Dear colleagues of the year 2030,
When you hear about the year 2020 on news bulletins, or talk to colleagues who actively experienced 'the corona pandemic', you won't believe your ears. Yes, we REALLY stayed at home for three months. Everyone who could, suddenly had to work from home. Non-essential shops were closed, schools and crèches firmly closed their doors, traffic came to a standstill. Going to the supermarket became an uncomfortable experience involving disinfectant gel, face masks and clear instructions to keep a distance from each other.
It felt surreal. But the infection curve had to be flattened!
We were with the lucky ones who could keep their jobs. So unlike many others, we were spared the financial stress. But other types of stress were there. Being as driven as we are, we wanted to get our jobs done perfectly and keep everything up and running. Working parents were already overstretched, and this took them to breaking point. The kids wandered around like lost souls, occasionally appearing unexpectedly in the background of the video calls we were holding with our boss. There was no question of spending a cosy evening having a good laugh about it with our friends, social contact was forbidden and all our favourite bars were closed. No, to be honest, it wasn't the best of times. Not for working mums and dads with young children, and not for those who suddenly found themselves without any social contact. But we had the good fortune to be able to count on an understanding employer. An employer with its heart in the right place, and a culture in which we were left to decide how best to organise ourselves. And despite the difficulties of working from home, we also learned a lot.
We eagerly seized upon the flexibility we had suddenly been given to organise the working day to suit each of our unique lives. We learned that we could shift a good deal of work from home, that we could save so much valuable time by not having to commute and that all those digital tools are a bit easier to use than we first thought.
What we missed most about going to the office? Our colleagues. That chat at the coffee machine, that informal discussion about a problem, laughing out loud at our mistakes, being able to attune a line of thought between a few e-mails... The working person is also a social being. We need others to make our own ideas better, to inspire and challenge each other. So we soon discovered where the digital limit was. Being on call for days turned out to be exhausting. The informal contact with colleagues outside your team was lost - we seemed less aware of what was going on in the company.
We're sure that you people of the future will by now have found the perfect balance for that. We can imagine there's a lot of teleworking going on. Perhaps even a huge amount. And that the necessary technological tools are available so that every type of meeting, from brainstorm to conference, also runs seamlessly remotely, without any frustrations. But we hope that there will still be a function for the office space. We imagine it to be an interactive place, to meet colleagues, to connect with each other and with the company. That the office space is a place where a clear culture and purpose is shared, supported by strong leadership that gives clear direction. Because we all noticed now how important that is, when we work much more together from a distance.
At the beginning of the crisis, teleworking was still viewed with suspicion. But gradually everyone saw with their own eyes how much passion and drive there is in employees. How proud everyone was of their job at such a company... and how hard everyone tried to keep things running in difficult conditions. Creativity and engagement boomed like never before. We won't let that go. And we'll pass it on to you.
We wish you every success there in 2030, in your bustling office environment or in the peace and quiet of your home office.
Kaat & Eva