Recently in a discussion with my sister, she said to me “I am having trouble moving out of pandemic mode.” You see, as a family we were particularly cautious. We have a number of family members, including myself, in the high-risk category which caused us to take a cautious approach throughout the last year of the COVID pandemic. As I and my husband completed our vaccinations, we began making changes– putting our kids back in school, going into our office, and I even ate at a restaurant. Each of these represented steps we were taking to begin to pivot from pandemic mode to a new mode of operating. My sister, who gave up her job due to the pandemic has not yet begun taking these same steps in her family.
A few days later, I was talking to one of my employee teams and answering questions about returning to the office. One person asked me “What is the sense of Leadership? is there a deadline to return? How should we approach this?” I paused and the conversation with my sister came to mind. In answering her questions a few important thoughts came to mind which I think worth sharing and considering.
We all are going to go through a process of pivoting from pandemic life to whatever life is going to look like next. Everyone approached the pandemic differently – some continued with the same practices, some were moderately cautious, and others (like my family) were particularly conservative. I personally want to respect every person’s decision and choices. I encourage everyone to do the same in their interactions with others – coworkers, families, and friends.
Particularly in our workplaces as we come back together with our co-workers, we must be respectful of the various experiences people have had throughout the pandemic. Some may have lost family members, some may have suffered from mental health issues, and others may not have been impacted directly at all. Everyone is likely at a different point in the process of pivoting, and we need to be respectful and conscious of those differences.
I believe we all do need to begin considering how we pivot and adjust into this next phase of life. At Experitec, we have taken an approach which provides employees with this level of flexibility. For those with high concern, we have provided time for employees to get vaccinated before returning to the office. For those without concern, our offices have remained available for collaboration and working spaces.
Now, as individuals we must each start from a place of empathy and understanding in our interaction with others. Understand and respect different perspectives and experiences. For those who have been less restrictive – understand those who have been restricted likely have reasons for doing so. For those who have been restrictive – recognize others feel differently and creating conflict for past decisions is not unhelpful. We need to stop making how we treated or experienced or lived through the pandemic an automatic indicator of the persons beliefs, political affiliations, or thoughts on other topics.
In conclusion, as you make your pivot from the pandemic to the next phase of life – start with understanding, resist judgment, reduce conflict, focus instead on learning from your interactions with others, and growing as a person. We all deserve, after the challenges of the pandemic, an opportunity to heal and transition to this next phase of life peacefully.
As always I welcome feedback, thoughts and comments!
Update: I am currently working on a book that will highlight the lessons we learned in the pandemic, how to processes them, and how these lessons when applied with a practical approach to performance can help us have exceptional work and life experiences!