Anxiety in lockdown
Lyndsay Morgan, Operations Director at Climb Online, discussed the challenges that individuals can face when it comes to motivation in the current climate, noting that it's easy to feel like you may have “lost that drive.” She remarked that she is actually missing her commute for the time it gave her to prepare for the day ahead.
Morgan went on to explore the notion of time and how, as we find ourselves halfway through the year, her constant struggle is around determining what she has achieved. A universal challenge as no one could have predicted the path 2020 would take.
Collette Philip, Founder of Brand by Me also highlighted the challenges around finding the motivation, contextualising it within her own experience of running her own company. Philip says she realised early in the lockdown that she was no longer fully “in control of business success.” With a myriad of uncertainties plaguing business owners and employees alike, Philip says, “so many things are beyond your control no matter how much you do.”
She spoke about recent unfolding events in the US around the death of George Floyd and the spotlight it has placed on systemic racism. She went on to unpack the idea of “optical allyship,” a situation in which many businesses may find themselves through posturing about purpose rather than demonstrating actual support. “We’re here for you is such an empty statement without the action,” Philip added. This is particularly poignant in light of the fact that, according to Philip, investment in Diversity and Inclusion programmes is in decline.
For Antje Kiewell, Founder of Soar Learning, her key challenge focused on the reality that, as an entrepreneur, she has a feeling “of missing out, of not belonging”. A challenge which is amplified by working alone from home at the moment.
Women’s careers on lockdown
As Kemp offered evidence around the differing effect this lockdown is having on men and women, Morgan answered that there can be no question that “the crisis is disproportionately affecting women.” Whether that’s taking up voluntary furlough, trying to balance caregiving with work or being forced to take unpaid leave where furlough isn’t an option, Morgan feels that what we need is “compassion and understanding from leaders of each person’s situation.”
As lockdown begins to ease and companies look at how they might return to their offices, Morgan believes the new culture that will develop offers a moment of opportunity for businesses. She noted that the core challenge for leadership teams is to ensure that everyone’s perspective is heard, particularly women.
Philip believes that, while it’s true that we don’t want to reverse the gains made in the gender equality space, what’s also vital is that those gains are “lifting people who are most at risk of being left out.” For Philip, what that equates to is “listening to the lived experience of people and creating spaces for those experiences to be shared without judgement.” Only then can concerns and fears be addressed before the shape of any office ‘return’ is examined.
For Kiewell, what’s become more apparent is that this situation is a “leadership challenge.” Leaders won’t always get it right so it is up to everyone to not only think on how to be more resilient in themselves but also how that resilience can be fostered across teams. Ultimately, she says, the question for all must be, “How can we push the boat through the storm?”