As the world learns to ’live’ with Covid, it is interesting to see how people in the workplace are redefining their boundaries, leaning into their own personal leadership and perfecting the art of new skills, with a personal style which is noticeably different.
Covid19 has redefined the travel ecosystems of the world as one of the hardest hit industries through the pandemic. Hit by severe lockdowns and the restart of travel initially being slow, has resulted in low traveller confidence coupled with bizarre changing regulations and requirements. The recovery of travel since then, has been exponential (bar a small bump in the road from Omicron) and people at the heart of the industry moved on and reskilled themselves due to financial pressures and the need for alternative forms of livelihoods. The result is massive abrasion in the travel ecosystems and a new path of industry recovery. What can we learn from this industry and how do we support people in our organisations in their own recoveries?
Redefining boundaries: People speak of the ‘great resignation’ as a metaphor for people redefining how they like to work and live. In reality, people are placing firm boundaries on how much they give of themselves to work and how they value and spend their non-work hours. People who reskilled during the pandemic are more inclined to hold those boundaries firmer and not compromise. In the travel industry, people are not coming back to ’old’ roles and the lack of skills is hurting recovery, and by implication, the recovery of the globalised world.
Personal Leadership: With people having been furloughed or working from home for prolonged periods, the very thought of being told where, when and how to work almost seems like a foreign concept. Instead people have taken ownership and responsibility for themselves and their work, in a way that demonstrates a clear leaning into personal power and leading self (as a positive unintended consequence). In the travel industry, the flexibility to reconnect with suppliers and customers has been more instantaneous and as a result a lower propensity to travel initially. The converse is also true as people also yearn for the in-person connection, beyond those in the travel industry, and hence demand exceeding supply of all commodities related to travel.
New Skills: When we think of how we used to do things, and the complete inefficiencies, we have come along way during the pandemic to be smarter and operate in a better, digitised ecosystem. Our ability to learn skills when we are under pressure and have no choice is remarkable. We need to harness this ability and continue our trajectory. In the travel industry, digitisation and personalisation have become key to distinguishing the new client experience. This may have also resulted in roles actually becoming redundant and not needing to come back to support the travel ecosystem.
These lessons from the travel industry allow us to reflect on how far we have come in our professional and personal lives during the pandemic. Harnessing these positive outcomes to keep the momentum of personal growth and learning alive, enables us to get closer to our personal aspirations.
Supporting people in their return to a different work world:
A mindset of flexibility and openness to conversations about a changed workplace, creates a safe space for exploration.
Prescription on work practices might be more necessary for the minority. The majority require guidelines and encouraged individual choice as adults, not prescription.
Teams require deep reflection and engagement on the new ‘how’ of their inner workings and recalibration of new desired ways of being.
Be aware to noticing peoples’ emotional states and learn the signs of distress and anxiety to support people to an enhanced wellbeing.