Be Careful What You Wish For

This part of a series of snippets from our new book, Lockdown Learnings. A collection of 50 life lessons from 50 leaders in lockdown that reached No.1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s HR chart. Now available in print here.


They say, “be careful what you wish for”, and that may well be how many of us are feeling at the moment if we have ever wanted more time at home, or to be done with the commute, or longed for more time with our families. It is certainly a reflection of how I have felt on some days over the past few weeks.

I have spent the last four years championing many aspects of the future of work: The personal, social and environmental benefits of remote and flexible working; the fragility, challenges and potential joy of work–life balance; the importance of corporate culture and leadership to the health and wellbeing of employees. I have spoken widely on these topics and fought to put them on boardroom agendas, into annual HR budgets and embed them into the employee value proposition.

Is Unprecedented Change a Silver Lining?

And now, a microscopic virus (not my advocacy, research or hard work) has managed to bring all of these subjects front and centre into everyone’s minds, modes of working and lived reality. So, I guess that I should be at least a little happy with this outcome? Shouldn’t I see these unprecedented changes in working practices as a sliver of a silver lining to this
global crisis?

And yet, I find myself still on the fence and far from ready to celebrate. I am withholding judgement on how successful we have or haven’t been in implementing remote and flexible working, because what we are currently living and working through is not working from home in any recognisable way and it is not humanly sustainable in its current guise. I am withholding judgement on how well we prioritise the physical and mental health of our people until I see this current rhetoric embedded into practice over the months and years to come. And I am withholding judgement on how effectively we continue to support people (especially women) to create their own balance of personal, social and professional needs.

What’s New?

What I have clearly recognised during this experience is that essentially no “new” ways of working have truly been created. Whatever corporate culture, communication or leadership style existed in a company two months ago has just been magnified through this crisis. The individuals, teams and companies who have managed to retain their buoyancy are the ones who had continually and consistently invested time and resources into maintaining their resilience, equilibrium and wellbeing. And it is this strong “resilient foundation” of resourcefulness that they have now drawn from as they continue to underpin their contributions (personal and professional) with empathy, collaboration and honest communication to weather the storm together.

“No wish exists in a vacuum.”

 

So I guess it is important to “be careful what we wish for” as no wish exists in a vacuum. And if I do see a sliver of a silver lining it is that we now have an opportunity, individually and collectively, to truly consider what is possible when it comes to the future of work. To imagine and manifest an industrial revolution for the 21st century that we can all contribute to and be proud of.


Suki is Chief Happiness Officer at HappyMaven and one of 50 leaders who contributed their learning to the new book, Lockdown Learnings. Read it in full by ordering your copy on Amazon here.

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