This month, I have been privileged enough to co-produce and present a series of webinars exploring how we can prepare our teachers, staff members, communities and children for their return to school. We weren’t looking at the logistical complexities but the emotional ones.
It has struck me how generic the considerations have been, not just those working in education, but for all of us when it comes to returning to 'normality'. Lots of us want and need to return to work, whatever form that may take. We want to see our friends and most of all, we want to hug our families.
Across the world, politicians and scientists have talked at length about how we can do that, but as well as systemically and structurally, I think we should be reflecting on the emotional challenges we're facing, especially in our workplaces.
We have, after all, had very different lived experiences of the crisis. Some of us have experienced loss, economic upheaval, relationship issues and depression. Some of us have enjoyed the opportunities to ‘free range our brains’, to have lived life a little slower and a little more simply.
For leaders and managers in our workplaces, we need to be cognisant of that variation and ensure that we really do manage people as individuals, taking time to understand people's experiences so we can support them and each other as we reintegrate, reconnect and redefine moving forward.
One size has never fitted all and if I'm certain of anything, it's that if we are to rise stronger, both personally and professionally, we must spend time thinking about humans first and productivity second.
It really will be the only way we can fly again.