I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to capture what I’m hearing in the market since the abrupt shift to WFH in mid-March. Our pre-coronavirus definitions of work life balance have clearly been disrupted and upended. It’s not that we all had the perfect work life balance before, but we had a semblance of structure that defined our days. We had boundaries that allowed us to carve-out a little personal time and space when we weren’t expected to be “on” and before parenting or care-giving roles kicked in.
Technology gave us the gift of 24/7 as we pursued the ideal and, yes, seamless transition. One client so aptly referred to this adapted state as “work life integration.” With so much pressure to prove our ability to be more productive and connected than ever, I began to hear threads of burnout. On one hand, the asset management industry has risen to the occasion quite impressively in terms of empathy and flexibility. On the other, so many people are stretched thinner than ever between work, childcare and home-schooling – not to mention the need to re-imagine summer vacations and camp.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, this too shall pass, but what will we have learned and how we can we use that knowledge to best position ourselves for the future? None of us know exactly how the firm of the future will be comprised or how the new normal will be defined, but we can adapt some of the qualities I highlighted in my February 21st blog to make sure we remain relevant, connected and resilient.
- Adaptability and agility can help us to be forward-looking as it relates to business needs and the application of our skills to the new environment. Being stuck in the past and on things we cannot control adds to our stress levels. Imagine life a year or two or even five from now and how you will want to frame your response and accomplishments in this unprecedented time. How, for example, will you have brought some measure of innovation to the new rules of engagement? What new skills will you have developed?
- EQ/Interpersonal Skills and relationship building are more critical than ever. We’ve all had to adapt to Zoom and similar platforms but it’s important to seek opportunities to connect so our remoteness doesn’t define what it means to WFH.
o Where possible, meet people in person. Go for a walk or find a park bench that allows for a socially distant visit.
o Have 1-on-1 video chats instead of a phone call.
o We seem to crave more talk but it’s important to think of a scheduled call like a meeting and be respectful of people’s time. The room may be different but let’s not forget how to read it.
o Schedule social time with your team or clients. Trivia Night, Family Feud and Pictionary can be fun games to play together over Zoom that can keep us connected and remind us of why we enjoy each other’s company.
o Double up on empathy – not everyone is in the same boat.
- A willingness to invest in your career. I was big on this back in February and am even bigger on it now. Ask what, if anything, has changed in your current role or career path due to the crisis and how it may impact your goals. Be proactive. Volunteer to be on a task force or initiative that offers greater insights into changes to the business. With many firms on hiring freezes, this could be a positive for your career mobility. Ask for feedback from people you trust, have an honest discussion about developmental areas and get their views of the future. Only then can we fill in gaps and invest in key areas for growth.
I’d love to make this a dialogue so we can all benefit from ways others are dealing with WFH. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly.