For most of us, 2021 was not the year we expected. As the year began, it seemed we were coming out of the fog of COVID, and the vaccines and treatments might mean a return to Life as we once knew it. Many of us celebrated being able to gather for holidays, and there was the promise of more reunions to come. And then the Delta variant emerged.
Like it or not, we are living in interesting times!
Now we find ourselves, once again, rushing towards Christmas holidays and the end of the year. We have been negotiating the return to the office, and still struggling with uncertainty about what’s next. What will work look like? Will our cities ever be the same? Can the kids who have missed so much school catch up? Perhaps the best strategy for now is to take a few deep breaths and remember to be kind.
World Kindness Day is coming up, and while the pandemic has certainly featured some good news stories, much of the news has been a bit bleak. The hope of great global solutions and people working together for the greater good, heralded the beginning of the internet, seems to have been displaced by narcissism, division, and conspiracy. But, by choosing to be kind at work (and in life), as we all adjust to changing restrictions and realities, each one of us can do our part to support positive workplace interactions.
- Be kind to yourself. If you are finding the return to work challenging, discuss your fears with understanding co-workers and friends. Talk to your organisation about how you are feeling, and if there are actions they can take to give you more comfort. Remember that we’ve been working our way through uncertainty for nearly two years. Make yourself a cup of tea, have a piece of chocolate and celebrate having made it this far!
- Be kind to your colleagues. Some people may be reluctant to return to the office. Some people may want not want to say whether they are vaccinated or not. Businesses will have to comply with regulations about masks and sign-in protocols and vaccinations in the workplace. Respect the protocols of your workplace, and the workplaces of others. Be kind to those who have to enforce the rules and regulations. This may require patience, as we queue to enter offices, transport and venues. Working from home required us to master new skills, and returning to the office will require us to remember how we used to engage with one another. Be kind in all your interactions — with peers, with the people you manage, and with the people who manage you.
- Be kind in the world. Having to negotiate traffic, school runs, coffee queues and crowds could be trying in the past, and we may need to remember how to do this again with grace and good humour. And if you have been lucky enough to get through the pandemic largely unquarantined, celebrate and be kind in your responses to those in the world who are feeling a bit fragile.
Kindness is not often mentioned as a workplace value, but it may be the most important one.