Working in Changing Times

The times, they are a-changin’” said Bob Dylan, in a song of the same name. Oh yes, the times are certainly changing! The times are changing in ways most people could never have imagined. And, the times are changing whether we like it or not. At this point in my long career, I have suddenly been thrust into a new way of doing business, a way that is not to my liking and a way I have avoided for many years. Although I have been working “remotely,” that is, in places all across the U.S.A. other than my office, I have never worked in the ways I have been working now. In addition, I am being placed in a position to interact with people in ways in which I have never interacted, via odd systems such as Zoom, Go to Meeting, and other so called web chat platforms, in ways I’d prefer never to learn, let alone actually use. I am a psychologist. I prefer to interact with people in person, not via some high tech computer conference where, as one of my friends describes, people look like photos on a postage stamp. But, because of the current pandemic, I am not allowed to do my work in the manner in which I was trained, the ways in which I have always, until now, earned a living, and the ways in which I am comfortable. What am I doing about it? What can I do about it? Well, as I see it, I can do one of two things. The first thing I can do is actually my preference and that is, I can do nothing; instead, I can sit around, idly, waiting for things to go my way. I would like that, but it is not realistic. Therefore, I am choosing the second option and that is “joining the club” of learning how to do my job in ways that, a few short weeks ago, were unthinkable. I am adapting, innovating, and reinventing myself. To continue quoting Bob Dylan’s song, “You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin.’” Stay tuned for more news on the many ways David and I are changing Magnus and the work we provide on behalf of our clients!

Dylan may have sung that times were changing, but I’d suggest now, that things have changed.  Forever.  In some ways, there is no going back.  Hopefully, lessons we are learning now will make a difference going forward.  A big lesson is that invisible threats like viruses are more lethal than most any weapon of war has been inside the borders of the United States.  We will find a new normal, and that new normal will, on the positive side, include the new tricks we’ve learned.  We may have lived without Zoom or Go To Meeting.  But we may find it to be useful for more than just virtual happy hour.  Or, maybe that is worth maintaining.  Melissa and I have found that the visual cues present in FaceTime or these other tools have benefits.  Old dogs like us now get it – and we have learned.  Do we need to use it all the time if we can go visit in person?  No.  Is it a decent substitute for keeping in touch?  Yes.  Can it help in other ways like getting acquainted with a prospect or enhancing client reports?  Certainly – it is just a matter of trying to use the resources and tools at hand.  Working remotely is new to many people, though not to us.  I read something this week about why this has, overall, worked well.  That is, why, tech issues aside, companies have been able to disperse their work forces and still maintain productivity.  The interview was with the CEO of Alphabet/Google and one comment he made struck me – he noted that most of these newly remote workers already worked within a team or group.  They knew each other and they had existing working relationships.  Thus, when dispersed, they were not in person, but they were already accustomed to working with each other.  As someone who has studied organizational behavior, this is an important point.  As we find a new normal, many people will adapt practices such as remote working.  It is important to really consider what it is we are learning and not attempt to invent a new normal without considering why things may have worked this time.  As Melissa and I, and our team learn, we’re being careful to consider when it is appropriate to use the new tricks, tools, techniques we are learning and developing so that we ensure that we are doing what is most appropriate for our clients, our cases, and ourselves.

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