The workplace suddenly changed in the early months of 2020, and leaders throughout the world had to operate their businesses in a whole new way.
You might be ready to put 2020 behind you and lock it up in a closet you never want to open again. But before you do, let’s revisit some of the more valuable lessons that 2020 taught us so that we become more mindful for any challenges ahead.
Whether we make it out of this crisis soon or not, 2020 will leave its mark as the year businesses reevaluated the way they operated and shifted the way their leaders interacted with their employees and customers:
Remote work is doable and not a fantasy
Remember when everyone dreamed of lying on a beach and working on a laptop? Well, we’re actually one step closer to that.
The only thing was—we had to pivot. Nothing was planned. Remote work was a sudden need when the pandemic struck, not a perk. So we did it, under no choice. This essentially forced us to reconsider everything: our tech stack, our communication, our schedules. The first lesson learned from 2020: we have to be prepared for absolutely anything.
We faced some challenges, and some of us even missed our commutes. Oh, and we tackled how to transform our homes into a productive environment.
Health is wealth, for the individual and organization
It took a super contagious virus causing a global pandemic to stop people from going into the office while sick. But 2020 taught us something more—that emotional wellbeing is crucial and interlinked with productivity. Isolation and loneliness were problems for nearly 25% of employees that work remotely even before the pandemic shutdown, and leaders were finally waking up to this and addressing it seriously. The mental health discussion also surfaced frustrations about burnout and presenteeism. All these issues were brought to the forefront as the impact of the pandemic increased.
Listening is super essential
Through increased inclusion efforts and better flexibility, 2020 spurred businesses to focus on how to best gather their employees and create a psychologically safe space. Have you allowed your employees the opportunity to voice their ideas, obstacles, and concerns? Intentionally creating listening groups and providing workshops on listening skills is an excellent way to gather crucial information to make employees feel heard.
Being a leader is very difficult
Especially during a crisis. Some businesses had to make decisions that impacted thousands, while others had to go through massive internal changes.
Leaders are the ones that pave the way for employees to understand what’s happening and feel part of a unique culture. Figuring out how to unite and keep employees motivated was never a more critical problem to solve than in 2020. And were you prepared to be honest and transparent when asked how things were? Empathy was given considerable emphasis in 2020, as we all faced hardship in our own very different but relatable ways.
We miss our coworkers, badly
It’s different and challenging not seeing our coworkers in the flesh. After all these months, the honeymoon period of enjoying the flexibility of remote working has led to a huge realization—community matters, and we crave connection. If anything, many of us are sick of being stuck with one person or our household. Taking organizational culture online proves to be a tricky problem, and many struggled to find the right communication tools to take the place of in-person collaboration.
People are more resilient than we think
The most important lesson we learned of all is that people are adaptable and resilient. In our very own ways, we’ve been able to find new ways to make it work. From mastering virtual hiring and relying on memes and gif humor to expressing ourselves to meeting our coworkers’ pets and babies over Zoom, we were all in this together. And we know we will be in it together for 2021 and beyond, regardless of any circumstances.
What are the lessons you learned from 2020? Drop us a note in the comments below!