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The New Normal For Working Is Convenient And Effective,  But How Does It Affect Our Souls?

The New Normal for Working is Convenient and Effective, But How Does It Affect Our Souls?

It’s October of 2021 and the last fiscal quarter has already begun. It has been a year entirely under the shadow of the Coronavirus, a challenging year in which almost every consultant was forced to become an expert in work methods for this strange era. Everyone now specializes in the new normal, including remote work, Zoom, you name it…

And in our endless pursuit not to fall victim to the virus, for a moment we seem to have forgotten to take care of our souls.

Personally, and as an organizational consultant specializing in cross-cultural communication, I can tell you that I chose my profession out of a great love for people, meetings, overseas flights and new experiences. That means that before the Time of Corona, each new project with each new customer offered me a chance for learning and evolving, an opportunity to realize my dreams.

Now that work meetings are almost exclusively virtual, I can admit that the new normal is convenient and especially effective. I was surprised by how much I got done this year; I met lots of people and led many workshops throughout the world – one week in Japan, India and the U.S. – on Zoom, of course. So not one second was spent on driving or flying.

Working remotely, I remained remote from interesting adventures, remote from instructive meetings, remote from chance encounters with diverse people and forming significant new ties. I remained efficient in time and less efficient in amassing new experiences to think over and learn from…

I’d imagine that many others throughout the world probably feel the same as I do. They are working effectively but something is lacking on the emotional-experiential level. Research by McKinsey studied what workers do actually want in this new era, and found that they “are hungry for purpose, to feel their work is valued, and their opportunities are growing, all in a comfortable physical and digital environment with the right work–life balance.”

That’s quite a bit – both having a purpose and feeling valued. Not only growth but also comfort. And all the while maintaining a healthy balance between home and work. I believe that while we have been focusing so hard during this time to succeed in all these goals, we became hungry for something new, perhaps better. Maybe something with more emotion involved.

Deloitte published an article emphasizing that Corona still being here affects us greatly. “There is no ‘waiting for a better time.’ The time to start humanizing the future of work is now.” Also, instead of calling it “humanizing the future of work,” we could call it “seeing to our spiritual wellbeing.” Rather than just life-work balance, growth and convenience, this is the time also for making room for yourself – for social meetings, for altruistic initiatives, for giving… based on each individual and what suits them best.

After all, while it’s true that many of those who contracted Covid-19 continue to struggle with their lung functioning and physical breath, people who did not get sick were all heavily affected as well by the lockdowns, restrictions and frequent changes in regulations. Every one of us is seeking “fresh air” – to breathe oxygen freely without those bothersome masks.

Doing so necessitates a new understanding that even those who have not (yet…?) caught the virus have been hurt over the past 1¾ years. This period changed us and forced us to think and behave in unfamiliar ways, emotionally and not just practically.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Tali Versano Eisman is the Deputy Director of the Resilience Center in Israel, which advises on and helps develop personal, family, community and organizational resilience for citizens of Israel. Despite the country approaching the end of the fourth wave of the Coronavirus, Tali recently wrote the following words:

Wearing a Routine / Tali Versano Eisman (Loose translation into English)

I’m trying to put on a routine

That’s too big on my hips

And too tight around my neck.

It’s not its fault it was

Folded away in the closet

Among other stuff for so long.

And in the meantime, well,

I’ve changed.

 

On a personal note, I’ll just add that I hope we can all get back to our beloved routines as soon as possible. For me that will mean returning to in-person meetings with people, flying to conferences and workshops. Having new experiences. And I’m fine with being less efficient sometimes and “wasting” some time on flights and traffic jams. It’s all for a good cause: undergoing real, not virtual, encounters. Human contact – for the soul!

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