We spent a full year grappling with high levels of uncertainty from life to livelihood. What is, however, certain is that we will emerge much stronger on the other side of the pandemic. It is this indomitable spirit embodied in mankind where we place our confidence to overcome challenges and inspire new ways of doing things.
So what were the common scenes in most households of the pandemic world? Take Christopher for instance. Christopher works in a large financial services conglomerate. Chris likes to have a hearty breakfast in the morning before he leaves for work. He has peers with whom he can share a quick joke and competitors who are envious of his growth. Chris comes back home in the evening, takes a bite, and then goes for a walk. Post workout, he cooks his dinner and spends quality family time. He reads a page or two from his favourite journal before dozing off.
2020, on the other hand, was all about waking up with meeting invites, having breakfast alongside calls, working late nights with no time of recess, having late dinners and sleeping past midnight. Believe it or not, most of those who retained our jobs had to face the fear of losing every day. We worked harder to prove our merit to save our jobs. All this has come at a cost. We lost sleep, missed family huddles, fun Fridays at the workplace, team outings, movie catch-ups and the list goes on.
In between all the hustle, time kept rolling and we are already into a fresh, new year. So, as professionals of a pandemic-experienced world, what can we promise ourselves this year? As leaders of business units and industry verticals, how can we set a precedent for team members to take inspiration from. Let’s focus on those that are good for our health, happiness and a better tomorrow.
Let Us Leave to Return Better
Plan your work well so that you can take your paid time-offs to rejuvenate your senses. This year, make a promise not to waste your mandatory leaves. Practice your favourite hobby, catch-up with buddies or spend a relaxed vacay amid nature. These unstructured moments will be there to stay and reward you with energy, self-reflection, inspiration for creativity and unexpected epiphanies. This will work best if supervisors take the first step and nudge those who have been working too hard to prove a point. This can be done by being vocal about the importance of taking breaks, and on a company-level can also be achieved via a well-planned internal communication strategy.
Let Us Limit Work Calls and Catch-ups
When seeing is believing, work-from-home leads to haze and doubt. Managers tend to conduct virtual meet-ups to follow-up on project progress more than it is required. A typical work day goes up to 12-13 hours to accommodate virtual meets, clients calls and online project conferences. 2021 is the year we pledge to limit ourselves from call fatigue. Involve only those in a call who are the key executors of a project. Ask for a weekly update rather than a daily one. Allow flexibility to manage personal chores with professional deliverables. Avoid scheduling calls during lunch hours, and take out time just for some simple team bonding activities.
Let Us Benefit from the Gift of Weekends
The public health scare has taught us to adapt to the American always-on mode. The regretful formalities of calling at odd hours has become a matter of the past. Employees are tired and restless and feel that they have even less time for themselves than when they spent hours commuting. It is a plea for all to define and demarcate work days and week-offs. Though many had plans to utilize their stay-at-home orders to pick up a new skill, the majority have confirmed to be more stressed than ever and are voting to go back to office. With days locked-up at home, there was no legitimate excuse to be unavailable. It is time for a change now. It is time to promise ourselves the reward of weekends and spend our time doing what we enjoy, indulging in self-care and pampering our souls. As we say welcome to 2021, it is time for those in senior management to make sure that their human capital gets time to take a mindful breather at the end of their work weeks.
Let Us Be More Concerned
We all have felt the pressure from our supervisors to prove that we are working as the fear of layoffs loomed large. Employees are monitored through time-tracking software and collaboration tools to the point of being questioned on time spent away from work. Though we lived below our means during these testing times with thought-leaders voicing compassion, empathy and kindness, many industry leaders have bypassed the simple fact that remote working comes with its own challenges. The life of a new parent remote worker will be largely different from that of a young graduate. A household with elderly parents will not be the same as that of a single mother. This new year, we must resolve to be a more caring peer, a concerned supervisor and a keen co-worker. It would be most effective if companies conduct sensitization sessions to inculcate some of the best practices for the joy of all. Even implementing a robust and empathetic internal communication strategy can help significantly.
Let Us Not Ignore Our Physical Health
Living in a remote-work-packed schedule made us time-poor. We did not have time to make a meal from scratch or engage in conversations over dinner. This year, no more! For all time poor people who do not want to eat straight out of packets or order ready-made foods from restaurants, a few cooking hacks can make you invest less time to realise high returns. You can add your touch of that special ingredient to make your recipe your own without draining all your energies out in the kitchen. Using shortcuts to success involve using tinned, packaged, semi-cooked food which takes away the labour of cutting, chopping, peeling, boiling and all such preparation time. And that does the trick. This could help busy moms, workaholic singles and all those in demanding job roles buy some time out to relax, relish and keep their health intact. And with no- elaborate cooking goes away elaborate levels of washing and cleaning too which eats into your ‘me’ time as well.
Let Us Promote Mental Well-Being
Most would like to dedicate the new year as the year to catch up on lost sleep. Sleep is crucial for a robust immune system and psychological resilience. So without much ado, let’s resolve to having 6-7 hours of restless sleep to recover from stress and anxiety. Combined with sleep and exercise, take one small step at a time to give back to your community. You could help your local NGOs fundraising mission or advocate for sustainable clothing. Giving back gives life a sense of purpose and goes a long way toward emotional wellbeing. Businesses of all scale can utilize their people management team to educate their employees on the need to upkeep mental health and taking preventive measures, when needed. This awareness can even be a part of team bonding activities. An in-house counsellor is just appropriate at the moment to motivate employees who have been feeling lost and redundant at their work space.
Let Us Thank Those Who Tried Their Best
When coordinating effectively with remote teams, tech headaches often translate to impatient and irritation-prone co-workers. The path to success is to have enough empathy towards others who have limited tech literacy or belong to an environment where high-speed wifi and an office-like home arena is a challenge. So, those who have escalated lapses and gaps due to technical challenges of a peer, let us show gratitude to those who have been receptive to our silent outbursts and be more tolerant towards those who have been a part of the sail.
Let Us Find a New Way to Provide Feedback
Since many will be questioned on their need for flexibility clashing with their commitment to work, it is time to have clearly defined guidelines for performance reviews. It will be best for employers to reward those who have solely focused their time on work priorities without penalizing those who had to take a slack due to mounting personal crises. A daunting task lies ahead for managers to look beyond productivity and utilization data and incorporate a new normal way of evaluating employees that values emotional wellbeing and holds others to a culture of fairness and equity.
Though New Year resolutions have often been made for resolution’s sake, this year will be different. Let us all get together to take joys from the small wins we experienced in the year gone by and set foot into 2021 with renewed commitment to lead a high-quality life at home and at work.
The blog is written by Never Grow Up. The company, founded by Asif Upadhye and is working passionately with Human Resources and Communications teams to develop a happy workplace for their employees.
‘Never Grow Up’ works in different sectors like media, retail, manufacturing, finance, and healthcare.