Living through history has again challenged us in ways that we could never have anticipated. It has forced decisions we never thought we would have to make, brought moments of both fear & relief and decidedly rearranged us as people. It has revealed our unheralded strengths — and chinks in the amour. Undoubtedly, we’ll come through to the other side as changed human beings. These changes may be revealed as subtle or drastic, nuanced or obvious, for both our betterment and detriment. (The permutations are endless & rich, mirroring the collective of being human.)
I cannot help but wonder: Should we stop & regroup before diving back in at full speed? They answer is a resounding yes.
Ultimately, a slow-to-boil argument with the way we work has occurred over the last 20 months— affecting individuals, teams & organizations. More shifting is likely ahead, not unlike the deep changes in thought & action that occurred after the 2008 economic crisis.
Things are changing (and have already changed) which affect how many of us work. But in the wake of the incoming shifts, we need to attempt to keep our heads clear & level.
A Few Observations:
- Individual differences will still matter. Invariably shifts in work & workplaces, often manifest as a wildly shifting pendulum, rife with over-corrections. For example, discussions of hybrid work (a conversation indeed long-overdue) will likely swing toward less time spent in the office, possibly bypassing the individuals needs of contributors. This can ultimately lead to similar issues (poor fit, etc.) that may have existed before the pandemic. Remember to never forget what you need to feel engaged and excel. Respect this among your co-workers and within teams.
- Look at meaning carefully. I’ve always felt that work life meaning has been portrayed as something that is quite obvious, that somehow “bubbles up” spontaneously from within. In a way, this leaves the concept as something esoteric and in many cases, unreachable. How can there be meaning if we do not operationalize the concept for ourselves? Take the time to ask yourself what your work brings to the world — and why that has value to you. Encourage this within your team, to stem the tide of resignations and turnover that has already begun.
- Acknowledge that work may not feel the same. I can personally attest to more than one inflection point over the last 20 months or so. The parts of my work life that I never thought would become attractive, have become more so. Similarly, some of the bits that always fueled me, have lost their luster. We cannot underestimate how our experiences have changes us. I’m also certain, that we must consider them thoughtfully.
Taking Stock: 5 Questions
Try this exercise from the Core Stability Sessions.
Ask yourself the following.
- When was the last time you remember truly enjoying yourself at work?
- What were you doing?
- Does that represent a shift for you?
- Does that work also have meaning to you?
- Does that element play (or could it play) a strong role in your current work life?
Knowing yourself, is often the key to an engaged work life. Remember to invest in yourself by leaving room for thought and contemplation.
Have you already done so? What did you conclude?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist & speaker regarding the dynamic nature of work life. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her practice helps people, teams & organizations build stronger work life foundations through the practice of core stability. Her thoughts on work life have also appeared at the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, BBC Work Life, Quartz and The Huffington Post.