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Breaking the Ice with Holiday Team Building

COVID-19. Child care. School expenses. Commuting. Vaccinations. The new COVID variant. The great return to the office has frozen a lot of workers with fear. And it’s not just fear of the unknown. It’s rebuilding old relationships with coworkers under such new and stressful circumstances. Breaking the ice with holiday team building may make the transition smoother.

Breaking the ice

This phrase conjures up the image of special ships crashing and crushing their way through megatons of arctic ice. But it was actually William Shakespeare who first used the expression regarding social encounters. In his 1590 play “The Taming of the Shrew,” he  applied the expression to Kate, the shrew who was considered bossy, brassy, and cold. To “break the ice” meant contriving a way to bend her will and control her actions.

Icebreaking in the workplace

Here, too, there’s a level of manipulation and control involved, but the ultimate agenda is team building instead of domination. challenges us to first understand the concept of ice in the workplace: “Before we get into the importance of icebreakers, we first need to address the notion of ice. What are we referring to when we say ‘the ice needs to be broken’? A basic understanding of this concept is crucial to properly use an icebreaker tool to your advantage.” 

Today this concept at work refers to removing barriers, creating harmony, and developing a sense of community and cohesion. But what barriers, discord, or lack of community are they referring to?

Differences can cause distance

There are many ethnic and cultural barriers that inspire fear of the unknown. A lack of common values and customs can create discord. And people often form communal bonds only with people who are most like them. 

Ideally, icebreakers can turn strangers into acquaintances and maybe even friends. Interaction creates dialogue, informs communication, and identifies areas of commonality.  Holiday team building can dissolve fears and build bridges to familiarity. These  icebreakers can melt the ice in the mind, the heart, and the environment.

Icebreakers get the cold shoulder

Ironically, most people dread icebreakers.  Past experiences can sour  current expectations so much that  staffers are resistant and bored before they arrive. Many employees march in feeling awkward and uncomfortable—ready for it to be over.

Fortunately, savvy team leaders can break the stigma of icebreakers. The right activity for the right reason can get everybody fired up. And the right activity is always heartwarming!

 Breaking the ice with holiday team building

On the one hand, having to break the ice among familiar coworkers should be unnecessary, since everybody knows everyone. On the other hand, the pandemic has changed many of us—for better or worse. We’re not the same people we were before COVID-19—not  professionally, emotionally, or psychologically. We need to accept that and accept each other as we are now—without judgment or stigmatization. 

Holiday team building activities are perfect bridge-builders because they can strengthen and restore old relationships and make them even better. A Christmas in July event would be an ideal opportunity to spread some cheer among teammates and help some cash-strapped families. 

Example: give a prospective pet parent a starter kit that might be a bit out of their price range. Pet parenting can be expensive. Food and water bowls. Leashes, collars, and car seats. Beds and bedding. Toys and treats. 

A basket full of these items might be just the push a pet lover needs to take the plunge without breaking the bank. And while you’re at it, you’ll discover other pet lovers on your team who are as kitty crazed as you are. And that one shared interest can open the door to relationship building.

Compassion for COVID-19 sufferers

And while most of us are enjoying the  July fun and sun, lots of your neighbors are COVID patients languishing in local hospitals.  So Christmas seems a long, long way off.

You and your colleagues can cheer them up safely and generously right now. Lotions, lip balms, magazines, puzzle books, snacks, and other treats can help them pass the time more easily.

Instead of dwelling on how sick they feel, their thoughts will turn to you, your kindness, and their wonderful gifts. And you and your team can share fond memories of those you’ve lost to this dread disease and perhaps honor their memory through your donations.

Holiday team building in July can break down emotional barriers among your colleagues which were built during remote work assignments. And your community will benefit from your charity and support at the same time.


When Charitable Team Building is a Lifeline

Like a lightning flash,  COVID struck the world with titanic force, destroying homes, families, and businesses. “Normal” as we knew it ended, and  many of us in corporate America are still fighting to survive. Not surprisingly though,  many entrepreneurs realize that the best lifesavers involve saving others. That’s when charitable team building is a lifeline—when you reach out to help the needy, you also save yourself.

