We spent time at a recent remote all-hands meeting, talking about what we called Gray Linings. We asked each employee to talk about the unexpected positives that have come out of remote working here at Gray Scalable. We surprised ourselves in what ended up becoming an uplifting and emotional meeting - we talked about personal and professional positives, and left the meeting feeling better than we did coming into it.
These are trying times. In our efforts to find the positive, it’s really possible to teeter into not honoring how we’re feeling, by waving things away, saying “it could be worse!” or “at least you have…”, “at least you’re not…” That said, I am a chronic optimist, and believe strongly that some good has to come out of this world-altering stuff going on around us. I’ve seen some very positive outcomes as we have been working remotely, and really hope some of these practices are here to stay. Here’s my wish-list, anyway:
Connecting on a Personal Level
I currently work in an industry that welcomes and embraces getting to know people on a personal level, but started my career in an industry that emphasized separating personal and professional lives. As much as I do connect closely with my Gray Scalable colleagues, I was still maintaining my deeply-ingrained professional-distance habits when talking to clients and when conducting interviews. This crisis has changed that for me personally - in a positive way. Every meeting and interview now starts with a personal check-in. I’ve gotten to meet clients’ school-aged kiddos on Zooms, and have joked with candidates about inevitable mishaps on video interviews (it happens! Read more about how to interview with empathy, here). It feels like our interactions are, in general, more empathetic, and more connected. I hope we get to keep that.
Remember when it was a huge deal when that reporter from the BBC got interrupted on a live broadcast by his toddler? He has nothing on Pandemic Parents working (and homeschooling?!) from home. Now, not only are babies across America sitting in on meetings, but we’re welcoming our kids, parents, and fur-babies to join our video calls. It’s truly a highlight of my day, when we have our team daily standup, and we get some hilarious commentary from Katie’s kindergartener and 3YO (I even got busted for using bad language, when I called something “stupid” - touché, cutie). While everyone at our company enjoys flexibility (regardless of family status), I know I’ve put pressure on myself to wall off family impact on my work life. It’s an impossible goal, to strive to have the personal have zero impact on the professional. Even after this crisis passes, we’ll need to block time to work on homework, or take the dog to the vet, or to look after an aging parent. On the other side of this crisis, let’s not forget that we were able to get great work done, while also looking after our loved ones.
This pandemic has opened up the conversation about mental health and the very real need to practice self-care on a daily basis. We’ve encouraged our employees to block time for a daily walk, or meditation, or whatever it is that’s needed, to engage in some form of self-care. We’re hosting impromptu Happy Hours, that easily go an hour or more, with cocktails or without. I’m seeing my counterparts in HR across the startup space doing the same, and it’s a much-needed, timely trend. We’re acknowledging that we need to take care of ourselves and each other - and we should keep doing that. We’ll need to do it anyway, as we start on our journey back to work as we knew it.
While I’m pining for the days when I can see my work colleagues in person again, I know the return will be gradual. I hope we can carry these things with us, when we work our way back to NYC.
What’s making your work life better? What would you like to see continue on, post-pandemic?
written by Deb Feldman