I find myself saying this quite often these days. Operating under this next normal, whether I am having work or personal conversations, I continue to challenge myself to find it. Sure, I have my good days and bad days like everyone else. But the good news is these challenging times have brought things to light. Maybe we needed to slow down so we could really think. Maybe we didn’t need to be on every one of those conference calls. Maybe we needed to spend more time on the front porch. Maybe we needed to stop and smell the roses. I found myself cutting a blossom off a blooming tree in my backyard for the first time the other night.
So what has changed?
LinkedIn predicted — prior to the environment we are in now — that empathy would be a theme for 2020 in the talent space. And today, surprise, it is.
I met an old colleague pre-COVID for lunch (wow, that was a luxury I realize I took for granted) and she asked me what the secret to Thoughtworks culture was. I told her this culture existed long before I ever joined, but it was my job to continue to foster it. Even more so today, my role is to help protect it. It’s a crucial time and we need to care even more. Care about our co-workers, candidates, clients and business partners. And it goes without saying our family and friends.
It’s no secret that it’s the people here at Thoughtworks who are our greatest assets, our biggest ambassadors. Due to what we are all experiencing at the moment, considerations of new policies, new ways of communicating, working in a distributed way and flexible work arrangements are all top of mind. According to Forbes, how a company treats its employees today during these challenging times will stay with them for years to come. It’s imperative we open all lines of communication. Employees will remember, you can count on it.
We take our time
From a personal perspective, I recall days not that long ago when I felt light headed because I had too much to do with a busy schedule. I am the mother of two teenagers and in a global role so my best thinking is normally done around 5:30am when I am getting ready for my day. My head is clear.
Fast forward to today. The pause button was hit for everyone. We slowed down. We stopped traveling. We aren’t commuting. Our calendars opened. We are taking a breath. We are enjoying conversation. We are trying yoga. We are walking the dogs. We are adapting.
Universally, I am finding we take our time and we are more mindful and present. We listen more intently. Even though I am the Global Employer Brand lead here at Thoughtworks, which is focused on the employee and the candidate, I find myself being invited to more conversations relative to our clients and other functional areas across the business. I believe organizationally we are taking our time to seek out perspectives and lead with a no-stone-unturned mentality, which holds true to our employer value proposition. Things are more fluid than they have ever been. We are taking our time to listen even more.
Maybe the gift of time has been a little kind?
We are being agile
We had our 2020 global employer brand and recruitment marketing plan in place long before the start of the calendar year, all ready to go. Proudly aligned alongside our recruiting and marketing vision. We were set! But now, we are learning agility (thank you Thoughtworks for the teaching). We adjust and then we adjust again.
Agility is a strength and those who are truly pivoting and seeing that good can come out of this will be the resilient ones. I keep telling my 18-year-old that his graduating high school class will only be stronger for living through this time. They have no graduating stage to walk across to signify their accomplishments for which they worked so hard. They have to video moving their tassel to the opposite side and tossing their caps for a virtual graduation ceremony. They have missed out on some of the best of their final memories of high school. But they have persevered and learned how to adjust. Lessons learned early that will give them strength for a lifetime.
We are persevering organizationally too. Helping our clients in ways we didn’t imagine and enjoying the challenge. Taking the time to look at governance, policies, processes and our communications internally. We are more focused on nurturing those interested in a role within our company versus an overt call to action to hire. And most importantly, we are encouraging and enabling our employees to share their voices and tell their stories, because they are our best brand ambassadors and can truly bring our unique culture to life.
We want to help
New initiatives. Shared resources. Partnering on projects we can now make a priority. We are adapting and predicting and doing this next normal together. I have felt this myself in my role at Thoughtworks. Not only have we made budget concessions to champion the whole of the business, but also agreed to sharing a resource on my team with our corporate brand and communications function to help drive a more robust social strategy.
We are reaching over the functional boundaries within our organizations to extend a hand and a brainstorm. Specifically at Thoughtworks, so much of this holds true to the fabric of who we are, but as we focus on our core purpose and values, our real colors are becoming more vivid.
And there is definitely more of a sense of unity, isn’t there? A company reached out recently and wanted to understand how our team managed a partnership with our global recruitment team and we agreed to the call. I am so happy we did. The call energized me to share our practices and it felt rewarding to have that conversation.
So yes, we are living through unprecedented times and there is no prescriptive roadmap. We can spend our time predicting what’s next, but we can’t lose sight of the present. Whether it’s personally or professionally, there is a bit of good happening right now. Look for the silver lining. It’s there.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.