A huge impact on the smallest victims

More than half a million Americans have died of COVID-19—a number that has our heads and hearts reeling with grief and horror. But the devastating affect on our children is almost impossible to measure.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has hit children on multiple fronts. Many have experienced social isolation during lockdowns, family stress, a breakdown of routine, and anxiety about the virus. School closures, remote teaching, and learning interruptions have set back many at school. Some parents have had job and income losses, creating financial instability—and exacerbating parental stress. Thousands of children have lost a parent or grandparent to the disease….the more major traumas and stressful situations a child experiences, the deeper the impact will be.”

And to compound the problem,  kids are suffering from domestic violence triggered by newly unemployed parents who are frightened and angry. They were also victims of house fires caused by families who cooked more while on lockdown. They’re witnessing more physical assaults, gun violence, and road rage from furious, frustrated adults because of the pandemic. And for these youngsters, the emotional fallout is horrendous.

Eye-witnesses to pain and sorrow

First responders are heroes in ways you’d never imagine. These champions are law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics,  and emergency medical technicians. And every day they rush to the aid of terrified domestic violence victims. They run into blazing houses to rescue families and douse the flames. They confront dangerously impaired drivers, deranged pedestrians, and gun-wielding predators. 

And they do all of this while children are watching—young eye-witnesses to pain and sorrow. They see things no child should have to face. See things they can never unsee.

Stuffing with healing

Mercifully, when many of these First Responders roll out, they’re prepared to help a lot of these little ones. How? With a stash of our Rescue Buddies awaiting  new owners.

Rescue Buddies are toys created during one of Magnovo’s  most popular charitable team building workshops. They’re bears, birds, lions, porpoises, tortoises, and mooses stuffed with love and healing. Each one is assembled by workshop participants who engage in friendly competitions to quickly produce the cutest, cuddliest toys. And in the end, everybody wins! 

Kindness is a cure-all

After months of pandemic pressure and Zoom fatigue, returning to the office may be stressful as well. Rescue Buddy workshops are textbook examples of when charitable team building is a lifeline. Each session can ease the transition back into the workplace and help rebuild professional bridges and personal relationships. 

And believe it or not, stuffed animal therapy is a thing! According to the experts at, “… a stuffed animal is not just a toy but a way beyond it. Children start their first relationship playing with stuffed animals or their favorite teddy bear. Yes, that’s scientifically proven. Children will give them a good name & also assign them new characteristics. With this strong bonding with the toy, they learn new things like how to care, how to socialize, how to share and how to empathize with another person.”

And remember: in the end,  everybody wins! These cuddly blessings heal the hearts of corporate teammates, First Responders, and the children who hug them. And right now, everyone needs help to heal and move forward.

Christmas in July Holiday Team Building

Daily life has become a constant whirlwind of change.  Glorious and glamorous. Exciting. Exhilarating. Dramatic. Devastating. We could all use a breather, right? So, how about Christmas in July holiday team building?

Decking the halls for extra dough?

Money is the great motivator for a lot of things. During the summer, Memorial Day and Independence Day sales rake in lots of cash from patriotic American consumers every year. So no doubt a modern-day gimmick like Christmas in July sounds like the ultimate marketer’s ploy, right? Wrong! Turns out it’s not a modern day idea nor is it a marketing scheme.

The idea was the brainchild of a girl’s camp owner in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. There was no snow because this was a summer camp, but that didn’t stop Fannie Holt. As one of the founders and directors, contriving whimsical and fun activities was a part of Holt’s job—and typical of her wonderful personality. 

So on July 24th and 25th in 1933 the denizens of the Keystone Camp in Brevard celebrated the first American Christmas in July! Campers decked the halls, cabins, campgrounds, and everything else with traditional decorations. Everyone drank cocoa, sang carols, and some of the staff dressed up as Santa or his elves. And thanks to Holt, they even had faked snow made of swaths of fluffy cotton.

