Throughout the pandemic and lock-down, businesses fortunate enough to allow for employees to work-at-home had a great advantage. Employees were still able to connect to the network, collaborate with colleagues by phone, email or instant message, and speak with clients via telephone and videoconference. Thanks to available technology, we witnessed what we were capable of when forced to adapt.
Now, 16 months in, offices and businesses are beginning to open back up and corporate travel is no longer restricted as it was. We see a glimmer of what life was like pre-pandemic. Companies are determining whether to jump in to “business as usual” or take a slower approach.
(Wo)man Plans and God Laughs
The breadth of the pandemic came as a surprise and wake-up call. As someone used to being on the road visiting with clients and attending conferences often, I found myself locked in and holed up in my home for months on end. All the plans I had made in late 2019 for a successful and productive 2020 now had to be modified to the “new normal”. I had to brush up on my webinar and videoconferencing skills and be cognizant that each person I spoke with had their own struggles going on at home and at work. It was important to be mindful and patient of everyone’s situation.
And it worked. While the method may have changed, being adaptable and creative during unforeseen circumstances can still lead to the desired end-results. Some corporations are eager to go back to pre-pandemic “normal” as soon as possible, but to discount all that was learned and accomplished during the lock-down period would be a sad conclusion to an extremely difficult period.
One Size Does Not Fit All
We are not out of the woods yet, and there is no telling what future obstacles may lie ahead. Face-to-face meetings are extremely valuable, however, not everyone is ready yet to go back full-throttle. Each individual should be allowed to determine their comfort level with going back out there and the risks they are willing to take. Non-work-related factors come into play, such as who you live and socialize with and how risky it could be for those in your inner circle. This should be applied to those person(s) to be met with too. Making allowances for personal circumstances and preferences should not be seen as a hinderance but a chance for employees to achieve their goals through alternative means.
Learning from Our Collective Experience
As we move forward and towards a semblance of normalcy, we should not disregard what we experienced and learned throughout 2020 and beyond. We need to accept that we cannot plan for everything and applaud some of the unforeseen results of this unfortunate pandemic; new skills were learned, creative ideas were implemented, and the relationships with people we work with became a little kinder and more empathetic. We should acknowledge that the pandemic has changed the way we work and live and to use it as a way to improve how we conduct ourselves in business and in life going forward.
Elisabeth Axelrod is an experienced relationship management professional working in the financial services industry for over sixteen years, focused on strengthening and growing her connections within each institution and supporting their unique business needs and initiatives. She finds the challenge of developing strategies and identifying solutions for her clients deeply rewarding. You can follow her: www.linkedin.com/in/elisabeth-axelrod