Finding a Path Forward … Quickly

September 2021

An off-road traffic sign showing an alternative direction

Getty Images

Beyond the worry, fear and suffering caused by the pandemic, people have managed to remarkably change directions in their personal and professional lives, demonstrating great resiliency.

Take a step back from the flurry of pandemic-time workplace changes to notice how your coworkers are able to quickly set aside best-laid plans when current products or services aren’t meeting the needs of the market. 

Pre-pandemic, a change of direction would likely be identified and resolved at a slower pace. Whether a shift in demand for products or services is temporary or permanent, the workforce that enables a smooth transition deserves kudos.  

I recently experienced this situation (and was in awe) when a client had to make the decision to cancel an upcoming hybrid conference and switch to a virtual-only event. The change impacted a project I was buttoning up. The staff involved in the workflow quickly made the changes needed and met the required deadlines. It now seems to be the norm when supportive colleagues rally to help companies quickly align goals to improve revenue or survive in the market.

The way you interact with coworkers can make a big difference. There’s surely a decline in worker’s wellbeing, especially for parents and women due to heavier workloads and considerable responsibilities at home that continue to blur the boundaries between the two. … The burden of maintaining a job without daycare or schools fully open … yikes. According to Deloitte Global’s Women @ Work: A Global Outlook survey of 5,000 women across 10 countries, nearly 80% of women reported their workloads increased because of the pandemic, and 66% of women reported having more responsibilities at home. This issue will likely prolong already-underrepresented women from leadership teams because they are shouldering an even higher burden of childcare and household tasks according to a survey by Boston Consulting Group.

Many colleagues are in an unusual situation with limited resources. Here are some ways you can be sensitive and helpful to your coworkers.

  • Show compassion.
  • Accept the things you have no control over.
  • Acknowledge coworker’s efforts and accomplishments.
  • Be fair when assigning projects.
  • Factor caregiver status when assessing project outcomes.
  • Rejigger a deadline when needed.
  • Share best practices for working remotely.
  • Offer as much information as possible and needed—don’t overload coworkers.
  • Respect a coworker’s time off.
  • Assume that everyone is doing the best they can, so avoid blaming.

Keep dazzling each other!

—Maureen Joyce