Some of us have resumed work from office. Discussions have been initiated on re-opening of offices and safety measures. There are various deliberations, considerations and changes across organisations - hybrid models, remotely located teams, flexi timings, etc. Though none of us can accurately predict the shape of things in the days to come, we still operate with hope and optimism.
The year-and-a-half that most of us have spent in isolation, working from home or remote working, have created significant behaviour changes, both overt and covert. This includes influences on our professional mindset, our productivity. The pain of loss around us has left us vulnerable, but in some ways, helped us introspect about life and the future. It won’t be incorrect to say that we seek purpose more than earlier, when we thought life was largely steady and charted out. We have shifted focus on many fronts. A renewed sense of personal care and well-being. Passions and interests that have helped us overcome the months of confinement.
How will profession, passion and purpose co-exist in a post-pandemic world? How will we find that balance as professionals? How will we create that sweet spot as leaders?
POWER OF VOICE
The ability to empathise deeply with the team’s pain and loss, mental and physical well-being, while navigating businesses through stormy seas, was the litmus test of leaders in the pandemic world. In the absence of being physically present, the power of the voice came to the forefront. With body language being limiting on a screen, it was the voice and expressiveness that exuded courage and confidence.
We like to listen to good orators. We have risen to the power of evocative speeches. Our voice is not just about authority; it resonates passion. It reflects our values, what we believe in, our emotions. It can be an expression of authenticity and honesty.
On the flip side, our voice does give us away, and reveal who we truly are, giving us no room to cover up. I believe that our words, expression, power of thought and opinion will continue to be our strength to collaborate, inspire and lead businesses and teams, wherever we work from. Physical presence is good, but not necessarily a key requisite for success.
INDIVIDUAL VS COLLECTIVE
The pre-pandemic years had revolutionized office spaces in the marketing and communication-led industry. Walls came hurtling down. Long communal tables replaced work desks. Shared spaces. Shared meals. Shared entertainment. Shared ideas. The Collective was encouraged. We versus I.
Remote working and isolated living built back some walls. While there are virtual connects, we have time as individuals, we work in our own space, our thoughts are ours before they are shared as a collective. Even though all of us never wanted this personal space physically and mentally, we have it today. The times have made us stronger. Tougher. We have discovered many sides to ourselves that most of us didn’t believe existed. When we are apart from the collective whole, we perhaps have room for self-belief. A sense of renewed confidence in the ‘I’ that makes us add value to the ‘We’. Creating a balance and allowing for mental space to introspect and connect with ourselves, while being together, will help us find that sweet spot and not lose our individualities.
THE FAMILY CONNECT
Like many organisations, we have had virtual family connects. Kids’ Day. Family Day. Women’s Day. Father’s Day. And so on. We even had some surprises, when our children performed virtually for us. My daughter did that too, without my knowledge. Most of us have waved hellos to smiling faces peering into the camera and disappearing. There is happiness and pride that comes with a sense of belonging to the family member’s place of work. Perhaps I feel strongly about this as I grew up in an oil town community, where this was a very strong value and culture.
Finding moments of family inclusivity is a signal of appreciation of family support and positivity that inspire our professional lives.
PROFESSION AND PASSION
The social media posts on home-cooked meals. Freshly painted canvas on walls. Beautiful stories. New forms of art. Life in a pandemic has helped us express ourselves beyond work. These expressions define who we are. Make us complete as people. Creativity can never be a sandbox of an office identity alone.
Initiatives that create platforms, forums for teams to share such passion and interests, bring us closer as teams, as colleagues. We understand people better. We recognize what drives us.
A balance of profession and passion is a great way of finding and thriving purpose. It completes us as individuals in a collective world.
(The author is Managing Partner, GTB India at WPP. Her views are personal and doesn’t reflect those of the organization.)
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