• Mila DeChant

WAKE UP Call For Organizations To Rethink Equity

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

What The Pandemic Has Revealed About The Reality of Sustainability

It has been 10 weeks since lock down and companies have been forced to adopt what is considered to be “the future of work” to become “the now of work”. A crisis often pushes us to adopt changes and this global pandemic has pushed many companies to adopt “working from home” to become the new normal. “Work from home” seemed like a far fetched idea a few months ago and to some companies that do allow “work from home”, they have failed to understand that working from home isn’t the same as remote working. Furthermore, working from home shows 2 sides of what it can be and become during a global crisis and a personal crisis.

Most companies have the perception of “working from home” to be the same scenario as it would be when someone works from the office. I recently spoke with many professionals who didn’t have very many positive things to share about their work from home experience during the current pandemic. Some of the struggles shared by both parents and non parents are:

  • Lack of good internet

  • Diffusing conflicts with their children

  • Lack of sleep as forced to catch up on work

  • Ensuring ones mental health is given priority

  • Making lunch for children and spouse/partner

  • Taking care of disabled parent, child, or spouse

  • Stress from being micro managed by leadership

  • Keeping an eye on the dogs, children, and spouse/partner

  • Lack of resources and support from managers or leadership

  • Cleaning up the place from the mess constantly after kids or dogs

  • Juggling homeschooling their children whilst juggling working from home

  • Ensuring medication is provided in a timely manner to disabled or aged dependents whilst jumping in and out of conference calls

Some may argue that the commute time and weekends can be used to prepare meals, medications, and for the week ahead. We took a look deeper into this and this what we found.

Visibility to a human's day

Even if people, who are working from home, are maximizing the commute time, take a look at how long they are working and the responsibilities they are juggling. These are the invisible challenges that are becoming visible. People are left with zero hours to care for their mental wellness, to workout, or to even have down time for themselves.

If the new work from home is highlighting struggles encountered by people during a global pandemic, this then begs for organizations to become conscious of those who work from home during a personal crisis or experience candidates who request to work from home due to personal responsibilities during a hiring process.

A personal crisis can look like having a disabled dependent, an aging parent, coping with death of a loved one, divorce etc. A personal crisis discombobulates someone at a core level. As easy it seems for leaders to push their people to HR and brush it off as “not my job to care for these people” or adopt the narrative of “if you have personal problems, don’t find a job”, then it is time to rethink what leadership is and how conscious the now of work must become.

The hunt to finding the “right” formula for a conducive culture has been going on for years and has increased tremendously over the last couple of years. But the mark has been missed in having bias for action to create and adopt a heart culture that focuses on equity. It becomes our social responsibility to create a space that facilitates our people’s lives regardless whether it’s a global pandemic or a personal crisis. We have to approach well being from a systemic lens as opposed to introducing concepts that treat the symptoms.

The Now of Work must operate from a systemic view of equity and systems looks like this:

Rethink What Full Time Looks Like

Is it really necessary for someone to work 40 hours a week when technology can humanize and liberate many of the monotonous processes. The new full time can look like anywhere from 20 -30 hours a week with full time benefits and a full pay cheque that isn’t compromised. Henry Ford implemented the 40 hour work week in his factory in 1926. We are in 2020 now. It is time to rethink how we can humanize the work week.

Rethink What Work Life Balance Looks Like

We have become products who produce and only rest when there is a glitch in the system. When health takes a toll, you lose the privilege to make a living. We need to rethink how access to vacation days, mental health days, bereavement days, sick days, reset days are made available. Burnout happens for a few reasons and it becomes our social responsibility to care for our people just like how we care for your iPhone and latest gadgets.

Rethink What Flexibility Truly means

Flexibility means equity of time and space. This starts with the options of either working from home or remote working. With technology enabling security, COVID has showed us that working from home has been possible. When we understand what full time looks like and work life balance looks like, it will allow us to understand flexibility at a deeper level. Flexibility is also about challenging the “9-5” work hours - allowing people to start when it is suitable for them to start. When we redesign our cultures for equity and diversity, sustainability follows effortlessly.

Rethink How Performance is Evaluated

People are not robots. People have good days and bad days. Life is happening to them at every second and we cannot expect someone to show up as “Naveen 5.0” at work all the time. Naveen despite him experiencing grief, loss, or burnout. Performance reviews were implemented in early 1800s. Again, why are we adopting something that has not been challenged for over 200 years? We are quick to only look at “performance reviews” from a perspective of guilt and shame and have never approached it from a holistic perspective. When people are enabled, they thrive and when they are disabled, they wither quickly.

Rethink What Support for Growth Looks Like

Growth is about allowing someone to thrive in an enabling environment that allows for their creativity and entrepreneurial skills as opposed to creating a disabling space. Support isn’t about pushing our people to HR or having meaningless 1:1. It is about aligning experiences that catalyst their spark and strengths with opportunities. Support is about being a sponsor as opposed to being a meaningless mentor.

Will you respond to the wake up call to the silent cries of your people or will you continue to adopt what has been done for years?

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