Got To Be Real

November 2020

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“What you find-ah
What you feel now
What you know-ah
To be real”

The opening lyrics to Cheryl Lynn’s 1978 hit songGot To Be Real” reflects the understanding, acceptance and compassion I see being shared between workers and enterprises as, in many cases, business is now conducted remotely during the pandemic. And, if recent real-life examples are any indication, the new virtual world is working for most of us, even when the occasional mishap happens on camera.

Accepting the Real

Many of today’s employees working in their make-shift offices at home are not there alone. Interruptions are peppered throughout unconventional workdays due to any combination of partners, parents, children, roommates, home-schooling duties, pets, delivery people and more. Work-focused hours that come in fits and starts due to myriad reasons are now widely accepted because many are facing the same situation. The backdrop of our work life is our home life. And, along with the chaotic impact of working from home, it’s brought some humanity back to the workforce as workers are exposed to each others’ domestic life to a greater degree. 

My daughter tells me that her recent Zoom presentation to federal leaders in Washington, D.C., was interrupted by her food-insecure rescue cat’s wailing for more kibble. She texted her roommate working in the next room for a quick intervention (the cat was scooped up out of viewing range). My daughter acknowledged the cat’s cries and moved past the blip. 

During the U.S. presidential race, MSNBC viewers enjoyed a moment of comic relief as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Schapiro was being interviewed by the cable network from his home when his teenage son wandered into the room. Upon realizing his intrusion into his father’s home office, he slowly backed out.

Pivoting Skills Are Being Honed

Yes, Cheryl Lynn’s song is from the disco era, but let’s move on from that one cringe-worthy fact. In 2017, ShortList’s Dave Fawbert listed the song as containing “one of the greatest key changes in music history.” Changing … rapidly … is what we have collectively been doing since March 2020. Workers have adapted to new settings and methods with resiliency and determination in a short period of time. Many enterprises may not go back to traditional workplace norms and environments. 

Recently, one of our clients in the cybersecurity industry successfully conducted their annual flagship conference online. Their in-house staff worked tirelessly to present the once-live event to their global members, keeping this community of cybersecurity professionals connected through keynote speakers who acknowledged today’s workplace concerns, and timely sessions that addressed their challenges. It was more than a professional conference … it was people helping others through today’s conditions.

A conference I have attended in Boston in the past was also converted to an online-only event. Supplier Diversity Manager Carole Sears of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston undertook a virtual version of their annual Engage & Connect event, which connects large enterprises with minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses through matchmaking and sessions. This Herculean effort is another example of pursuing a mission to help others in the workplace in the face of today’s challenges.

Set Your Boundaries

As veterans of working from home, the Twirling Tiger Media team can offer a few tips.

  • There’s no unspoken rule that says you need to video conference for every meeting.  If you’re not dressed for the occasion or there are demands on the household bandwidth, opt for audio only.
  • Consider not conforming to the 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. workday in these unprecedented times. Home schooling, early shopping hours to reduce exposure to COVID-19 or medical appointments need to be prioritized.
  • Accept the not-so-routine imperfections of your work days. 
  • Set your work-related objectives but remain flexible. 
  • Carve out time for self-care—go outdoors, exercise, read a chapter in a book or listen to an uplifting song. 

By the way, in a game of burning questions with TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, artist and influencer Harry Styles stated that that when he is alone in his car he listens to that disco-era classic “Got To Be Real.” (If this tune doesn’t reset your mood and make you move, check your pulse.)

In the meantime, our sensitivity for the human condition is shining through in ways that gives me hope for a brighter future.

Stay well.

—Maureen Joyce