No, this isn’t normal. And that’s okay.
Yesterday, during a video conference with my team, my two young boys ran back and forth behind me in plain view of the camera, disappearing and reappearing more times than I could count.
By the end of our call, they were both seated on my lap, their curious faces filling the frame. Their presence was impossible to ignore, yet no one on the team blinked an eye.
Despite the fact that MedStack has been a remote-work company since our inception and that we consider ourselves adept at working from home, the past few weeks have still required a quantum adjustment.
The line dividing our personal and work lives has become nearly indistinguishable as the places we work and live in have fully merged into one.
Every conversation I have with both friends and colleagues inevitably turns to how exhausted we all feel, with parents feeling an even greater burden.
Work-life balance was already a challenge for many, and now feels entirely unachievable.
It’s tempting to carry on pretending everything is normal. We hide our imperfect homes with pleasant virtual backgrounds, and the mute button has become our new best friend.
But as burnout creeps in and our productivity begins to drop, the cost to our mental health is taking its toll. The long-term repercussions that the pandemic will have on society in this regard are already well-documented and will be profound.
To all of the leaders and innovators building the future of digital health, I am calling on every single one of us to lead by example.
Employers need to openly acknowledge that productivity may be impacted for very valid reasons, reasons that lie beyond the control of even the most typically productive employees.
This isn’t normal. And it’s also okay.
All of us, both employers and employees alike, need to reframe our expectations, and above all ensure we put people first.
Flexibility is now more important than ever, both as it relates to ways of working as well as our mindset. We need to demonstrate empathy for the various stresses our employees and colleagues may be under, and not make anyone feel like they need to conform to an unrealistic ideal.
I’m fortunate to work for a company that not only understands, but embraces the current reality we are all living in.
Each of us at MedStack are coping in our own ways, all of which have been highly encouraged and supported by our leadership. Here are some of them:
- One of our employees is taking Tuesdays off and replacing it with a Saturday workday instead. This allows him to spend time with his young daughter during the week while relieving his wife who also works full-time, as well as have a full, uninterrupted day of work on the weekend.
- Some of us are experimenting with “Thinking Thursdays”, a dedicated no-meeting day to help trigger a strong flow state.
- We work outside. As the weather warms up, we take to our balconies and backyards for a dose of vitamin D.
- Everyone has permission to take a long weekend whenever it’s needed to help prevent burnout. No questions asked.
- All MedStack kids have open invitations to attend any meetings. And if parents need to take a break to give them some attention, that’s okay too. We’ve also created a home-with-kids Slack channel as a safe place to vent.
- We remember to have fun (evidence below from our last happy hour call).
As we’ve all heard many times now, we’ll get through this together. But let’s all do our part to ensure we help our people get to the other side with their health intact.