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How remote work can bring us together

Even at a distance, colleagues can always learn more about one another

remote work COVID-19

As employees navigate new challenges, they should be encouraged to remember that they have the intellectual and emotional tools not just to get through the immediate crisis but also to grow long-term. That was one takeaway from two presentations at Knowledge 2020, by Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors and Chief Strategy Officer Lara Caimi. Each executive described how our shared instincts for empathy and compassion can help us all thrive even during a pandemic.

Some upsides to the Zoom boom

Like many of us these days, Wadors said she has felt like a part-time resident of Zoom ever since all ServiceNow employees were sent home in mid-March. However, she learned to see those Zoom calls as opportunities to understand and empathize with her co-workers.

By enabling video during virtual meetings, she added, people provide glimpses of their authentic selves. “Through the pandemic we have gotten to know each other better,” Wadors said. “We have put mental and physical health in the forefront of our conversations, and when I ask how you are, I really pause and listen more to the answer.”

Wadors stressed the importance of flexibility, patience, and creativity as we all figure out how to balance work and life in the age of COVID-19. “Nobody expects any of us to know this playbook,” she said. “But what they expect and hope is that we are caring, that we put people first, that we adapt and show compassion.”

Watch Pat Wadors’ full session on demand (free registation required)

New pathways for women in the workplace

In her “Potholes and pathways” session for Knowledge 2020, Chief Strategy Officer Lara Caimi spoke of the challenges women often face moving up the corporate ranks, and the need for men to speak up on behalf of their female colleagues when necessary.

Research shows that women, especially working moms, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. “They carry the weight of work-from-home, and school-from-home, more heavily than men do,” Caimi said.

Women, Caimi added, are more likely to consider abandoning their careers to attend to family during a crisis. Those challenges are especially acute for women of color. In the new work-from-home paradigm, Caimi sees a role emerging for employee sponsors, a workplace advocacy role that differs from traditional mentors.

“Mentors give guidance and help you navigate. Sponsors are advocates, especially of you to others. They float your name for new opportunities, they support you in promotions, they’re always thinking about ways to increase your visibility.”

Watch Lara Caimi’s full session on demand (free registration required)