Associations Consultant Anna Koj - who is also our regular contributor at HQ - reflects on the changes in our professional lives triggered by COVID-19, the digital transition of meetings and the new home working routine.
If anyone had any doubts about the speed and scale at which unprecedented change can overtake our lives, the developments of these past months leave us with none. Admittedly, most of these disruptive events occur in, overall, less tragic circumstances – and thankfully so. We still don’t know what the full impact of the Covid-19 related crisis will be on the economy. However, we can already observe how months of remote working have influenced the way we professionally interact with others, and what it means for how we will work in the future. Interestingly enough, these observations may actually be the rays of sunshine we so desperately need nowadays.
So, while I believe there is plenty to work on and it’s imperative to keep a critical eye on the reality around us, and I would usually stand guard, this time around, I’ll allow myself to set on a quest to find that sunshine.
Have virtual meetings made us more human?
When speaking to many dozens of professionals over the last months about how they were experiencing this forced move to exclusively online meetings, one comment came back repeatedly and struck me in particular. So many of my interlocutors recognized that they now spend a considerably larger portion of the meeting checking in with the other person, simply acknowledging they may be going through rough times. All this without any negative impact on the productivity and the outcome of the meeting itself.
It seems like a small thing but how many times in the past had we entered a meeting and cut right to the chase without even asking the other person how they were doing? Or without really waiting for their answer? Let’s remember we are all a sum of our different personas – private and public, personal and professional. They are all intertwined and impact our overall well-being. Letting the other person know you see them in their whole self doesn’t cost much and can take you a long way in setting a strong basis for your professional relationship.
Has home working made organisations more respectful of their employees’ everyday life circumstances?
Similarly, with remote working becoming the only option for many, organisations seem to have grown to acknowledge and appreciate their employees’ private lives as an integral part of who they are as professionals. We have seen new practices put in place aimed at ensuring employees have enough time to reset and relax, adjustments have been made to allow working parents to take care of their children, contributing to their schooling and other needs.
With the prolonged periods of forced home office arrangements, many organisations will hopefully ensure these new practices are not just temporary crisis management solutions to keep them afloat but will make them an integral part of a new culture.
The rays of sunshine are there. It turns out that when things go digital, they can also become more human. What we do with it and whether we keep it that way is up to us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Koj is a Managing Partner of Akronos Consulting – a boutique consultancy in Brussels, VP Partnerships at Professional Women International Brussels (PWI Brussels), and recruitment and leadership Consultant at EARS – European A airs Recruitment Specialists. She helps individual clients to thrive by aligning their personal and professional vision and organisations to identify the best talent. She specialises in strategic communications, institutional relations and organisational leadership.
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