What we walked away from a year ago is coming back—NORMAL! And, if you believe that, I’ve got some land to sell you—never mind the mosquitos, it’ll be buildable in 10-100 years. If you are looking for what was normal before 2020, you’re going to have to look in textbooks. Normal as we know it is not coming back. This is probably not news to you. As everything else this past year, how we do business is different, presenting us with a new normal that will require you to show up and lead in new and different ways. Are you ready?
The Future is Here
Pre-COVID, people worked either in the office or from home with very little in between. All Zoom meeting participants were virtual during the pandemic, not just the few who were out of the office on a given day. As we look at our new normal, hybrid is not just vernacular in a new car commercial, it is how we will get things accomplished. The way we’ve worked over the past year has changed us. We’ve learned to schedule brainstorming sessions with work teams and virtual doctor’s appointments back-to-back. We take business calls and parent-teacher conferences the same way. This is the way we live now.
We’ve adapted our way of working to this hybrid. Work-life balance became more than an aspirational goal we were working towards, it became necessity almost overnight. We’re going to look at how we did things with humor and possibly some amazement from now on. We’ve grown more efficient and economical through adaptation. How we show up has changed and along with it our expectations for those around us. Don’t look but while our workspaces have become smaller, the business world has become much larger.
Work-Life Hybrid Impact
Let’s be honest. We had concerns about what letting our teams work remotely would bring. A year into the new normal, take an honest look at your concerns vs. reality. This is going to be the first step towards learning to lead from now on. Consider the following criteria:
- Did the work get done?
- Was quality lost?
- What were the distractions you noticed?
There are many sayings out there about how to find the strength in a person or team; tea bags and water, bending and breaking, not needing strength until you did. Pick your favorite and think about this:
- How did your team adapt to the challenges of remote work?
- Did the ability to be in new spaces change the work that was done?
- What new things did you see in your team, be it one employee, some of them, or all of them?
If you know me, you know that I am always encouraging leaders to look for unseen abilities and ways to be more inclusive. Sure, a global pandemic wasn’t the ideal way to expose these benefits, but here we are—and how you analyze the work being done in this hybrid world is critical. Maybe Jeanette’s wife making her lunch every day allowed her to mentor a new coworker. While Zoom calls have become tiresome, they have also opened windows into one another’s lives outside the cubicle. A camera fail may have outed John as a pajama pants wearing worker; hey, if he is comfortable and turning in quality work, who is going to require poly blend pants?
Out of Pain—Progress
COVID exposed a lot for us: fears, flaws, opportunities, and success. As a leader, if you’re looking to get things back to what was normal, you’re going to be left behind. We’ve been moved into the future, a future that is a hybrid of what was and what can be. If you continue to look for what you had or what your expectations were, you’re going to be disappointed—and so is your team. Each organization had different challenges so there is no one way to address the needed adaptations. This is where your leadership can shine! Take full advantage of this chance to give your company a new way into the future that takes into account what was, what happened, and how you can innovate to meet the new challenges! Are you ready? You’d better be!
- Be honest in your analysis of pandemic time work
- Reframe your definitions of success to include ways to be successful using the newfound strengths of your team
- Recognize that pandemic opened the window to the new normal, allowing us to tap into the holistic person