The last twelve months have seen a dramatic shift for us all in terms of what the working week looks like. Our professional and personal lives have seen a blurring of the lines as one becomes an extension of the other. Whilst some have stated they feel disenfranchised from their workplaces, others state they have actually had far more personal dealings with their colleagues than ever before.
In something as simplistic as the shift to online working the impact has been huge. With far more emphasis being placed on the written word and without those ‘water cooler’ moments that many relied upon to forge those more informal contacts with our peers, we have had to reach out for new ways to connect. Perhaps however these new ways have created something far more authentic and far more profound?
In the absence of chatting with colleagues before and after meetings we have had to connect on a more personal and more proactive level. Seeking each other out over WhatsApp, via social media, over phone calls to check in on one another and more importantly to check up on one another. Conversations have become more real, more authentic, as we let each other in and shared with one another how we were feeling. United in our sense of frustration, of fear and of the desire to connect with another, we let each other in in a way perhaps previously we had reserved for our families and close friends.
Never has our mental health been so front and centre in focus to both ourselves and to our workplaces. In the absence of afterwork drinks and face to face networking events we have seen one to one mentoring and virtual mental health events offered with incredibly large take ups. Events which allow us to connect with one another at a far more emotional level whilst removing the after-work drinks culture that existed previously. The result being that the connection side of these events has become paramount as we reached out to one another from the privacy of our own homes and the dynamic shifted into something far more authentic, far more tangible. The results of these meetings and events have been clear to see.
Think back on how many posts you have seen recently where people have commented on the connections they have made with others in this new and virtual world? Forged through our remote interactions, some having never met in real life, but those connections are real. They matter. They will last.
In the absence of the ‘face to face’ connections somehow, we have replaced those interactions with ‘heart to heart’ connections instead and that has made all the difference.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
To never be defined by your job. It took me moving halfway across the world to realise I was a person and not just a role profile and that actually I preferred the person I was to the role profile I had become. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and look at the world from a different angle.
If you had to choose an alternative career, what would you be doing now?
I would love to be a writer. In a small cottage, with a roaring fire and unlimited amounts of tea, on the Scottish coast.
At the end of your career, if you were to sit and reflect, what one hope do you have?
That I’ve helped as many people as possible to achieve their goals. In every role I’ve ever had what has made me happy is knowing I’ve helped someone else in getting where they wanted to go. Whether that is career development, personal development or just in emotional support or by being there to listen. Our people are our core. They are what matter most.