The 2020’s: The Resilient Reawakening

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

Over the last few years, we’ve been navigating the choppy waters of post-pandemic life, with its many changes and adjustments still unfolding.

Among the myriad discussions, I stumbled upon a somewhat ridiculous piece on CNN that sheds light on the etiquette reboot required for young professionals easing back into office life. Apparently, people need a review of appropriate work attire (think flip flops with unclean feet) or the enigmatic world of emojis (like a poop pile) that leave some scratching their heads. And then there’s Marytheanalyst on TikTok, offering her take on dressing for the office, albeit in a just-rolled-out-of-bed fashion.

There’s also a shift in how people are reimagining their downtime, as highlighted by a Wall Street Journal article. Post-pandemic, the adrenaline rush of adventure trips seems to have taken a backseat to the simple pleasure of lounging in a hammock, seeking serenity and meaning in stillness.

Yet, there’s a collective eagerness to move past pandemic discussions. But here’s the thing—ignoring its profound impacts won’t do us any favors. The pandemic era has catalyzed monumental shifts across healthcare, global politics, financial landscapes, and, not least, our work environments. It’s a transformative phase we’re still grappling with, reshaping our norms and expectations.

The workplace, for instance, is a hotbed of evolution. From navigating team collaboration in a hybrid setup to rethinking the use of expansive office spaces and even reconsidering our work wardrobe, as Mary usefully points out, we’re redefining professional life.

Acknowledging the lingering shadow of the pandemic is crucial. It’s about seizing control where possible, especially as the semblance of pre-pandemic work life slowly returns. According to a sweeping study by Steelcase Corporation, which surveyed 30,000 individuals worldwide, Americans pinpointed collaboration space, tool access, focused work areas, team belonging, and workplace belonging as their top necessities in a post-pandemic office.

So, how do we navigate this new terrain with confidence? Here are a few thoughts to consider, adding to the insightful suggestions above:

  1. Hybrid workstyles. There is no one-size-fits-all-all for a hybrid workstyle. You may have your favorite approach, and your company may have its own. Advocating for your preferred approach is essential, and recognizing that it may begin to look like a conspiracy when all businesses start to set clear expectations on return to the office.
  2. Mental Health and Well-being: Prioritize mental health as much as physical presence in the office. Encourage open dialogues about mental well-being and support systems within the workplace to foster an environment where employees feel seen and supported.
  3. Set Expectations for Your Manager: Seek out and advocate for professional development opportunities that align with your career aspirations and the evolving needs of the workplace. Don’t let your manager get away with an annual review and ideas for you to try without getting their commitment to ongoing discussions.
  4. Technology Optimization: I just reviewed my cloud storage capabilities and can store 6 TB of data across five platforms. Put them all together, and I am using ½ of a TB. What a waste of time, energy, and money. I’ll be revamping and canceling a few. Make sure you are using your tech to enable your work efficiently.
  5. Strengthening Resilience: Businesses are placing a premium on resilience—not just as an organizational trait but as a critical individual employee characteristic. Employees may be expected to demonstrate resilience by adapting to setbacks, coping with uncertainty, and recovering quickly from disruptions.

Every decade has a name, whether it’s the “Roaring Twenties,’ or the “Watergate Years,” or the “9/11 decade.” The next six years will round out what will be known as the “Resilient Reawakening,” where we see our capacity to grow from past events and deal with new ones head-on. 

© Richard Citrin 2024

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