Temporarily Virtual? This Boss Has Your Back.

“It’s great to see you!”

That’s how I would start our video call if I were your boss.

Then, right away, I would ask about your health. If you told me you’ve stayed healthy enough to not even consider going to the hospital, I would be happy to hear that. And I would tell you so.

I’m not your boss, as you know. But I do hope you’ve stayed well.

Can you believe shifting to virtual work was a radical idea just weeks ago?

Wow. Things sure changed quickly.

And now, of course, “non essential” professionals are returning to in-person work.

Before we make that change, let’s pause and reflect on how things have been going for you so far.

How has WFH been working?

I hope you’ve been able to make the most of working from home. Maybe you’ve even been able to find flow in your new normal? If that’s the case, congratulations!

If working from home has continued to be a struggle, I hear that. And, boy, are you in good company. Lots of your colleagues are having a tough time.

And, no wonder. This isn’t what any of us signed up for.

You’ve been flexible and dedicated. And that’s all that can be asked of you. So, thank you. And, well done!

What have you accomplished?

Speaking of done, how are you feeling about what you’ve been able to accomplish? If you’re a high achiever, I suspect you had big plans for how to use the little bit of time that opened up from your cancelled commute, networking opportunities, and/or social events.

What new things have you tried? Have you created something? Made an improvement? Caught up somewhere?

Is there a goal you want to achieve before transitioning back toward the way we used to work? Is there anything you want to let go of?

Where have you grown?

One of the gifts disruption brings is the ability (or requirement!) to look at things from different perspectives. And, we’ve certainly had a lot of opportunities to do that.

Whether you intentionally dug into something, happened upon a realization, or instituted a change, how did it work out? What do you want to do with it?

If nothing comes to mind right away, I hope you’ll take some time to reflect. Your future self may thank you for it later.

How can we help each other thrive?

One of the things we’ve learned collectively over the past weeks is the value of connecting with others. Whether networking, learning, working, or playing, most of us have adopted some new ways of interacting.

How have you seen people bridge physical divides? What best practices might you share with others? How can you model and contribute to effective relationship building and productivity?

I ask because I have a strong feeling that something you’ve experienced can help us improve how we work together. This is a shared responsibility, of course. It’s not all up to you. But you can help lead the way.

I encourage you to propose improvements, celebrate what works well, and call others out when they regress to less effective behaviors.

What have you lost?

Everyone has lost something in this crisis. For some, it’s been the worst things we can imagine.

Even if you are among the most fortunate, you have had to forgo something — anticipated events, milestone celebrations, anchoring routines, hard-earned advancements.

Whatever your loss, I hope you are acknowledging it and giving yourself some extra care.

When will you be ready to transition?

This last question is not intended to be disingenuous or misleading. Official proclamations and email notices will mark the formal changes to current WFH policy. Those decisions won’t be made or communicated by either one of us.

But you have an important role to play as things move forward.

Successfully transitioning you and your colleagues back to the office will be require collaboration, nuance, and iteration. I encourage you to ask for what you need to feel safe, be effective, and fulfill any other responsibilities.

I’d like to wrap up with a reminder of what got us here: agility, resolve, and strength. In business, we’re used to moving fast, focusing on the future, and driving change. As those attributes continue to define us, I hope we can add to them an increased appreciation for the here and now.

When we take time to be present, we can understand the world around us, identify the needs of others, connect with our own intuition, and create thoughtful solutions.

And that’s how we get to a better place.

That’s what I would say if I were your boss. And I would mean every word.

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