Normally, the holidays around the turn of the year serve us to come to rest, to reflect, and to recharge our batteries in the company of the people we hold dear.
This time everything is different. We had either far too much rest, or none at all, depending on how things looked professionally for us in 2020. The circle of loved ones was extremely limited over the holidays. Many had worries about rather than joy with relatives. In addition, the lockdown is likely to run longer, so we didn’t have a clear break on Jan. 1, 2021.
What does that mean for how we feel? And what does it mean for any supervisors who expect their employees back at work in January, whether in the office or home office? The good news is that we learned how to work virtually during 2020. Just about everyone can do it, some like it, some not so much – but it allows us to continue to pursue a job.
The importance of personal meetings
At the same time, we’ve learned the importance of face-to-face contact, and even physical proximity, with other people. In 2020, we were torn between the desire to be close to people and the fear of getting infected in the process. However, that didn’t destroy the need for closeness. The importance of physical closeness for humans can already be observed in newborns, who compete very successfully for this attention.
So what does this mean for companies expecting their employees back in January? They will certainly meet people who are full of energy and drive. They have used the days of rest for themselves, recharged their batteries and are looking forward to finally being able to get back to work. At the same time, they will also meet people at their workplace who have been rather tired during the days off – despite the rest, good food and nice presents. They missed what the New Year’s holidays are all about: getting together with a large family, with friends, going out, celebrating exuberantly and, above all, the diverse personal exchange with other people.
How can companies deal with this – especially since the opportunities for intensive personal contact and closeness remain limited? One option, which has been cultivated in many companies since before the Christmas season, is virtual coffee breaks through to small celebrations. They make it possible to stay in touch with other team members informally and yet personally. These simple tools should therefore definitely be retained and even expanded if possible.
From what can new ideas for virtual togetherness be drawn? Let us be inspired by the concepts of agility. Every working day could begin with a brief joint update: How are the individuals doing? What could be done the day before, what is on the agenda for the current day? Who would need support from the team, which topics should be discussed in a smaller circle?
Such virtual meetings keep the exchange lively and ideally there is also room for personal things – just like the conversations that usually take place in the coffee kitchen or over lunch in the cafeteria. Other opportunities for virtual exchange are also possible thanks to numerous new apps and creativity: from brainstorming together on the virtual whiteboard to serious and less serious surveys to entertaining things like small joint games or creating a team playlist on Spotify. So take advantage of the many opportunities offered by new technologies.
Meet the manager
And who knows: Perhaps the managers will also get involved in the virtual exchange and thus get close to the employees. After all, they too have ideas and questions for the future, perhaps even plans or dreams that have emerged over the course of the last few months and are worth discussing. And yes, personal and human aspects are also allowed to flow in here; virtual touching should not be taboo, even among and for managers.
If you need spiritual and moral support for planning or new ideas: I am also very happy to be available to you as a coach!