Lockdown was announced and we went into exile-living, much like the Hebrews were exiled from Israel in Jeremiah Chapter 29.
But God said the Israelites would only be in Babylon for 70 years and the end would soon come. Equally, we are on the tantalising cusp of freedoms and ‘normal’ life.
Except: what is normal?
I imagine when the Israelites prepared to return to Israel that they had to think about what they would take.
Do I need to pack that extra set of clothes?
What about the lean-mean-fat grilling machine? Do they have an Argos in Jerusalem if I leave it behind? (We found our George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine the other day in the cupboard, and what an awesome find it was!)
And so I think we need to challenge ourselves now.
Not about the Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine, but perhaps we need to question what we really need in our work-lives for 2021 and beyond.
In the process of adapting to exile I was forced to abandon 20 years of office working and everything that it entailed; water cooler moments, corridor conversations, Friday afternoon chats, building relationships in an easyway.
Equally, I cut out a lot of waste in my working day and became far more productive.
But I’m not convinced I’m more effectiveworking at home all the time.
So what do I need to bring with me for the return from exile? What practises can I leave in the dustbin of life pre-2020?
The most important thing I’ve realised is this:
It’s all about the people: my colleagues and team.
With that in mind here are my thoughts about how we rebuild and reset into 2021 and beyond…
Keep turning up, keep going
This is more than just being you at work.
This is about chasing the Father heart of God and understanding what this looks like in our 9-5 whilst the world continues to change around us.
It’s about becoming a ‘safe person’. Where colleagues come to you for advice, because they know and trust you – and you’re not going to gossip about their anxieties with others.
It’s about maintaining your integrity in all that you do (but also being shrewd – perhaps a topic for another blog?!).
It’s about developing a reputation where you say what you’re going to do, and do it.
It’s about being caring and compassionate when colleagues are facing tough times, and if you’re in the privileged position of leading them, cutting them some slack where you can.
Because whatever the future holds I’m sure of this:
Life will never be the same again
As we reset and re-build one thing is certain: 2020 changed the world forever.
The economy will never look the same, who can say whether the High Street will ever look the same again? I’m sure you can think of retail brands that have disappeared in the last year…
COVID is here to stay.
Jobs will change.
The public sector will change.
We will re-build in a different way.
And that’s why we should challenge ourselves – what world do we want to build?
Here are my 4 top suggestions for rebuilding in the workplace:
- I’ve found that the tree of office gossip was felled in one swoop with remote working, let’s leave it on the ground and not pick it up. Gossip destroys integrity. It divides teams and people.
- Make time for the people around you and invest in building relationships. This, for me, was highlighted during lockdown; my job is so much easier because of authentic relationships.
- Resist the urge to retreat into a silo. I found lockdown encouraged me to focus on myself and my team – it’s easy to focus on what’s in front of you and be task focussed when Zoom rules the day.
Take time away from the treadmill of meetings to think and reflect, to bounce ideas off colleagues and collaborate. This will allow you to be future focussed and, dare I say it, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and prompt you into the right direction.
- Last, but by no means least; be hopeful.
Let’s face the inevitable change knowing that our Champion is Jesus and our Father God will never let us down.
Let’s place our confidence in knowing that He has a place for you and me, whatever that looks like.
Let’s remain a positive force for change in our work places, seeing the opportunities for the Kingdom to shine through us in how we perform our roles.
Let’s hope for better. Let’s influence our workplaces for the better.
The world has been fundamentally shaken, but we can face the future with hope as we return to Israel and re-build the wrecked city to reflect the glory of our Father in Heaven.