Row, row, row your (own) boat!

I attended a brilliant webinar recently, delivered by Simon Rickman of PEAK Performance & Potential Ltd, facilitated by the CPD Standards Office, all about this evolutionary phase of the working world we’re entering into post-COVID – and how organisations can effectively transition people back into the workplace.

Simon and I concur on a number of things when it comes to managing the process of getting people comfortably & safely though this transitional period, which of course, is an unprecedented one – not least of which is the recognition (and respect) that everyone’s situation is different and unique and everyone’s feelings about this transition are different and unique too.

As I’ve been waxing lyrical about over the last 18 months – we are NOT all in the SAME boat! We have all been rowing our OWN boat over the course of this pandemic – it just happens to be the SAME stormy sea that we have been weathering, agreed?

So, please let’s not sit in judgement or criticism of what or how our colleagues or our boss or our friends or family might be saying or feeling about this new World of Work (WOW!) because as we always say, the ONLY thing we human beings have in common is that we are all DIFFERENT.

It’s time we cast aide our own emotions and opinions, just for a moment, and THINK (with our EQ headgear on) what that person or group of people we’re engaging with might be feeling about returning to the workplace, as the world opens up in an attempt to resume some sense of normality – however hybrid or pivoted that new normal might look like in the months or years to come.

Some of us are actually feeling excited, delighted, even ecstatic about the opportunity to get back to the ‘real’ world of work. They’ve really missed that human, social interaction with their colleagues and the virtual world has NOT looked or felt the same for them over the last 18 months.

Some have been ready to return to the new normal way of working for quite some time – hanging on with bated breath at every MSTeams update briefing or Zoom call, desperately waiting for the go-ahead to renew their bus pass or season ticket, so they can start planning the daily return journey back to their revamped COVID-secure workplaces.

Others are actually in a state of panic or shock or apprehension and sheer dread about returning to the workplace, no matter how COVID-secure or sanitised their employers have made their workstations. They’ve got used to a new comfort zone over the last year and a half and actually, it’s given them a few surprising benefits – better work/life balance; a stress-free journey to & from work and more headspace to THINK and properly plan projects &/or important tasks, without the daily interruptions of pointless meetings, problem customers or staff issues to deal with (at least not so frequently!)

As Simon Rickman reminded us on the webinar, we MUST pay heed to Abraham Lincoln (or the 15th century monk & poet, John Lydgate dependent on who you believe the original quote is attributed to!) at this challenging time of evolutionary change:
“You can please some of the people all of the time and you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”

We’d do well to follow Lincoln’s or Lydgate’s sound advice when it comes to transitioning people back into the workplace, whether your organisation is planning to adopt a phased return-to-work approach or whether they’re aiming for the hybrid model in the future, because you’re NOT going to please EVERY employee, whatever you decide – what’s the best outcome for some will be the worst possible one for others.

If you ARE adopting a hybrid return-to-work approach, you may find our ‘7 Super Secrets of Hybrid Working’ FIT Matters blog a really useful article to reflect on – if nothing else, you can learn how to ‘Blend it like Beckham’ and catch another glimpse of that gorgeous face right here:


We’ve talked about the need for RESILIENCE many times during this pandemic and you may recall our very special FIT Matters blog, citing the inspirational Rob Law, founder of the multi-million pound global brand, Trunki – which was a business opportunity turned down by all 5 Dragons in 2006.

Widely known to be one of the Den’s most successful ‘rejects’, since appearing on the show, Trunki has won over 100 design awards; has sold over 2.8 million suitcases in over 100 countries across the globe; employs 80 people at Trunki’s UK factory in Plymouth and Rob’s HQ in Bristol; all Rob’s creations are designed in England, distributed worldwide and recycled AND in in 2011 Rob Law was awarded an MBE for Services to Business.

Despite having recently been involved in a number of intellectual property battles with companies creating similar products to Trunki – including an ongoing legal battle with Hong Kong rival PMS International, the Trunki brand looks to continue its growth ascent with latest published revenues of over £8m.

No wonder Dragon Peter Jones ‘fessed up about his regret in not investing in Trunki all those years ago! And this global success story is proof that with the right attitude of steely grit, determination and resilience, anything is possible. Rob Law is an incredible, shining example of entrepreneurial stardom, which has been achieved as a result of unwavering RESILIENCE in his hard-fought journey to success – in both his private & public life…and we’d do well to take a leaf out of his book too, of we want to learn how to become more RESILIENT!

Simon also talked about the need for AGILITY on the webinar – we’ve been talking about that too over the last several months, referring to it as the need to be FLEXIBLE and ADAPTABLE to both people and situations at this challenging time, and I guess being agile means the exact same thing.

Those who have successfully FLEXED their entire business & working lives this last year – moved seemingly unscathed in and out of 3 lockdowns; worked from home one day and demanded back into the office the next; done a bit of both and ‘pivoted’ like crazy, will undoubtedly prove the most AGILE as we emerge from this unprecedented period of challenge and change.

They’ll be the ones who will survive and thrive in this new World of Work we’re moving into and WOW! I sure hope I’m one of them, given MY degree of flexibility over this last 18 months😊

So, in summary, it seems there are 3 clear skills &/or behaviours we need to adopt (and quickly) if we are to enjoy this new evolution of working life….

1. Develop EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, so that you’re better able to build rapport, empathy & trust with others as we, and they, transition into this Brave New World – and respect the fact that not everyone will feel the same way as YOU do about a safe & comfortable return to the workplace.

2. Develop a RESILIENT approach – to work AND life. Resilience is the process of being able to adapt well and bounce back quickly in times of stress, having the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties (such as those that COVID has brought us). Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician & human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being RESILIENT, often referred to as the 7Cs and you might like to consider just ONE of these components to work on, in order to build greater RESILIENCE into YOUR business and personal lives, as we press on with 2021:

* Competence
* Confidence
* Connection
* Character
* Contribution
* Coping
* Control

3. Develop AGILITY – we need to be more flexible and adaptable, to people and situations, both in AND out of the workplace, and become more AGILE – in our thinking and feeling and doing if we’re going to emerge triumphant on the other side.

Things don’t (and won’t) always turn out the way we’d like them to, or expect them to, however, when we learn to flex our thinking & response to these situations, and change course if /when necessary, then our ability to be more agile WILL increase.

If things don’t go right, go left – because a bend in the road is NOT the end of the road, unless we fail to make the turn, right!?

Until next time – safe sailing and keep FIT!

Best regs,
Marie X

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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