There is no doubt that the past two years have been difficult. We’ve been isolated from one-another, which shifted routines, relationships, and work patterns. In some cases, organizations have created difficult decisions by requiring vaccinations for work, resulting in job loss, more frustration, and survivors-guilt. For others the fear and anxiety have generated a great deal of stress, which wreaks havoc on the mind and body. As many prepare to return to work, it might be time to address the challenges that will come from being apart for an extended duration. Your return to the office, might be a looming nightmare for someone else!
While you might be thrilled to re-kindle a past co-worker relationship, not everyone will feel the same way. Something that was intended to be a two-week stint turned into two-years generating new routines and patterns that may be difficult for some to give up. No commute is the first thing that comes to mind, especially here in the Seattle area where we’ve been known to spend two to three-hours luxuriating in our cars. Increased and/or improved quality of life is something else that others have “found” after spending two years working from home. Still others have realized that they are no longer bound by a false sense of security or worth from time spent in the office. This does not even begin to address those that have become fearsome of being around other people, or losses (death, divorce) from others.
So, how do we fully re-integrate after all of this and what are the potential pitfalls? The pitfalls: a myriad of emotions and the possibility of shifting relationships that may present as a waterfall of emotional experiences.
Through all this transition there are a few ways in which you can demonstrate your capacity for leadership despite the formal role you hold within the organization.
1) Respect new boundaries, difficult as they may be. We may not agree with the new boundaries or like them, but they need to be respected. In the words of Stephen Covey, PhD, “seek first to understand”! Ask questions and engage in dialogue as a first measure of respect.
2) Re-establish relationships. The other consideration is that many of our “relationships” may have been diminished as a result of the virtual environment. Take time to re-build the relationship in order to move past the new boundaries.
3) Remember compassion. The greatest thing we do for others, and ourselves, is to simply show compassion. Two-years is a long time, and many have dealt with significant losses. Simply listen, and “seek first to understand.” While we may not know the full capacity of the difficulties endured by others, show kindness to others as they may be in need of a bit of simple act of compassion.
As we come back together, given the potential for fear, excitement, resentment, frustration, and the myriad of other emotions that may be present, let’s remember that its possible everyone is struggling with or through something. Afterall, it’s been a while.
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