Falalalala a shopping spree is born

In 1940 the movie “Christmas in July” popularized the idea and by the 1950s it went viral, as we’d say today. While it remains an unofficial holiday, shopkeepers, large and small, embrace the idea with gusto. And because the pandemic shooed people away from their favorite malls, Christmas in July campaigns online are now a boon for millions of retailers.

Christmas in July at work

Of course, even if you’re not a retailer, this idea can still pay off for you. How? Through charitable team building. Now that your troops are back in the office, they may need help adjusting to it. Holiday team building is a great way to break the ice and renew old relationships.

Back-to-school supplies are always welcomed by financially stretched parents. Missions: Kids Care is a charitable team building workshop during which you  accumulate “prizes” throughout friendly competitions to donate to local kids. Notebooks, pens, highlighters, calculators—these items add up and some families can’t afford them.

Picture the excitement of a housebound disabled neighbor getting a brand new wheelchair! Wheelcharity is a workshop during which you and your colleagues actually assemble a wheelchair for a social service organization to deliver to a disabled child or veteran.

And speaking of assembly: Rescue Buddies are stuffed animals you’ll actually assemble, stuff, and then hand off to first responders. They give the toys to children at the scenes of accidents, domestic violence incidents, and other tragedies. Imagine the happy tears of a child receiving a comforting stuffed animal after a traumatic experience. There are so many opportunities to give of your heart, energy, and resources—all while making someone’s quality of life better.

Charity begins at home

The spirit of generosity and the sense of community are good medicine for the soul. And after months of isolation, stress, and uncertainty, making and donating gifts for people who really need support will be amazingly therapeutic.

Your team will begin to gel and bond in ways they’d never have imagined. All because they took their eyes off of themselves and poured their hearts into the lives of needy neighbors.

Wheelchairs: Chariots of Freedom!

The COVID leash slackened just in time for summer. And like caged birds, many of us have joyously flown the coop—headed for parks, beaches, eateries—anywhere outside in the fresh air! All, that is, except the disabled who have no way to get around. For thousands of  disabled Americans “lockdown” has an entirely different, and seemingly permanent meaning. Yet all many of these good folks need are wheelchairs: chariots of freedom!


The ripple effect of COVID

The pandemic created an unprecedented mental health epidemic in America. First came the misery of suffering from COVID-19 and  the fear of contracting the disease. Then came the domino effect of  business failures, rampant unemployment, foreclosures, and evictions. And for those who still had jobs and homes came the new normal of homeschooling and remote work assignments.

The emotional fallout from the subsequent lockdown: alienation, isolation, loneliness, and stress. Now imagine living on lockdown all the time. Long before anyone ever heard of COVID, millions of disabled people were stuck at home feeling isolated and lonely. And all because they couldn’t get around on their own.

American wheelchair users reports that in the U.S. “… there are an estimated 3.3 million wheelchair users, with estimated 1.825 million of those users aged 65 and older, and the number increasing every year with an expected 2 Million new wheelchair users every year….and many children and adults need additional postural support in their wheelchair. Wheelchair users include children, adults and the elderly; both men and women who have a wide range of mobility impairments, lifestyles, life roles and backgrounds; living and working in different environments including rural, semi-urban and urban areas.”

And for kids with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or other disabilities, their wheelchairs must change or grow as they do.

The world on wheels

A wheelchair may not seem like such a big deal—until you need one. That’s when you realize what a wonderful difference it can make to your quality of life. So what, you may ask, can having a wheelchair do? Well, the answer is not what the wheelchair can do so much as what it enables the owner to do: 

Wheelchairs really are chariots of freedom to do all kinds of things. There’s swimming, for instance, or the other pool party, aka billiards. And if you strike out at the billiard table, there’s always bowling. Boating, fishing, basketball, and dancing—wheelchairs enable the disabled to savor the pleasures of life like the rest of us!  

That’s because they are like the rest of us! And a lot of venues around the world take this to heart! Here’s a short list of the places that welcome wheelchair users with open-arms:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art [aka The Met] in New York
  • The Louvre in Paris
  • Disneyland
  • Disney World
  • Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio TX-which was designed specifically for the disabled 
  • The Smithsonian Institution in our nation’s capital
  • Legoland—every single one on the planet!

