The past year and a half have provided us with ample time to reflect as individuals. Perhaps an introvert’s dream on the surface, the pandemic work environment also exposed the myriad of ways people work, peak productivity patterns and more.
It was also really hard. I’m happy, personally, to be returning to a more normal work routine. One thing I have learned, however, is that flexibility in business operations will be one of the habits we keep.
How did I arrive at this conclusion? Sometimes learning something may take intense and ongoing deliberative research or it may be as simple as having that magical “aha” moment. It’s what we do with these confirmed, newly found or complete transformation of our truths that defines us. Think about the journey over the past 15 months. If your journey is anything like mine, the pandemic has forced you to look at key relationships, influences and routines. (No matter how we all felt about the pandemic itself.) It led to reflection on:
- Our individual health
- The health of family, friends and associates
- Our children and their educational or child care requirements
- Our personal relationship with religion, government, politics, etc.
- Social interaction, or the lack thereof, and the consequences
- The business we’re in and the jobs we do
- The people we admire or distrust
- The things we enjoy doing
Based on this blog so far, you might be thinking I’m building towards some great work-life revelation. And, yes, I’ve taken many personal learnings away from our collective Covid-19 experience. Though most of how I think and behave isn’t likely to be altered significantly by events that are out of my control. What I have learned is something about humanity and the current working conditions. In short, it’s the differences that make us better.
Let me explain the evolution of my viewpoint. From a business operations perspective, I’m what might be considered a rather old school leader. While I’ve always tried to be flexible and supportive of particular scenarios or conditions, I believed in traditional work hours, set shifts and a regular, recurring on-site presence. Simply speaking I’ve just always been more comfortable with a traditional approach.
Covid-19 has definitely changed that for me and while I still like to see team members in person, I also understand the benefits of flexible schedules and working remotely. More importantly, we can gauge and utilize the differences in all of our individual needs. We don’t have to, nor should we try to put a one size fits all approach on every employee.
Some people will work long hours regardless of location. Some will only work while in the office. Some might have many disruptions throughout the traditional day but become late night production warriors. Some are motivated by personal space, others need the in-office camaraderie. Some are steady over the longer haul, while others kick out incredible production in shorter energetic bursts.
The experiences are endless. Everyone is different not only in how they think, what they believe and how they behave, but also in how they work. Of the many things I’ve learned since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic related to business practices, the most important takeaway is to recognize these differences, nurture them and encourage productivity in the way that works best for the individual, the team and the businesses that we serve.