It’s been a year now. A year since cities started to close events. A year since companies had to direct staff to work from home or furlough them. A year since we had to start adapting to the challenges of new ways of working.
A year is enough time for us to have found our feet with these new ways of working, it is how we work now. We’ve pushed through teething problems and technical challenges. For the most part we find ourselves leading our teams and supporting our colleagues as much, if not more than we did a year ago.
What about a year from now?
When you look at your teams, consider the changes you may have incorporated into your leadership style, is it going to be useful to revert back to how it used to be, or have you found different ways that will serve you better? What are the changes you adopted, new approaches you have tried, that might stick as you lift out of lockdown?
Without the commute and trips out at lunchtime or to visit clients, many of us have had to make a more conscious effort to exercise to keep our bodies healthy and ourselves mentally focused after hours on screens. Much has been said about the mental health impacts of lockdown. Is it worth analysing the ways in which we have changed to support our own mental wellbeing, discover what others have done and then for us all to collaborative in helping to create a more and supportive environment for everyone.
The change in working practices, such as working from home, has underpinned a shift in colleague relations too. Staff have been empowered to work from home and been trusted to do so around other responsibilities such as childcare. A year has been long enough for these changes to become routine, for staff to know they can balance work with domestic needs and still engage with their work fully.
If the initial lockdown severed our working processes and ties, then the intervening year has been about creating new connections. If we simply revert to how things used to be, what does that say about us as leaders?
The coming months will see an emergence from lockdown as vaccination programs create an invisible barrier for the virus that replaces the physical ones we have become used to over the last year. There will be the chance to see colleagues again, or for the first time for those who joined during lockdown. Just as we plan our working schedule for days back in the office we should also be planning how we want others to receive us as they return. We should be aware of the possibility that some may come back with worries and concerns as to how it will be for them , with others really looking forward to being back again. Noticing and observing patterns in behaviours will be key to supporting and easing everyone in to work alongside each other once more.
As leaders, asking ourselves what we will carry forward out of lockdown that can support the health and wellbeing of our colleagues first and foremost in order that confidence and security can return. The strength of our professional relationships, our ability to deliver for stakeholders, clients and ourselves will be reliant upon a more personal and empathetic style of leadership moving forwards.
If you’d like to know more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.