What to expect in the post-COVID times at work and at home
“What to expect in the post-pandemic era. How will things be different at work and in daily life?” Many of us may have these questions on our mind, wondering what is the best way to prepare.
While no one has a crystal ball to precisely predict the future, we can see the first signs of how things may change at work, how we may need to adopt new working practices, and management teams will face new challenges of how to lead their people.
As a workplace health and wellbeing expert, I would like to share what companies - and you, as employees - may expect to see changing in the way we perceive the world, how we work and how we lead.
Coming to terms with a new reality
“Maybe it is time for the old ways to die”, the words of Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born, popped up in my head when I was writing this piece.
The first step towards adapting to the new environment, whether at work or at home, is to accept that we all need to move on, leaving old standards, expectations and targets behind. They simply do not work anymore. The faster we can come to terms with a new reality, new habits at home and new strategies at work, the faster we can transform “the old ways” into new practices applicable to the new “normal”.
So, bringing your team (or family) together and asking them to speak up on how they feel, how the new way of working and living should look will create a foundation of trust, meaningful communication and common purpose.
Expect emotions ranging from fear, unrest to motivation
I have spent the last weeks training a number of teams on stress resilience, positive psychology and the ability to recover. After a period of confusion and uncertainty, week by week people seemed to adapt, create a new balance and gain more mastery over new daily challenges ranging from homeschooling to sharing the space with their partner.
Shortly, we will have to start adapting again to being more outside, in public places, eventually back in offices. Everyone will deal with this change differently: some will be happy to be around people, others may experience anxiety and fear of sharing common space with someone else; some will have the motivation and confidence to face a new reality, others will struggle with uncertainty and constant changes. And everyone, every employee, will have the right to feel that way, based on their situation, their story and background.
Instead of judging and evaluating, your best strategy of dealing with a range of emotions in your team (and family) is to ask for feedback, hear out their story and provide them with support ranging from time to reflect and adjust to proven mindfulness and stress resilience practices to recover mentally and physically. This is how you can prevent burnout and anxiety overwhelming your teams and affecting your business recovery.
Train your leadership team on emotional intelligence & empathy
Whenever we struggle with changes, it is so important to be heard, understood and motivated to “bounce back”. In times like these, the role of an emotionally intelligent leader who knows how to recognise and manage his / her own and the team’s concerns, feelings and worries is critical to the team’s recovery and engagement.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are the ones who regularly check in with their people, create a sense of psychological safety and a common goal, and motivate people to bounce back and go for it.
Empathy has been proven to build trust, inspire honest communication and avoid judgment. Depending on one’s story, your team may be in different states of mind and empathic leaders should be able to openly listen for feelings and emotions, without dismissing, comparing, or labelling them as right or wrong, good enough or not. In many cases, it is not about fixing someone or finding a solution, but actively listening and showing that no one will be left behind.
So, start with your leadership team and make sure that they are trained to be ambassadors of open and mindful communication, empathy, and psychological safety that your team needs now more than ever.
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.“ These are the words of Bruce Barton that remind us about our natural resilience and amazing ability to adapt and connect with each other.
We are all in it together - to prepare for the new reality, to allow space and time for ourselves and others to accept and recover, to support each other without judgment and expectations.