The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to abruptly change our ‘conditioned mind’ to instantly blend two distinct spaces: ‘office’ and ‘home’, fuse them together into one: ‘work-from-home’, the ‘New Normal’.
New it may be (or may not), but is it Normal?
Changing our patterns of thoughts and behavior instantly is one of the hardest things for a vast majority of us to do.
As the euphoria of ‘working from home’ fades, it does tend to leave a baggage of thoughts, feelings and emotions ranging from the anxiety about the future of work to the lack of connect with the organization and the loss of social connect with colleagues.
From an Employee perspective, the New Normal might feel more (Ab)normal than Normal.
We are social beings who have evolved to reside in communities, find comfort in being associated with groups and draw strength from the power of the tribe. Beyond the monetary need, our sense of self-worth and our measure of success stems from striving to be first amongst equals amongst a group.
In a ‘gig’ economy, the work-from-home model works perfectly as the connect of an individual with an organization is purely transactional in nature but with individuals who have a more permanent association with the organization, their emotional investments in the organization tend to be perceived to be ‘at risk’.
Engagement Blind-sight: Transparency and inclusiveness in conversations, plans, decisions and governance helps us gain a ‘clear line of sight’ of the workplace engagement model.
If our sense of engagement gets distorted, we tend to get uncomfortable and experience a sense of loss of control. This leads to anxiety.
Sense of Self-worth: Our intrinsic radar of self-worth constantly trolls for reactions, cues and indicators from others. These social cues provide us the ‘mindsight’ into others and that translates into our confidence, pride and assurance of self-worth.
The inability to pick up social cues from limited non-verbal opportunities in a work-from-home setting can cause negative emotions to creep in and distort our perception of self-worth.
Social Disconnect: Sharing experiences, emotional episodes, information about people & organizations and even gossip helps us with maintaining our emotional stability and balance. A healthy social connect is key to a positive and vibrant work culture.
Lack of ‘listening posts’ creates a void that can have a detrimental impact on people.
Work-from-home is not just a change in the physical location of work but a massive shift in our fundamental notions of a workplace.
In addition to looking at working hours and work-life balance, organizations need to focus on re-imagining and re-shaping the “emotional experiences” that re-assure passion and pride in the workplace in the New Normal.
The New Normal requires new ways of crafting Employee Experiences to ensure that the Ab-normal converts to Absolutely-normal