“Hello . . . can you hear me?”
Business meetings have a new set of inconveniences these days. Ever since we started working remotely, I have had to test the connection on conference calls, ask for someone to resend me a link, or share screenshots more than I did before 2020.
Besides the technological issues, I have made other adjustments, too. Like many other parents, I have juggled new responsibilities with schooling from home and childcare during my normal office hours. And on top of that, learning to stay focused on work in my home — a place meant for relaxation and family time — has been an unexpected challenge.
After several months of working remotely, though, I have acclimated to these new circumstances well enough. I have modernized my home office that helps to separate me from interruptions, and my family understands when I need to prioritize my work projects. Working from home has forced me to separate my “work time” and my “home time” more, which, as a chronic multitasker, has been a struggle.
Still, I sometimes remind myself that we are not always perfect at in-person communication. How many times have we checked a notification on our phone while we are with somebody else? Or perhaps we meet with someone on our lunch break, only to constantly check the time to ensure we make it back to the office in time for another meeting.
The irony of this pandemic is that being further apart has brought us closer together. Isolation has forced a retrospective on the way we have lived our lives and helped us appreciate how we devote our time. Before COVID-19, bustling around from work to other commitments gave us excuses to limit the attention we give to each other.
As some of you may know already, I am eager to return to the office. Nothing can replace the energy of a full team meeting in one room. The moments of inspiration that happen organically during a coffee break or the rapport built at the water cooler can’t be replicated over a virtual meeting. This pandemic has been inconvenient at best and tragic at worst, but if there is something positive that we can take away from this experience, it is in the way we have appreciated the importance of connecting with each other.
Long after the dangers of the coronavirus have faded, my hope is for us to remember the lessons we learned when the world came to a halt. Moving forward, I will be focusing on the following three goals to develop our communication and strengthen our connections with each other.
ASK FOR HELP
There is only so much Google can tell you when you don’t know how to do something. Case in point: you can watch as many haircutting videos as you like, but almost everybody is either hiding a botched homemade haircut or an overgrown puff of hair these days.
But you don’t have to pay a professional to realize there are some things you just can’t do by yourself. We often take for granted how much we rely on other people for accomplishing tasks for us without even mentioning it, whether it was in a group project or around the home. Even if you have shied away from asking for help because of pride or the feeling that you are bothering someone, asking our coworkers or family members to show us how to do something is okay.
CHECK IN WITH PEOPLE
Perhaps for the first time, people are giving honest answers to the question “how are you doing?” Though not everyone is dealing with the same obstacles, we know that many people have been struggling during the past few months. That empathy means we can take a few moments to listen when someone says, “You know, I’m not doing fine today.”
The only way many of us have been able to keep it together during social distancing has been to savor the moments when we call or message other people. Whether we are talking to a loved one or catching up with a colleague, those moments of human interaction will be just as important moving forward as they were when we were sheltering in place.
When we have busier schedules, sometimes we are guilty of dividing our attention when checking in with people. During social distancing, many of us have made more effort to genuinely pay attention to our loved ones’ responses. The disadvantage of distance means we haven’t been able to notice body language or other in-person clues that reveal the whole story. Because of this, whenever we have the chance to meet together, my goal is to sincerely listen during conversations. In a time when we are feeling especially vulnerable, listening to each other’s needs and concerns is especially important.
Much of our conversation in the past few months has been on our phones, and we can be thankful for that. Phone calls, emails, Zoom, and Google Hangouts helped to bridge the gap when we had to keep our distance.
But as we slowly approach life post-quarantine, we should be ready to change our phone habits. Whenever we can share a meeting room or a table at a restaurant again, we will need to put our phones away and be fully present in our conversations. Being away from each other for so long has reminded us how important it is to share the table.
Chief Executive Officer, Score Priority
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