When the United States went into Covid-19 lockdown in the Spring of 2020, it was because of a deadly enemy, which just happened to be a virus.
People living in close proximity or interacting in crowded environments, were becoming sick. They were even dying, in alarming numbers. There was no vaccine or cure for this deadly Covid-19 virus. Nurses and doctors were battling a ferocious beast.
The Corporate Workplace
The entire country, including Corporate America, had to go into lockdown. People living next to each other and working in face-to-face conditions, fueled the spread.
Prior to the pandemic, the make-up and combination of employees in various businesses was built to facilitate in-person, face-to-face interaction.
Once the pandemic began, people were forced into a virtual world and to interact virtually. As the world waited for a vaccine and effective treatments, another trend emerged. Overnight, one had to be comfortable with operating in the virtual world. It became a prerequisite for businesses to survive the pandemic.
Managing and Leading Teams
Supervisors and managers in office environments had to exercise true leadership. After all, this was the time when management had to exhibit their capacity to embrace change https://sues.life/2021/03/23/embracing-transformational-change/ They needed to be very trusting of their direct reports. This, even when these employees were not right in front of their faces.
However, some supervisors and managers continued to have a deep distrust of their virtually-located workers. They heaped a ton of work and endless tasks on their subordinates. This led to exhausted workers. In addition, many workers complained that the boundaries between work and home became blurred and they had been working longer hours and days.
Employees who are parents and main caregivers, had been particularly exhausted by this lack of boundaries. They had to work. They had to supervise their children. Children experienced virtual learning, instead of going to school.
Fatigue and the Quest for Change
Video-conferencing in the form of ‘Zoom’ and the like appeared to also be a replacement for direct supervision of workers. It seemed to be an effective and complete solution to no face-to-face interactions. Until ‘zoom fatigue’ set in.
A year or so later, there is a contingent of workers who have not been managed well, by their workplaces. They were mis-managed in a virtual environment and as a result, are frustrated and itching to quit their jobs. Many people have questioned if workers’ expectations of staying 100% remote or the Federal stimulus funds, caused people to resign.
My response is that many are not motivated by such narrow reasons. You see, most people need to be respected. Workers need to be given time, given rest and most of all, they need to be appreciated for adapting to such challenging times. Leadership is top down and if leaders do not actually lead their employees, they have to face the consequences.
Clearly, old mindsets cannot be sustained and insisting on the old ways does not work in a radically different environment. A paradigm shift has been set into motion and the only organizations that will truly survive are those that boldly lead the way. These places of work are the ones that motivated their workers and encouraged them. Their leaders led by example.
Therefore, blaming workers for their choices in a time of great change is to lack vision and insight. Re-examining how organizations lead their people through change should be the focus now. This is how we define the workplace of the future.