Goodbye and good riddance, 2020. I think we can all agree there’s a lot we want to leave behind from last year: the struggles, the losses and the myriad other personal and professional challenges. On a lighter note, as a communicator, I hope to never write, say or hear “in these unprecedented times” again. But as an optimist, when I look into the rearview mirror at last year, I can find a few positives.
The great unplanned work-at-home experiment largely worked! Many of us went home from the office one night in mid-March, and BOOM – stayed home. Over the years, the effectiveness of the work-at-home model has been a topic of discussion. But when it had to happen, thanks to advances in technology and the tireless contributions of IT teams in all organizations, Corporate America pivoted and largely succeeded.
We learned new skills…and patience. It seems so commonplace now but look how much we learned about new technologies! We used Zoom and Teams so frequently that “Zoom fatigue” is actually a thing now. Soft phones? I had never heard of them prior to 2020.
As we embraced the new technologies, we also learned patience to navigate their quirks and shortcomings. Network down? It’s okay, it’ll be back up soon. Emails getting caught between servers? They’ll eventually get where they need to go.
We brought a little bit more of our authentic selves to the “office.” Through all those Zoom and Teams meetings, we got new glimpses into each other’s lives. How can you not when your kids decide to dance in the background during your big presentation or the dogs loudly announce the arrival of your umpteenth Amazon delivery? We’ve met the kids, the pets, inquired about the artwork on the walls, debated coffee preferences…and it brought us all closer together. And maybe, just maybe, those connections helped alleviate a little stress and loneliness.
Empathy rose to the forefront. And then we got creative. Especially early on, the number of team check-ins that popped up on calendars was inspiring. We all tried to support one another. And, as time went on, we started getting creative with things like custom backgrounds, virtual birthday parties and happy hours and professional development sessions that educated us while making us feel a part of a community.
While we don’t know yet what 2021 will bring, here’s hoping it’s a bit less eventful than last year.
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