Enabling the disabled

How would you like to help a few of your housebound neighbors get out and see the world?  Magnovo’s WheelCharity Team Building Workshop is the perfect vehicle for you—pun intended. That’s because afterwards, your team will be on a roll—personally and professionally!

To start, Magnovo will help you identify the disabled veteran, child,  social service organization, or other recipient in your community who needs a wheelchair. Then  you’ll spend the day building it yourself. That’s right! Every nut and bolt will be assembled by your team.

And with the completion of every section, you’ll find yourselves growing closer as colleagues and friends. Each step along the way will require communications and collaborative skills that will help you understand each other better. That’s how strong teams are built. 

Wheelchairs: chariots of freedom for the disabled and extraordinary team building vehicles for your company.

Charitable Events Can Rebuild Teams

COVID-19 made running a business harder than ever. Daily life became scattershot and chaotic. Without a game plan, transitioning back into the office could be equally stressful. Fortunately, creative charitable events can rebuild your teams, restore your confidence, and reaffirm your corporate culture.

Mounting miseries

Remote work assignments helped millions of businesses—large and small—stay afloat. Unfortunately this was a monumental shift that many found difficult to adjust to. It transferred a lot of work-a-day stress into people’s homes where home-schooled kids competed with parents for space and enough quiet to function. Plus, as thousands of businesses failed, millions were left unemployed and at risk of losing their homes as well. 

Joblessness, food scarcity, foreclosures, evictions, and the looming threat of homelessness increased daily. All this, along with the fear of contracting COVID, turned many homes into powder kegs. Sadly, this  triggered an emotional implosion of epic proportions across the country.

According to,“The COVID-19 pandemic led to an exacerbation of pre-existing hardships and disparities in many vulnerable populations, including individuals affected by intimate partner violence….In the first weeks after school closures and stay-at-home orders were implemented in March 2020, for example, municipal law enforcement agencies in Alabama, Oregon, and Texas reported significant increases … in arrests or calls related to domestic violence compared with the previous periods.”

And a study conducted by the University of California revealed that “… increased social isolation during COVID-19 has created an environment where victims and aggressors, or potential aggressors in a relationship, cannot easily separate themselves from each other.”

In addition to many fiery domestic fights, some of the homes themselves burned up. And the reason is painfully simple: during the lockdown, people cooked more, so there were more accidental kitchen fires.

Restlessness and reckless behavior

At the beginning of the pandemic the number of auto accidents decreased because there were fewer cars on American roadways. However many people grew increasingly restless and unstable, and they vented their frustrations behind the wheel. 

For example, according to,  a study by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “… found that drivers who were seriously injured or were victims of fatal crashes had taken risks such as speeding, or not using seatbelts or had been driving while impaired. More drivers took alcohol, cannabinoids, and opioids during the second quarter 2020, than they apparently had done prior to the pandemic.”

Team building can help

Your team may be sick and  tired of witnessing all of this madness. But you don’t have to feel helpless. You can make an immeasurably big difference in the lives of the littlest victims. Here’s how!

Every day, first responders in your community face frightened, confused children at the scenes of  car crashes, house fires, and incidents of domestic violence. Those who are spared physical injury suffer major emotional trauma and they need something to help them cope. That’s where you come in. During one of our Rescue Buddies Charity Workshops, your team can create toys to help these kids heal.

Team building can heal

Rescue Buddies are bunnies, bears, birds, and other stuffed animals you’ll actually assemble during our workshop. The assembly process is a team effort that will upgrade everyone’s collaborative and communication skills. And your colleagues will get to know each other in a whole new way.

Then your adorable batch of cuddle-bugs will be doled out to firefighters, EMS personnel, and police officers to stash in their vehicles for safekeeping. Why? To make sure they’re ready to give a distraught child a new loveable buddy to help rescue them from their recent trauma. 

Rescue Buddies do triple duty: they comfort children and make first responders feel like super heroes. And best of all, they bond corporate team mates like nothing else ever will!


The Importance of Self-Awareness


How well do you know yourself? What makes you a good leader? Would you follow you? Why or why not? These questions may be hard to answer, but they reveal the importance of self-awareness.

