Before working from home, I used to see my many team members on a daily basis: walking past them in the hallways, joining my engineers for random games of Dominion at lunch, popping into personal cubes, etc. There was so much opportunity available for human-to-human interaction without the need for video cameras.
After WFH was established in March of 2020, we felt that it was a nice opportunity to really focus in on what needed to get done. We had less “distractions.” But once we hit the 1 year mark, we almost wished there was a distraction besides kids and pets. At this point, I felt like Gollum: “we forgot the taste of bread, the sound of trees, the softness of the wind.” I felt alone. In fact, many of us did. And over the course of another year, we accepted it as a state of being, but it didn’t stop being lonely.
Sadly, I can see how the lack of human interaction has changed me: I’m more anxious in public, but also over-excited to see people and talk to them. And when I do talk to them, I struggle to fully express myself or even to use the right words. It’s almost as though my vocabulary and social skills have deteriorated over two years. Who am I kidding with “almost?” That’s exactly what happened. And I’m not the only one to be experiencing it. Kids, adults, and even seniors are all struggling to communicate in person, and the levels of depression are astonishing.
I’ve said before that I believe that human beings are social creatures at heart, and that we need each other to be fulfilled and happy. But I never realized how strongly that belief would be proven.
I know that many companies are trying to address the growing anxiety and loss of morale, but they cannot seem to fix it. As a project manager, and now a producer, I’ve taken it upon myself to become a place of safety for my teams. Because not all people are comfortable with reaching out for help, I make myself available and make it clear that I am here for them on both a work level, and an emotional one. I keep hoping that companies will walk the walk rather than talk the talk when it comes to treating people as people and not just numbers… but I still feel like we’re not quite there yet.
Perhaps my ramblings don’t apply to all companies (and I honestly hope that they do not), but for those who say they support their people, I truly hope that you do.
We all need each other right now. So whether we’re at work or out in public or even staying home, just remember that we’re not alone, and we’ll make it.
Hush little baby baby don’t you cry“Irene” by tobyMac
Daddy’s gonna sing you a lullaby
Everything’s gonna be alright
The Lord’s gonna answer your prayer tonight