The Future is Now: Working Better Together

The Future is Now: Working Better Together

May 4, 2020

By: Dianne Dickerson and Catherine Saar

We stand on a precipice – of what, we’re not exactly sure since it is still being formed. So, what will we do with it, this one precious pivotal moment? Deep, transformative change is underway, and we are asking ourselves “what guideposts are most useful in a time like this?” What matters as we re-form our work and our ways of being in the world?

There is no instruction manual for this time we are navigating, but we are finding our way together.  At the same time, many people are suffering, and the impact of the pandemic is not evenly distributed. Health, income and educational disparities are front and center.  While the current “COVID Crisis” may be shining a light on these issues, it did not create them. A recent Huffington Post article highlighted  that while about 26 million people have lost their jobs since mid-March, even before COVID-19 hit a quarter of Americans were scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck. An estimated 44% worked low-wage jobs, earning a median income of less than $18,000 a year. More than a third didn’t have $400 in the bank for an emergency.   The author goes on to say, “this system never worked in the first place.” So the question becomes, as inequities become more blatant and obvious, can we marshal both resources and courage to address them in what comes next?  Can this time teach us what is needed to build something better, stronger, and more resilient?

We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another.
Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty.
Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.
Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.
The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages. I think it’s sending us a message:
“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember that you are my guests. Not my masters.”

Haroon Rashid

This makes our team at Integrated Work wonder, what if our world operated from a Human-First perspective with a focus on our home planet as a close second? What might be possible? Rather than longing for a return to “normal” we find ourselves longing for “better.” The excuses we have used about massive change being too difficult no longer apply, we know that now, so how do we use this unique moment to make work, work better?

Could we first hold onto and deepen the trend of relating to each other from a place of shared humanity? As we peer into each other’s homes, we begin to see each other more holistically, and we seem to have begun to dismantle the myth of the corporate façade. While we still have a lot of ground to take in this regard, being in each other’s homes via Zoom has invited us to become more intimate and vulnerable. We notice ourselves relating to each other differently now that we know more about each other. It’s harder to make someone “other” when there is no “them” and when “they” are us. We are all in the same lifeboat now and are creating a different relationship to our work that may lead to different choices as a result. As our interconnectedness becomes more obvious (yes, we have kids, and pets, and lives that sometimes distract and disrupt but also hold us up in tough times) we see more clearly how our individual choices impact the collective, and in turn, the collective impacts us.  In the end, our health and prosperity are joined together.

With this new understanding, we are questioning “what can we do to move our future forward?” Not only is this an opportunity to reconsider how to make work better; that flexible hours and work from home options benefit our families and our planet; that empathy and authenticity support productivity rather than erode it, but also, can we consider how to become more inclusive so that all of us can have our basic needs met?  How might all of us thrive?

Sorting these issues out is bigger than any one government, company or individual.  What part can each of us play? What do you want to see on the other side of this pandemic? What are your fondest hopes for the world to come? What new choices might each of us make to move us closer to that future we imagine? We wouldn’t have wished this on our world, but since we’re here, maybe there is a lot we can do.

Here’s a hopeful video that we enjoyed watching.  Thanks for wondering along with us on this strange journey.  Be well, be safe, and we invite you to share your thoughts and musings about your vision for a better future – one that could be starting now.