What a great time to reflect on the many changes that have occurred over the past year as we were all hit with something many have referred to as “from outer space:” the COVID pandemic. Clearly it was not from outer space, but I use that terminology as it was just so “unknown” to any of us, and “unexpected” as if it actually originated from a foreign planet.
We can walk through all of the emotional reactions we and many others had starting in early February, 2020, as the pandemic became news. Without getting too political, we saw our national leadership downplaying the effect of the pandemic so the reactions were quite disparate…in fact, there are still naysayers today after 300,000 deaths and counting. But the psychological impact soon started…beginning with fear permeating the country as social distancing became a generally accepted norm, and eventually, depression as many businesses cut back, laid off, and sent many of their employees to work at home. In the early stages, work from home was more a precautions but later on through the Fall because of legal limitations on gatherings or actual business closures, it was no longer even a business choice.
Different? New? Yes, that was an “across the board” response as many had worked for years in an office and knew nothing other than that environment. It was different and there was plenty of social interaction left behind: loss of collaborative work across conference tables and throughout the office, planning lunch together and breaks, and the general atmosphere of “BUSINESS.” Also, a number of just pure “how to’s” also needed to be developed to accomplish such a physical shift in work. So, change which is generally not immediately widely accepted, met resistance. Perhaps the greater resistance came from the demands on the shifts in behavior needed at home: the TV’s blaring, the children racing through the house, laughing, screaming, crying; hello parents? Are we relating? Even without children, we had to endure the total quiet surrounding us, the TV saying “watch me” and the refrigerator staring from afar. Distractions were never ending and there was no real sense of being “at work.” Discipline fell off and anxiety somewhat set in after the “newness” departed.
Then, as if a huge awakening came upon us, many developed habits that allowed employees once again to truly have comraderie with co-employees by dialing into Zoom conference meetups with both co-employees, clients as well as other forms of technology so all became well. Rules were established regarding the kids, and the TV no longer lured one into inefficiency. In fact, across the board we are seeing a total shift in perception, and a huge acceptance of the “new normal” as a work setting.
What if you do not really want to go back into an office setting? Today that is not just a thought but a reality for millions of Americans. This “experiment” which was anything but chosen, has truly created a new way of thinking about “work” and the “work model.” Many are looking at the “office model” as defective as they would love to avoid office politics, “polite” but unnecessary communications, relationships issues, etc. A Gallup poll as early as May, 2020, revealed that the majority of American adults working from home preferred to continue doing so “as much as possible” even after the pandemic.
Studies regarding the advantages of working at home have revealed a whole flurry of benefits: less time on the road, greater productivity, a potentially cleaner environment, money saved, more job satisfaction, less sickness, more time for fitness, etc. You, as the employee if that is the position you are in (or desire to be in), will be left with one major hurdle: building the trust of that employer (as well as yourself) that your productivity will not be sacrificed. If you doubt your productivity can be maintained, you will be right. I believe that the results across the board will show the exact opposite to happen: productivity will sky rocket and it will produce an incredible WIN WIN in how we conduct business in the future. The start is NOW, and it corresponds with an already fast growing segment of our economy choosing “work from home.” That is what has been referred to as the GIG economy for the past 5-10 years so millions have already chosen the immense benefits of taking back control of their work environment as well as choices.
Adjusting to change is not always easy. The mindset is critical as when we can choose to focus on all the WINS in a given situation instead of allowing the downsides to control our minds, we will always be in a better place. So, the challenge is for any of us fighting any level of change in our lives whether or not caused by COVID or just happening around us, outline first all of the possibilities it is creating. Choose to allow an awakening to something better that is right around that next corner. It is just a choice!