I just had to follow up my last blog post with some great stories I’ve heard from you as you make your way back to the office. I am so happy that my readers are a mixed bag of professionals with informed points of view. You keep me honest.
I was chatting with one of my coaching clients who had recently returned to the office. She expressed so much frustration that, while being at the office was a nice distraction, she spent most of her day in Zoom meetings.
There were consistent interruptions. Co-workers wanted to be welcoming and kind, and wanted to reconnect. She realized that her priority shifted from getting work out to entertaining social engagements, something she actually had to put effort into because she hasn’t engaged in office small-talk in over two years.
It really put a face to this Bloomberg Business article I had come across not long before. It highlights a lot of the growing pains many of us are currently experiencing as we’re trying to navigate constant changes in our professional and personal lives.
“Just as two years ago we were forced into this remote work, now we’re having the same challenges to move into hybrid. It’s going to be an adjustment period.”Lauren Mason, senior consultant for the career business at Mercer
This adjustment can mean different things for different folks. For example, for parents, child care arrangements may be top of mind. As we’re all trying to find our flow, we also have to dust off old skills that have not had to call on in the last while.
Office communications are certainly a skill. There are people who do it extremely well. We consider them to be schmoozers. Meanwhile, those who aren’t comfortable with it keep more to themselves. Of course, the more I thought about this, this article from the Washington Post popped up on my feed (is Facebook in my head or what?).
Power dynamics, social skills, communication skills, office politics… navigating all of that while also adjusting during a period of transition is a tall order. For many of us, it’s what is expected.
Expectation vs. reality
I spoke to a father of a young child. He expressed his frustration by the demands put on parents of young children during this transition. His job requires him to be there in-person full time. With lingering COVID policies, he finds himself having to stay home with his child for at least 5 days when there is the slightest cough. He knows other parents who lost jobs because of the time they are required to take off from work to care for their children.
In all of these conversations, I’m left with a feeling of massive gaps between expectations, reality and actual governance. There is a significant power struggle between employees, employers and the bodies governing public health that leaves many gaps for us to fill.
On my Facebook group, I’ve started to post about my meditations and mantras. This is just one way that I’ve found to help ground myself. This way, I have been able to look more towards helping people who struggle with this evolving dynamic.
The epiphany that led me to that? It’s up to us to help each other in all of our different roles – employee, employer, policy maker, etc… because only humans can help humans thrive. Let’s be human, and let’s all grow together.