Lockdowns are lifting, restrictions on movement are easing – so things are going back to normal? Or will they? We started our discussion with the question: What have we learnt?
What are we doing now that we’d like to bring back to the office?

Many people are looking forward to going back to the office – and perhaps returning to the “old normal” – even though we complained a lot about it, now it seems like something we miss.
Is this the grief of something lost – that we won’t be returning to anytime soon?

A few weeks earlier we had positively discussed the opportunity to change to more flexible ways of working – but this week there was a notable change. Can we just go back to the way things were?
That’s not to say remote working wasn’t an option or part of that, but we noted a level of fatigue that was starting to appear.
Fatigue of constant Zoom meetings – does every meeting have to be a video conference. Does every meeting have to be an hour? One of our participants shared his strategy of scheduling shorter, random time meetings – like 17 minutes or 23 minutes. The rest of the group actively took this strategy onboard – we’ll report back how that worked next week.

Fatigue of collaboration – or rather the expectation of constantly collaborating, where that may not even be necessary to get the work done. There’s a sense of demonstrating that you’re actually working, while trying to prove you’re contributing as well.

Fatigue of juggling and managing the complex at home environments. Although the shared experiences we were all going through enabled the levels of tolerance and understanding of others, it was starting to show some cracks. I think it was this aspect in particular that was creating the feeling of loss and desire to return to normalcy. We explored some of these issues.

One thing we all agreed on – uncertainty is the new normal for the foreseeable future.

So what aspects of our current work did we want to take with us? Flexibility was going to be the key – the change in when and how work gets done.

But it also provided us with the experience of evaluating how things are being done through a new lens. Examples shared included how to manage all-hands meeting when distributed teams can’t get together. Whole day sessions are no longer an option – can you imagine a whole day on a Zoom video??!! What we have learnt from our lockdown experiences is how we need to rethink what we were trying to achieve, what can we replicate via technologies and what alternatives we could re-design – in some cases it may even be an improved approach.

We also examined performance management and pondered how or if this would change on a return to previous ways of working. While there’s a level of tolerance (mostly) about what is currently being done and when, there was still a feeling that management practices were so entrenched in metrics and outputs that this may not be something that changes easily. However, the general opinion was, under current and ongoing future circumstances, that this would need to change in some way.

The conversation ebbed and flowed through these topics and varied experiences of the group. We noted that depending on your city, country, global region everyone’s perspectives were being influenced by the severity (or lack of) of restrictions and impact of the numbers. There’s some really useful resources being shared by the group and a shared intention that we can re-assess and re-invent new ways of working – collectively to navigate our ways through this crisis.

This short video from Esther Perel resonates with many of the topics around anxiety, grief, loss and coping.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/opinion/esther-perel-coronavirus.html

This week we’re going to continue on the theme of reflecting on what we’ve learned and consider if or how we create guidelines for future situations like this – as we all expect the possibility of recurrence in the short term, at least.

Join us to contribute to the conversations and share you experiences – RSVP here!


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