First published 8th April 2020 medium.com
I am sat at my kitchen table having cleared my work desk to clean and make way for a less overwhelming environment. My personal space is super important to me. I work for myself, mostly by myself, live with Cecilie and Leonard (2 cats) and a few hundred bees in a hive in my back garden. I am used to being on my own, actually I LOVE being on my own and having control over whom and when I spend time with people. The idea of living with others fills me with dread. I know myself well enough. I am still discovering new possibilities for how and who I am. We all change. Everyone has the capacity to adapt. If I were fighting for a cause that I believed in wholeheartedly requiring me to live with others then my value drivers would kick in and I would adapt. Healthy adaptation even with the pain this would, no doubt, cause me.
What if those value drivers were not there? What happens if I were forced to live with others against my will? This got me thinking about how many people are currently in forced isolation, working remotely, perhaps living alone or with people they don’t particularly like. Maybe living in abusive situations having no escape, 24/7 with the perpetrator/s. I worry about this. I worry for people. Employers who are trying their best to keep their businesses going during this time are inadvertently contributing to the trauma of their people. Providing remote access to employees to continue in their roles with daily or weekly team meetings “business as usual” approach is short-sighted and dangerous. How do you take care of people’s emotional well being? How do you support remote working in the broader sense? What about the extroverts, the go-getters, your best sales people who thrive off human interaction and exceed their targets every month? They will be suffering, their mental and physical health will be deteriorating. A culture that encourages denial will result in future problems. It’s time to get authentic and embrace the messiness of being human.
It’s not enough to provide the technology, to just expect people to get on with it, not unless you are willing to neglect your people, to contribute to their traumatic experience at this time and have a workforce that has long-term sickness when this is all over. The likely impact of this on everyone will last for many years. Everyone needs to develop emotional/psychological flexibility. All of us need help to get through this period and minimise the long term impact on mental and physical health. Support is important as is flexibility!
Get support for yourself, find a way to plan for the next 2 or more years. Now is not the time for ‘old school’ thinking. See this as a long-term opportunity to adapt and change your business model. Do not wait for others to take the lead. If your business model is not sustainable change it. Imagine a future that is focused on human capital, making thriving people the core of your business over financial profit. The profit will come at you in unexpected ways.
For your employees, change it up get flexible, listen, take notice, this is a time to have them lead, shine and feel valued. Consult with them. Expect less hours from them, not less creativity or productivity. Get them to help you design a new way of thinking, being and doing your business. Flex, stretch, breath. Let go of control. The game has changed. The world is a different place, you have the power and opportunity to have a healthier, happier life. Stop thinking, start being and see what shows up.