Who do you think you are?

So who are you? Not just the “masked” or the public face you present, but the real you? Do you understand the person behind the mask? Do you like what you see? 

Are you honest about your strengths? Do you even acknowledge your weaknesses? If so, what are you going to do about them? Are you willing to put in the work to become a better you? Or do you expect your staff to put up with your defects because you’re the boss?

Would you follow you?

Are you a legend in your own mind? Captain of core competencies. Master of the deep dive. Favored lunch companion in the executive suite. Chances are that your rapid rise up the corporate ladder and the accolades you received along the way may have inflated your self-image. 

According to, “Psychologist Tasha Eurich coined the phrase ‘CEO’s Disease,’ which is when someone works their way up the corporate ladder and gets less self-aware because they receive less and less candid feedback.”

Getting to know you…

As a leader, are you aware of the attributes of your character that inspire people to trust, believe, and follow you? Do you possess “metacognition”?

The concept of metacognition, according to, is “…literally, the ability to think about our own thinking. Being able to turn our thoughts on ourselves is a defining feature of being human. But we often overlook the power it has in shaping our lives, both for good and ill. The importance of good self-awareness can seem less obvious than, say, the ability to make mathematical calculations, or remember facts. Instead, for most of us, metacognition is like the conductor of an orchestra, occasionally intervening to nudge the players in the right (or wrong) direction.” 

…Getting to know all about you….

Metacognition is quite a mouthful, but it provides invaluable  insight into the importance of self-awareness. And taking the first step in this reality-check requires the courage to risk transparency.

If this sounds like a pretty scary prospect, it really doesn’t have to be—not if you use a safe approach like DiSC personality profile discovery. Like the rest of us, you’ve got a special combination of the 4 basic personality traits: Dominant, Influential, Supportive, and Conscientious. Understanding the blueprint of your own personality can be a joyous journey and an invaluable opportunity to become a better you.

The importance of self-awareness through DiSC

DiSC personality profile training is not a one-size-fits-all  program. Customization is the context of everything said and done during each session. It is a window into the human heart which is safe to open because it’s non-judgmental and wholly accepting of everyone. Which means that the more you learn about yourself and others the more accepting you’ll be—of yourself and everyone else.

And better still, when you identify characteristics you’d like to improve, DiSC lays out a supportive, guilt-free path for you to follow. DiSC coaching tools will strengthen your communications and collaborative skills. 

When conflict management skills are needed, it will help you understand workers and their quirks with greater compassion. And ultimately your entire corporate culture will become healthier—and we all know that  a happier workspace makes for happier workers.

DiSC is a map through the mind-field of self discovery. Heightened self-awareness also increases emotional intelligence and together they makes your humanity a valuable professional asset. Invest your time and energy in DiSC personality profile training and watch your ROI soar. 

What Will it Take to Bring Women Back to Work?

American women left their jobs in droves because of COVID and the void they left is huge. How huge is huge? Well, it’s estimated that their absence will create an annual deficit of 64 billion dollars in lost wages and economic growth. So the question is what will it take to bring women back to work?

The exodus

In September, 2020, reported that 40% of working parents have had to change their employment situation, according to a new survey from career website FlexJobs. Of those polled, 25% voluntarily reduced their hours and 15% quit entirely. Of those who quit, 38% don’t plan to rejoin the workforce.”

The economic and social impact

And there’s this intel from “While all women have been impacted, three major groups have experienced some of the largest challenges: working mothers, women in senior management positions, and Black women. This disparity came across as particularly stark with parents of kids under ten: the rate at which women in this group were considering leaving was ten percentage points higher than for men. And women in heterosexual dual-career couples who have children also reported larger increases in their time spent on household responsibilities since the pandemic began.”

Ultimately though, working mothers bore the brunt of the onslaught and woke up to a living nightmare every day. The Harvard Business Review reported:Working mothers have been forced to quit or drastically reduce their hours as balancing work, childcare responsibilities, and remote school have become untenable.”

