Reflections

Standstill 2020

This photo I took on a trip to Yellowstone earlier this year encapsulates 2020 thus far…

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve decided to take this blog in a slightly different direction. I’ll still post on travel and food, but adding also to the mix personal musing on different topics that catch my fancy – and yes, I’ve had a lot more time lately to read, to reflect, to ponder and daydream too.

I didn’t think Covid and lockdown had affected me much until Labor Day drifted past and with it the memories of summers bbqs, pool parties and just hanging out with friends that weren’t this year. Looking back, it did take me a while to get adjusted to this new norm of working from home. The removal of the daily commute was an early benefit, but it’s only been within the past month that I found myself taking regularized lunch breaks away from the laptop and “formally” shutting down in the evenings (versus returning back after a quick to continue working).

And I’m still trying to figure out what’s the best (effective and nonintrusive) way to replace those spontaneous discussions and connection points that I used to have with colleagues in the office with whom I don’t directly interact as part of my normal job scope. (If you have suggestions, post in the comments, I’ld love to hear!) A random call or Skype ping seems too weird…what would I even start the conversion with? There’s the monthly virtual happy hours, but it’s not as in-depth nor intimate as a small group setting. Connection issues make it worse with either everyone talking over each over or awkward silences.

As a result, I feel increasingly isolated from the organization, from the larger sense of collective purpose in service of a common objective. I’ve started to question more on what is the true impact of my daily efforts – it is really contributing to a forward path or am I just churning within a hamster wheel that spins in place? I make an effort to always celebrate the wins and the milestones – like when a mapping table is finally updated to work properly – but in the bigger scheme of things, I question why that mapping table needs to exist at all. It adds no or little value to the overall process. But getting people on board with a change is so hard – even when the outcome it helping to reduce their workload.

I was conversing with a friend recently who was reminiscing about their old job and commented how in a large company, there’s always built in redundancies and overlaps in job scope which decrease productivity but allows individual employees to occasionally slack off without brining the entire company to a grind. I would argue that it is the presence of these duplications that allow some employees take advantage and not pull their weight at all – leading others to work twice as hard. Additionally, the flip side is too much overlap and one is left battling day to day institutional inertia due to the opacity in decision making ownership which is not only tiresome but contribute to a sense of powerlessness to impact change. As with everything else in life, finding that happy balance I suppose is the golden key to corporate organizational success. Yet, much like the evolving quarantine and work from home life, tweaks are constantly necessary to prevent falling into a suboptimal equilibrium.

If anything, Covid has taught me to not merely embrace change, but to always embrace for change ahead.

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