One thing surprised me when I returned from a speaking tour about Soulful Parenting in the States. My talk was the first live event at each venue. Some people met the opportunity full-on, they were thrilled to be back in person. At other venues the turn-out was small, why ever leave home when you can always turn on a computer to join? At other venues participants felt tentative: afraid of being together while knowing how much they needed one another.
The extroverts amongst us thrive on the energy generated when we are sitting next to each other in the room. And the introverts amongst us are happier sitting in our Zoom rooms dressed in PJs. While some managers and employers throw up their hands and say “I just can’t figure out this hybrid thing” I want to remind us of one thing:
We are all a part of one team, and we need all of the wisdom in the room (virtual and live) to move us forward.
While it does take considerable financial resources and planning to figure out how to facilitate a meeting well in a hybrid work setting (computer set up, stable internet, and large screens) what is gained is maximum inclusivity. It also challenges those who are in the room to be more considerate of those who are not (e.g. turning to a camera or computer to speak with those who are off-screen, turning to their input first during Q & A segments of a meeting.)
Hybrid work settings remind us that we are hybrid people. As we move through our lives, we carry with us “Both… And…” sensibilities.
We work both in-person and work remotely.
We are both parents and working people.
We are both energetic and sometimes unmotivated.
We are both passionate and sometimes calm.
We are “Both…And…” people when it comes to our families too.
We are both loving and strict.
We are both patient and short-tempered (especially late at night!)
We are sometimes passionate and sometimes calm.
Both boundaried and sometimes highly flexible.
It might be easier to focus on one identity over another; being just a parent or just a working person, being just energetic and motivated without giving space for the sometimes less motivated parts of ourselves. If we do that we will live, as Parker Palmer writes, “divided lives.” When we hold opposite drives together, we can begin the work of integrating the fragmented parts of ourselves and can become more whole people. Being explicit about how we do this will teach our children how to do this in their own lives.
Let’s open ourselves up to the possibilities that come with living hybrid lives and creating hybrid work environments too. So the next time you are at a meeting and someone calls in sick, invite them to hop online, pull up a place for the computer around the meeting table, and invite them to speak first.
Blessings for the journey,