ray.
In a recent article in Discover Magazine it states “In the wake of COVID-19, certain habits we’ve adapted will likely stick around as well, says Kate White, a behavioural scientist at the University of British Columbia. “Our vigilance around things like disinfecting surfaces — that’s probably going to continue,” she says.”
Our new ways of interacting with each other — “live long and prosper” salutes instead of handshakes, video chats instead of conference-room huddles — are also likely to stick to some degree.” Kate says.
Ray explains “This pandemic has definitely changed the way I greet people. Making more eye contact, hand-waving and head-nodding are more important than ever, especially when my usual smile is covered up by a mask.”
Kayla says there will be adjustment to this new way of behaving. “With social distancing likely to remain intact for some time, it will be an adjustment to not greet people with the typical hug and cheek kiss that I became accustomed to living and working in Latin America.
Mina Gurgis is looking forward to restoring physical face to face interactions again. He says “Personally, I want to return back to my community services that I can’t participate in now due to the current restrictions. He continues “From a family perspective, I want my dad to be with us and celebrate my graduation together with the rest of the family.
Laura Scott – from our Australian office says “Personally I will be able to do what I love and go and share a coffee with a friend and exercise together.
WORKING – TOGETHER AGAIN IN PERSON – WE MISS IT!
“I look forward to increased authenticity and vulnerability. Especially when working with individuals at all levels, since we all have this shared experience.” Kayla says.
“In terms of work, I want to go back to the office. I want to have those unscheduled chitchats with people around me.” Says Mina
Laura agrees “Work life will hopefully move slowing back to the office. I’m really looking forward to connecting with our team and my client face to face again. We have all truly realised the value of face to face in this time.
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