The economic shut down erased more than 11 million jobs in retail, travel, hospitality, and restaurants—jobs mostly held by women. Additionally, wages were lower and the hours often scanty for those women who were still employed. 

Added to this disaster was the fear of contracting COVID and infecting their children; the burden  of unaffordable child care, and the stress of home-schooling while working remotely or job hunting.

“The cost of child care hit another all-time high in 2020, rising 2.2 percent even as parents were forced to slash their overall child-care spending as the economy cratered, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis,” according to

Women’s work

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy said this: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” 

And  a few years later, Whitney Houston echoed this conviction in the song,  The Greatest Love of All—I believe the children are our future/Teach them well and let them lead the way….”

Few of us would scoff at such endearing sentiments. And yet every day our culture scoffs at child care as “mere women’s work.”

The message

More than 2 million women left their jobs in the wake of COVID. They were mothers, leaders, game-changers, social and political influencers. Their departure may have set back for decades the fight for gender equality and pay equity. They fought long and hard for a seat at the table, but now those seats are empty. The stampede from the workforce was loud and long, but did Corporate America get the message?

The mandate

  • Reassess your company’s attitudes toward female employees—especially mothers. Identify biases and be intentional about eradicating them.
  • Incorporate pregnancies and child-rearing into the fabric of the corporate culture.
  • Expand maternity and paternity leave policies.
  • Reevaluate female employees and adjust their roles and their salaries accordingly.
  • Support professional development opportunities for working mothers.
  • Provide on-site child care facilities.
  • Facilitate hybrid work schedules for workers with child care concerns and sick family members at home.  
  • Develop transparent policies that avoid alienating remote workers and favoring on-site workers.
  • Provide mental health counselors, including therapists who specialize in counseling women.  
  • Develop team building activities around mental health care.

American capitalism means developing business models  and corporate cultures for the sole purpose of making money. Profits have motivated companies to reopen their offices and government officials to reopen local businesses. 

But the lessons of the pandemic are clear and the mandate is a sobering one. Making money without making  employees a priority is now a dangerous business model.


Transitioning Back to the Office

Like it or not, for millions of remote workers “the great return” is inevitable. The big question isn’t if, but when. The big challenge: how to make transitioning back to the office as painless  as possible.


CEOs are clamoring for their staff to come back, but many have no game-plan for the transition—and they’re going to need one.

Forbes Magazine reports that “A recent ‘Return to Workplace’ survey conducted by WB Wood, one of the oldest and largest commercial furniture dealerships and management companies in the United States… found that 41.5% of business executives are planning a full-time return to the office. Respondents include executives from companies of all sizes….

“Nearly 40% of business executives with decision-making authority or input on office space decisions expect to return to the office in the second quarter of 2021. Over 70% anticipate a return to the office before the end of this year….Troublingly, according to the survey, of those returning, 60.8% have either no plans to reconfigure their office space or do not have a strategy in place.”


The truth is  that transitioning back to the office seems to make sense for a number of reasons. There’s been an encouraging decrease in COVID cases and an increase in vaccinations.  According to CNBC.COM, “More Americans have gotten vaccinated and fewer have gotten sick from COVID in recent weeks. More than 46% of the U.S. population has received one or more shots and 35% is fully vaccinated [to date], according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

And  state-by-state  schools, restaurants, parks, gyms, offices, and other venues are gradually reopening.  Along with a fresh infusion of capital into the economy and more job availability across the country—all this makes a pretty rosy picture. 


With this rosy picture in view,  some industry leaders are itching to get back into the fray.  For smaller businesses, it means the possibility of  survival and a chance to restore lost profits.  Large and small, many company leaders may feel driven to act in haste. But, if they bring workers back in without a viable plan, they may be flirting with disaster.

Methodical leadership needed

Quelling the zeal to reopen may be painful, but it may also be necessary. Slow, calculated, methodical planning and leadership must rule the day. And the first order of business is preparing for the health and safety of employees.

CNBC.COM reports that “One in 10 employed consumers in the U.S. say that nothing would make them feel comfortable working in an environment around other people.” This is per a recent survey of 8,000 by The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Many respondents said they’d feel less reluctant if they and their colleagues were vaccinated.” 


