I have been reflecting on the first half of 2020 and realize that two words keep coming up: agility and resilience. Agility is defined on dictionary.com as the “ability to move quickly and easily,” while resilience is the “ability to recover readily” when facing adversity. Although I believe both are important concepts to embrace all of the time, as 2020 began I never would have predicted just how valuable such fluency would become in a very short period of time.
As an HR professional, I started watching the progress of COVID-19 early in the year, but the week of March 16 stands out to me. At the beginning of the week we communicated a message to our team: people who felt more comfortable working from home could do so, but the office was staying open. By Wednesday, just two days later, the message was very different. There was no more option, we would all be working from home by the end of the day on Friday, March 20. Those two days were the definition of agility. People who had never worked from home before were setup and took their computers home, while people who were already remote patiently waited for people in transition to be able to get back to work. Everyone worked together to accomplish the shift, but by that Friday afternoon it was really eerie walking through the office that typically bustles with people. It reminded me of a scene from a movie—coming upon a building where all of the residents just left. It looked like people abandoned their lives and just took what they could, which sounds dramatic, but really, it was.
Fast forward four months and the office still looks the same, although a few people are there regularly while “social distancing,” another term I never would have thought would be used daily. While back in March the office seemed desolate, now it feels different, like a place awaiting what’s next. With this shift to a different way of working, we have discovered a great deal about ourselves, our team and resiliency. People who said they did not want to work from home unless they “had” to now want to work remotely full-time. Our CEO, Becky, has been recording almost daily videos to post for our team, and even the content in the videos has shifted since March. The videos focused on topics relating to success while working remotely and core value behaviors early on, but have also become a great way to learn about one another as she interviews team members. Becky’s videos give us guidance on continuing to grow into our best selves as she talks with guests, including one of my favorites, her mindfulness segments with her mother.
We, like many organizations, have embraced Microsoft Teams and Zoom, even those on the team who were already remote have experienced a different level of connectedness, possibly because everyone is in the same situation. The little interruptions of pets barking, kids playing and other background noises have become common, people don’t stress about a child popping into view during a meeting, we have learned to adapt to uncertainty. I’m not, however, saying that there is no anxiety or that we have not experienced speedbumps along the way. People don’t know when or how their children will go back to school, our clients face uncertainty about their programs as some budgets are tightened and students decide when and how they will continue their education.
It has been a challenge to stay connected and positive through uncertainty, but I’m proud of our team’s ability to pivot quickly, embrace change and keep moving forward. We work to remember to be grateful every day, to embrace the differences among us, and to remember that with trust, positivity and a willingness to grow we’ll be ready for what’s next.
– Jennifer Fisher, Director of People and Culture