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A few observations after working from home

Covid. Covid. Covid. As much as we don’t want to say it/think about it anymore, it’s still top of mind. We’ve been tried and tested—personally and professionally, physically and mentally, and all the spaces in between. In short, it’s been a weird year and a half. Everyone’s journey through this has been a little different, but the thing that keeps striking me about the last year is the authenticity. Here are a few work-related observations:

Communication is still everything

Gone were the days of random updates in the hall or over coffee in the kitchen. It became more important than ever to stay connected by sending status emails, messages via chat, and scheduling regular team syncs. We were all working remotely and there was anxiety about where everyone was at with tasks and projects. We also had to make sure that our team members were able to address personal needs, like remote education for their children. We had to communicate all these things to keep our heads above water. Initially, people overscheduled their days with meetings and syncs, but as we re-learned how to communicate, we found greater efficiencies in the different tools available to help us navigate and automate our work. Together, we found ways to balance work and life and relieve our collective anxiety about the work getting done. Check out some of my co-workers’ tips for getting more value out of the new hybrid workspace.t.

Professionalism doesn’t clash with authenticity

You are who you are and where you are. During work meetings, we’ve had household members or pets misbehaving in the background. We’d forget to mute when we had to pause to answer a kid’s question. However, we’d still put on a fresh shirt, and show up for each other respectfully and professionally when the cameras and mics were on. We started speaking to each other with greater empathy and accepted that life happens to all of us regardless of work. Nobody could completely compartmentalize and keep the private details of life from work, and we found that the background noise of life didn’t define a person’s ability to do their job. In fact, getting these glimpses into our co-workers’ lives helped emphasize the human connection that was lost without face-to-face time. In short, we all became more tolerant, forgiving, and accepting of differences.

We’re more open to diversity

Seeing and accepting each other and our human sides across our organizations broke down some of the barriers and beliefs about conformity in the workplace. The more we accepted our differences, the more we recognized and accepted our diversity. We recognized the need to address it and embrace it on a macro and micro level (internationally and amongst our peers). There’s still a lot of work that remains to be done to move the needle further toward true inclusivity, but after seeing people caring and fighting for their elderly friends and relatives, children, neighbors, and communities, I’m hopeful that we’ll make greater and greater strides toward embracing and valuing each other’s identities. My co-worker Ariella Varley has some great thoughts on how to foster inclusion with a growth mindset.

All the above being said, my biggest takeaway is that the future of work is still changing so it’s more important than ever to be authentic and to embrace the authenticity of those around us. History is being written, and how we react and what we say and do matters so that we can continue to build a culture that will accommodate our differences and ensure that everyone can be a participant.

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