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.

shutterstock 1408530173The 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.

shutterstock 748165192Work/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].

shutterstock 1082417942Hybridization 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.