If you had to pick one way coronavirus is changing the world of work, you’d probably say something to do with remote working. Many people who have never worked from home before are now learning how to function outside of an office environment – and it’s a shift which is sure to have implications long after the current pandemic has ended.
What you might not have noticed, however, is how the current pandemic – and the subsequent change in working arrangements we’ve adopted as a result – is changing our working relationships. As we swap our office chairs for the sofa or dining room table, the way in which we interact with our colleagues has become more, well… human.
“I’ve seen a real difference in meeting styles and language used in the last month,” says Belinda Parmar OBE, CEO of The Empathy Business. “Our home and work life has been forced to blend and the outcome is that we are seeing a more empathic and authentic style of leadership.”
“One CEO of a company I work with, who is incredibly private, introduced his dog to us all during a video call, and another gave us a tour of their house during a team meeting,” Parmar explains. Leaders are asking how people feel and the safety of their families first and foremost before launching into their agenda.
“Some companies are organising #formalfriday meetings where people can dress up for work meetings to make them more fun. I’ve even noticed that the passive aggressive email sign-off ‘best regards’ has evolved to ‘keep safe and well!’.”
While these changes may seem inconsequential with everything that is going on in the world right now, the “humanised” nature of remote working is, says Parmar, reinventing the way we’re going to work in the future.
“We can’t go back to the soulless corporate environment where we are chained to our desks,” she says. “We need leaders to show empathy and sustain this style of working post pandemic.”
Among all of the anxiety-inducing headlines and depressing news updates, it’s nice to know that coronavirus may have had one positive impact on the world. As we the current situation and face challenges we’ve never been confronted with before, we need “humanness” in the (virtual) work place more than ever before.
So go forth and show off your dog, cat or other equally adorable pet in yet another Zoom call – it’s the personal, human touch we all need right now. And if all else fails, seeing a fluffy face appear on the other end of the call never harmed anyone, right?