Back in the ’90s, when I was a student, one of my favourite bands was Welsh Indie-pop band Catatonia. On their first album was an ethereal track called Strange Glue, and (if I remember correctly), the open lyrics stated that “It was strange glue that held us together, while the world fell apart at its seams”.
These lyrics have come back to me so much over the past few weeks, as I’ve witnessed not only the devastating news, economic impact and overall sadness and despair that has come with Covid-19, but also the amazing resilience, positivity, and kindness shown by people in such unprecedented circumstances.
I’ve observed, and been actively involved in, the formation of new relationships and acquaintances; people offering help and advice, be it practical or emotional support.
Professionals that were rivals, are collaborating to share best practices and are being totally transparent on how they’ve been impacted with open and honest requests for help.
Some of the busiest people I know are setting up voluntary committees and task forces, finding the time to ensure their skills, networks and expertise can be shared with anyone who needs it.
I’ve been particularly impressed with how everyone has adapted to a suddenly enforced ‘Work From Home’ policy.
In most cases this is a policy that is carefully planned, with coaching and management techniques put into place to ensure performance stays at optimum levels, the WFH employee has all the tools they need, and the tasks during WFH periods are clearly laid out.
In this instance, however, people have had to adapt on the spot, clearing out space (in many cases) in a spare bedroom, kitchen table or other space not really conducive to a productive day’s work and with new KPIs and Goals being set that are feasible for this unusual situation.
Speaking for myself, I could not be prouder of my team, many of whom have never worked from home, many of whom are worried about family and friends health and job security, and (in context of the recruitment sector), dealing with anxious candidates and recent hires who may be worried about job security.
The team has remained calm and positive, and I know the same applies in businesses all over the country (and the world). They are, on a daily basis, innovating, automating and suggesting new processes and modus operandi that will not only make it possible to keep business operating as usual – as much as one can in the current climate – but that will actually improve normal day to day operations once we get back to the office.
Virtual meetings have usually been the reserve of the professional, but in these past few weeks, there has been an upsurge in Virtual Social Gatherings. Coming from an enormous extended family, I’ve enjoyed ‘virtual drinks’ with cousins and relatives, Team TalentHub are using it daily for both formal meetings and 6 O’Clock informal get-togethers (and Rory’s birthday drinks this week!) and it’s helping people up and down the country keep in touch, celebrate mother’s day and generally stay connected.
In addition, many of us parents are utilizing virtual meeting platforms for our children’s education and keeping them in touch with their friends.
In 2020, we do at least have the technology (most of it free, as a bonus) to continue to communicate, share documents, conduct meetings and presentations and stay visible to our teams, stakeholders and personal connections – something that only a tiny percentage of the population had access to a decade ago.
Without getting political, I have (so far) been impressed at how our interim government appears to be committed to helping businesses, SMEs in particular, to ensure that where possible, individuals remain gainfully employed, likewise, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many suppliers and providers are offering payment holidays or deferred invoicing to ensure their customers can carry on with business during this time of reduced cashflow.
I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Adam Harris, brother of Minister for Health Simon Harris, and advocate for Autistic people throughout Ireland via his charity, Asiam.ie, speak at the National Recruitment Federation annual conference only a few weeks ago.
He gave a truly inspirational talk about how the ‘normal’ working environment is not conducive to such a huge number of people on the spectrum (as well as people with physical disabilities or other conditions that mean either the sensory and physical environment impacts them negatively).
Bearing in mind the demand for talent is at its highest on record, employers are instantly ruling out a large number of extremely talented candidates by not offering them remote working, the opportunity to work in an isolated space (for some individuals) or other tools and supports that would facilitate them making valuable contributions towards a company’s goals – it will be interesting, post Covid-19, to see how many businesses now accept that not everyone needs to be in the office and interacting in close proximity with teammates, customers and stakeholders.
I”m hoping that there will be something of a Renaissance once this is all over – perhaps we won’t return to normality, perhaps the ‘new normal’ that we are hearing so much about will involve a more flexible approach to the working environment, perhaps we will finally embrace conditions that are much more inclusive.
Perhaps we will all reset our thinking on what is important in life and value ours, and our families, health to a level we didn’t before.
Perhaps we will finally appreciate front line staff and advocate for them in future campaigns around pay for nurses and better conditions in hospitals.
It’s probably safe to say we definitely have a new respect for staff in retail, supply chain, and distribution, and the overused phrase of ‘if you don’t study hard, you’ll find yourself stacking shelves in a shop’ doesn’t seem appropriate anymore, now that these are the people keeping the country going.
Perhaps we will appreciate the people minding, and educating our children, now that so many of us are having to do this on top of working from home.
Perhaps none of these appreciations will happen, and we’ll just go back to the old normal. But I, for one, hope that is not the case, and our new normal includes much higher levels of happiness, gratitude, positivity and inclusiveness.
Let’s hope that Covid 19 is indeed, “Strange Glue”, and continues to hold us together and forge positive relationships and the sense of ‘In It Together’ whilst this is all going on around us.
Stay safe, healthy and positive, one and all.
Author: Ellie Doyle
Ellie brings a pragmatic approach to clients hiring challenges, and believes in the power of asking the right questions. She has a phenomenal network of industry contacts – if anyone knows the person for the job, its Ellie. She is famous for her ability to retain even the smallest detail.