Among the many concerns business owners and executives must consider and build into their transition plans include:

Reimagined workspaces and policies

  • Social distancing protocols—boardrooms, break rooms, cafeterias
  • Mandatory vs. voluntary masks protocols
  • Compulsory vs. voluntary vaccination policies
  • Redesigned work stations [including plexiglass shields]
  • Sanitation stations
  • Enhanced ventilation 

 Human resources and humane solutions

  • Realistic work hours
  • Destigmatized mental health support
  • Flexible work assignments 

All of these items require ergonomic insights and detailed planning relative to COVID: supplemental budgets, structural installations, personnel retraining— and all of this will take time.

The old euphemism about the survival of the fittest is just that—an old way of saying “man up or move on”—and it may still apply in some settings.  But right now the sacrifice of the forced—those compelled to return to work before they or their offices are ready—may trigger another economic calamity of epic proportions. And this is entirely avoidable with the right guidance by professionals skilled at leading through volatile change.  

The Rush Back to “Normal”

The longing to rush back to “normal” is  probably natural after all these months, but it may not be practical. Resistance to change is natural, too, but it can also be disastrous.

The joy of healing hugs 

Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June; that lands it on the 20th this year. The idea for this venerable holiday was inspired by a loving daughter from Spokane Washington in 1910. Fortunately most of us embraced the idea long before it  became an official national holiday in 1972.

And the Hugs for Health Foundation designated June 29th National Hug Holiday. The idea according to their website: “…[it] encourages us to give hugs to those who need them. On this day, people go out and give hugs at senior citizen centers, hospitals, and other places. The focus is upon elderly, sick and invalid, lonely people and anyone who needs the warmth, cheer, and love that a hug provides.”

That was then; this is COVID

The joys of June! Two delightfully unselfish, joyous celebrations of our common humanity! So full of hearts, flowers, hugs, kisses, and well wishes. That was then—but now we’re in the midst of a pandemic. So ironically social distancing via air-hugs and mask-covered smooches may be the safest way to say “I love you.” 

Many of us yearn for the “good ol’ days” when we always knew what to do. And what we knew always saw us through—as seen through the lens of nostalgia . But this slow-motion reality check called COVID-19 compels us to learn  some hard lessons and learn them well. We simply can’t afford to fail the tests it imposes—there’s no wiggle room in the middle of a pandemic.

So what should we have learned by now?

A CEO’s power to command is no longer sacrosanct. Granted these titans of industry have power to wield, but it should not be wielded against their own employees.  Surely we should understand now that when power is monetized it is more easily weaponized.

Work/life balance matters. And a lot of workers being ordered back to base camp are saying “NO”! And, no, they’re not just being rebellious or insubordinate. They’re being  caring parents, and committed spouses. And they’re also being stretched to their emotional  limits. So some of them are saying no to the stress and expense of interminable commutes, a lack of affordable child care, and  the psychological pressure of longer inflexible hours. And, of course, there’s the fear of contracting a deadly disease.

“Human resources” are not cogs. Ours is a capitalist country and one of our greatest assets is human capital. As defined by Oxford Languages, human capital refers to “…the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization.”

Silos suck. Pivots work. That is to say, departmental territoriality, resource, and information silos can suck the life out of employees and the corporate culture. Cross-departmental collaboration can breathe life into a company, as evidenced by the early “pivotal” days of the pandemic [pun intended].

Hybridization is a thing now. Office-based and home-based assignments are not either/or choices anymore, but many executives cannot accept this. Perhaps their clarion call to return to the office  reflects their  need for control. After all, close quarters facilitate easy oversight and domination, and this may be the only way they know how to command. But it’s not the only way.  Hybrid business models can work if you work them—if you’re willing to work them.

COVID-19 sucks. Its lessons don’t have to. To some, the phrase “rush back  to normal” translates to “being driven backwards by fear”. That’s a natural human emotion, but not necessarily the best way to run a business. So how about this: “a steady pace forward into a new era of business”.  This may prove to be a much healthier call-to-action as well as a more viable strategy for survival.


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