If you’re lucky enough to still be gainfully employed, have you noticed a change in your business demeanor? Are you more relaxed about work?
My friend and business colleague Vanessa Toy, natural foods marketing guru and founder of Cultivate Creations, has a built a theory on this issue based on her business phone calls and zoom meetings since the lockdown.
“With everyone working from home, people are just being themselves. There’s less of a filter. People are now surrounded by the comfortable and familiar 24/7 and they don’t have to be “on” the same way as if they were in an office. There’s kids, significant others, and life. And when you’re on the phone or video call with business colleagues, you’re one step removed. All this gives people the freedom to let their guard down, to do and say what they’re really feeling.”
It all adds up to the ability to be more of your authentic self. Think about it. The office is an entirely different environment. “You start to drink the Kool Aid and you conform,” according to Vanessa. “But when you’re in your own world and engaging in people – you are more like who you really are.”
The result is that people seem to be loosening up considerably, cracking jokes and revealing more of themselves because they are in their own environment – an environment over which they have control. People’s actions may be more aligned with their true priorities as well. When surrounded by your family, the family you are keeping sheltered, well-fed and healthy by working in the first place, the possibility of “out of sight, out of mind” is less of a possibility. Putting self-fulfillment aside for the moment, all you have do is look around to understand your motivations.
This enhanced focus on family and safety may be making everyone’s work better. Embracing a more a balanced approach, one that is more in touch with one’s values and most important priorities, might be serving us well in a number of ways.
There seems to be something about being with our work colleagues virtually, but not physically, that allows us to let our guard down. Vanessa notes that the spontaneous and ephemeral nature of social media, where timeliness is more important than perfection, seems to have carried over to the new Zoom culture. This has the effect of allowing our interactions to be more genuine, less planned and less controlled.
While business hierarchies still exist, there is far less pretense and structure when you’re meeting virtually. Being physically removed from the office, a place of rules, rituals and behavioral expectations, also encourages us to be more of ourselves. You are no longer just another cog in the wheel, one of the countless anonymous souls crowded into a sea of desks and computers. Being at home, a king or queen in your own castle, can be a great equalizer, a place where the corporate shackles, with all their political, economic and social limitations, fall away.
If this is the case for you, I would call it a positive development for your personal brand. Because there is no place for apprehension or second guessing when you want to be at your best. For your personal brand to work for you, your actions need to be rooted in an understanding of who you are and the quiet confidence that comes from the comfort that provides.
So perhaps this is a silver lining to our current misery. If we can better connect to who we really are, our authenticity will carry over to our work. Freed, at least somewhat from corporate cultures and expectations, we might bring more originality and creativity to the mix by being precisely who we are.
What’s you experience been? Drop me a note and let me know.