In a recent train-the-trainer webinar on the topic of effectively managing virtual teams, the Facilitator asked us about the challenges we were facing when trying to connect with team members virtually. This sparked a great discussion and many insightful ideas surfaced during the course of the session. Sadly, I faced network difficulty on my end around the same time as other participants answered the question. Thus, neither could I hear anyone else’s questions nor could I share mine. I am writing this blog hoping to help the people around me facing a similar obstacle.
My biggest challenge is time management. More specifically, I find myself constantly struggling to balance work with daily chores. Due to the nation-wide lock down, which recently got extended further, everyone is stuck at home for the foreseeable future. I, like many others, had been dependent largely on house help. But, these days everything has become a DIY chore. Thus, connecting with a virtual team, managing productive work, and getting the household chores done – all in the same day, it has become an uphill battle for me!
Turns out that I am not alone in this. Just yesterday, I was speaking with one of my friends. She is a working mom of a 3-year old and she said that she was relishing a piece of cake with her daughter that she baked earlier in the day while on a conference call with her team – a cake that she baked out of Oreo biscuits that her daughter had left after licking away the cream that’s in-between the Oreo biscuits! (Yeah! Moms’, in addition to all the juggling that they need to do between work and life, also need to get creative, especially now, that grocery is limited due to the lock-down.)
What also consumes most of our attention is the desire for doing-it-all and doing-it-yourself. Many of us are raised to believe in perfection in everything we do – perfectly dusted homes, perfectly ironed shirts, perfectly round Chappatis. I have, in the recent weeks, come to realise the dangers a perfectionist attitude possess.
The reason I am sharing this is because I have noticed how a lot of people are not comfortable switching on their laptop cameras during online calls. The struggle to join meetings on time can be a real struggle since a lot of people are still wrapping up the household chores or doing the dishes. Undone hair, messy backdrops, zoom bombing kids, and noisy pets are a part of the new normal in the current work-from-home scenario.
So, what do we do?
They say, perfection is elusive. As interesting as it is as a concept, the reality is far different. Keeping this very thing in mind, I have come to believe that it’s time to do away with striving for perfection in everything. While for virtual client meetings, it is important that we keep the background noise and our personal appearance in check; for most in-house team connects, I think it is okay to allow ourselves to let things be as they are. Let your kids and your pets loiter around in the background, or join a meeting while still finishing off breakfast, or stepping into the kitchen to grab a glass of water while still being on the video call. I believe it is time we let go of expectation of impeccable backdrops and sound-proof surroundings. Let’s channel empathy and invite everyone in our teams to switch on their cameras.
“The best is the enemy of the good.” – Voltaire
The most important thing that we can all do at this time is to empower our partners and kids. Especially in cultures like ours, women take up most of the house hold work. We, women, inadvertently discourage our partners (and also our children) from doing their share of household chores. We are either too critical – an idea to achieve false perfection that has somehow been embedded deeply in us, or too controlling – the whimsical myth of do-it-all and do-it-yourself. It is time to let go of control and use this opportunity to empower others in the family to contribute just as much to the household chores so it frees up your time.
Surprisingly, during these last few weeks, I have discovered that my husband is fond of cooking, and surprisingly enough, so did he! On the other hand, my new found love is scrubbing the dishes. It has a calming effect on me, similar to the way breathing exercises do. The bottom line is that these are surreal times and I am sure we are all experiencing it differently. I would want to use this opportunity to build a version of myself that is resilient and considerate. The question I would like to leave you with is –
What would you do?