Has COVID-19 Created a New Solitary Norm in 2021?
Have we become more accustomed to the lone wolf atmosphere while working? As the push to reopen the country’s economy intensifies, so do feelings of dread at the idea of returning to the office. People who have never liked schmoozing with colleagues have found new heights of productivity away from meetings and office chitchat. Trying to meet on Zoom from a kitchen table with bored children and annoyed spouses complaining in the background is hardly good for productivity. Women say that video calls make it hard for them to get in a word during meetings dominated by men. Researchers warned that problem-solving and creativity suffer when workers are isolated from one another. Isolated work can lead to loneliness and boredom. CoVid-19 has robbed the ease of accessibility and social interaction that we had in the office setting. When we had that quick question or wanted to collaborate it was as easy as walking to someone’s office or meeting them at lunch. The human contact, the physicality of seeing them, watching their body language and having that engagement seemed to offer a connection unattainable online or on a conference call. One may argue the ease of dialing or hitting “enter Zoom meeting”, but those are pre-planned and lack spontaneity. While we are managing the home/work balance we are far more “scheduled” and sensitive to interrupting homeschooling, mealtime, and varied work hours.
So, has this created a more independent bravado? Are we more likely to handle things ourselves than collaborate? Has the team culture suffered a loss because of this? As a direct lead, manager or CEO have you addressed the CoVid-19 culture and effects on your team? No one got a manual or “how to” when we all were suddenly thrust home to stay. Are you still operating under “status quo” and just happy to be getting by? Assuming “once we get back” things will get better. If your team had “silos” before, just imagine how much taller they’ve become in solitary confinement.
For remote work to be successful, employers need to provide the right equipment and other support. There needs to timely check-ins and huddles to keep a pulse on the team’s efforts, collaboration, and contentedness during this undefined new norm. Workers will be looking for the “happy medium,” splitting time between remote work and showing up at the office. The hope is that the pandemic will have shown managers that workers can be trusted to do their jobs without constant supervision. Any kind of flexibility is something that people are really, really ripe for, just having some control over where and when they work.
Maybe this solitary bubble for work has given us all a softened, unfiltered, more honest version of ourselves because of all we’ve had to juggle. Maybe some silos have crumbled with the appreciation of survival and having a job through this pandemic. Maybe this new road of solitary work confinement has pushed us to navigate our jobs with new appreciation and commitment. Maybe, some alone time is just what we needed.
Team Building Unlimited offers timely workshops and coaching to pilot this new CoVid-19 norm. We all had to “reroute” in March…we are here to help with developing best practices to continue supporting your team and successes on this new route. It’s really OK to stop and ask for some directions!