If you follow my Instagram, you will notice a lot of my challenges are tasks that have to do with preparing for the future. A way to be ready for when the world reopens. I have been using this as a coping mechanism, but truly, I do not know if it is working. I am still feeling an urge for the world to get back to the way it was. I’m not sure I’m the first person to float this idea into your head, but I do not think we will ever get back… and I think that is a good thing.
This pandemic, while tragic and I wish it never happened, is shedding light on some aspects of society that needed to be addressed. I feel like in 50 years from now, they will be referring to this time period in the same way we learned about the Industrial Revolution. I am sure while they were living during the revolution, they could not understand the way it would impact the future. I won’t pretend that I even understand the full impact of this time, but I have a few guesses.
Changes in the Workplace
I am tired of hearing people refer to injustices in the office as being the way corporate America is. As new generations join the workforce, I am hoping we embrace a much-needed change. I think the catalyst for our upcoming workplace changes was the Me Too movement. While the Me Too movement is focused on sexual violence, after it began, people started gaining the courage to speak out against other wrongdoings in the office, too.
We spend the majority of our lives at work. It should not be a place where we feel unsafe. Most companies are currently trying to work on their culture to exclude all types of discrimination in the office. This is a step in the right direction. One that is long overdue. I wish the focus on discrimination would help foster a better workplace, but unfortunately, there are other ways to feel uncomfortable at work. Let’s talk about bosses.
Your boss has power over you. They decide if you stay employed. They decide if you should be considered for a promotion. They decide what you learn, how you learn, and who you learn with. They decide what exposure you gain. They decide if you earned a spot to work on a project. They decide if other people get to know the work you contributed to said project. They decide if your workload is so intense, you are forced to work overtime. They have a power over you that no one should have.
I wish that were the extent of your boss’ power because it is already too much. Those are the obvious ways your boss has power over you. Let’s talk about the discreet ways. Their actions signal if it is okay to eat lunch in the kitchen instead of your desk. The way they talk to you could affect your mental health. If your opinions differ, you have to decide if you want to represent yourself or become a robot to mirror their image.
Any time there is a conflict with a boss, people usually talk to multiple peers on how to best handle the situation before approaching. There is no easy way to give your boss feedback. A lot of times giving feedback is so challenging, people would rather find a new job than give it.
There are a lot of people or entities we could blame for this current work culture. Of course, we could blame the companies for not training their managers better. I feel like a broken record, but we need to train managers before they are managers. With any other skill, we need to learn and ask questions. We need to prove we are competent before going out and doing it on our own. Why is managing different?
We could blame colleges. For the amount we pay, you would think they could start adding courses on becoming a manager. Yes, most college students would not be a manager for some time, but at least there would be a general understanding of expectations before it happened.
So far, my work predictions are about creating a safer space when you are at work. My last one is that we will no longer be chained to a desk. This pandemic is proving that a lot of jobs can be done remotely. There has been a learning curve, definitely, but now that we are in a groove, why would we need to go back to the way it was? The biggest reason I can think of is that companies are locked into office leases and do not want to waste money. To me, this is not a good enough motive. There are so many benefits to allowing people to work from anywhere, within reason.
People could travel the world or more realistically, the country. I understand it would be insanely difficult to have employees working throughout the world for tax purposes and also because of time zones. If I could work remotely, for the rest of my working life, I would be able to spend longer periods of time in different cities. I could try more restaurants. I could see more scenes. I could fill my weekends differently. In theory, I could do this now, except it is a pandemic and we are not supposed to be traveling.
I want to work to live and not live to work. I do not want to spend my life “on-call” to the company I work for. If I did, I would have become a doctor. Yes, sometimes disaster strikes, but it should be a rare occasion that people are needed outside of their working hours. I think the concept of working hours can go. People in the workforce are adults. We should treat them that way. I can work with my partners to create schedules for meetings. I know the work that needs to get done.
If my work is done or I am waiting for an email, is there a good reason I cannot grocery shop? I can still answer my email and take a phone call from the store. I am managing my to-do list and deadlines. Does anyone really think my time is better spent waiting for someone to email me back? You are paying me to wait? I thought I was being paid to get the job done. To add to that, if I am being paid to get a job done, it should not matter what my hours are. People work at different paces. If I can do the same job as a colleague in less time, I should gain some time back, not have work added to my plate for the same pay.
I imagine a post-covid life to have a bigger focus on work-life balance. You can finish the job from where you want and at what hours of the day you want as long as you hit your deadlines. When you talk to your co-workers or if you go into the office for a meeting, you will be treated with respect. You will be able to handle conflict with your boss because they will be trained on how to handle these situations. They will ask, frequently, for your feedback. A girl can dream, can’t she?
The Me Too movement was not the only catalyst for wanting to create a safer workplace environment. Black Lives Matter. If you haven’t taken the time already, please look at my BLM Education post. My eyes were opened to the level of injustice that people of color face. I am not the only one.
In 2020, BLM took a huge step forward by raising their awareness. There are new people educated on system racism who are sharing their knowledge with their community. There are more conversations happening at dinner tables. Now that there are more people who are aware, there are more people to fight systemic racism. There are more people who are running for office to take action.
I am not a psychic. I wish I knew the impact this is going to make. All I know is it is going to be big. It has to be.
A nation that was built on being united is currently divided. People are upset and are demanding change. People are becoming the change. People who never thought they would become politicians are running for office. In my opinion, these are the best people to lead us. I want my leader to have no ties to corporations, to owe no favors down the line, to have no major scandals to hide, and to want to truly do what is best for the people. There are very few current politicians who would qualify.
People who cannot run or just don’t want to are still paying attention. They are voting. They are calling their representative when they see an injustice. There are more conversations about politics happening. The masses are getting involved again, the way it always should be.
I am a resourceful woman. I know how to use the internet and in my community, there is always someone who would have the answer to my question. I struggled to get into politics. I struggled to stay informed. I still struggle to understand what my role is. In all of the years that I spent in school, I think I had 10 assignments on current events. I was in school for 17 years.
How is it not part of the curriculum to teach students what is happening in the world around them? We need to teach students how to be involved in what is going on. We need to start young, so when they grow up, they will not be as confused as I am. Every citizen should have an understanding of how to participate in our government, even those without a community that would have the answers.
I want to focus on what I can be doing now, not create a list that is too long to ever complete for the future. The biggest change that I think society needs is to be present again. I want to create a choose now mentality. I want to focus on today and how I can best spend it. If I could pick the most important lesson this pandemic taught me, it is that the future is unknown. No one predicted this. No one planned for this. It just happened.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment” – Henry David Thoreau
Challenge: Try to stop worrying about something that may happen in the future. Focus on what you can control now.