In my work, return to meeting face to face is both long awaited, yet also happening quite fast. Groups are ready to be together, yet still a bit hesitant to be together. People have learned a few things about themselves, their circumstance, and their procedures together. Sixteen months of CoVid changes who we are.
In most that I’m meeting with now, there is desire to return with added awareness. The rhetoric still includes some “back to normal” but is also heavily dosed with a desire for nuanced deliberateness. It’s what to continue. It’s what not to go back to. It’s marking how things have changed.
Now, I’m a person that has always been interested in the nuanced changes of who we are as human beings doing the things we do together in our jobs. The personal has always been not just intriguing to me, but essential in finding our ways together professionally. In overstated reduction, we humans are not meant to be mere cogs in machine together. Productive, yes. But not so rudely confined to such a limited story. We humans are meant to bring our aliveness together. Our curiosity together. Our wonder together.
As people return to jobs in offices, I’m seeing that some are not coming back. There is some feeling of “now that we have gone through this together, I’m not willing to go back to the same nonsense together — there is another way.” I see this in churches now opening their doors to meetings. I see it in universities now opening classrooms. I see it in non-profits now organizing events. I see it in corporate teams restructured to work a bit more smarter.
Return requires witness. It requires the decency of inquiry together to both ask and share the nuance of who people are together, and what they have learned. Return requires additional subjective — What is this like for you? What have you learned about our circumstance as a group? What have you learned about yourself? What do you need to now be at your best? What might we see together that we can’t see alone that adapts us with humanity into how we now move ourselves forward?
Return is not a time to pretend or deny that nothing is different. It is a time to lean more fully into the humans that we are, to the resourcefulness that we are, and to the passion that we are. Return is a time to reset what we care about, centered deeply in values that lift up and celebrate that we are here to both do good and be good together. The possibility of humans together isn’t heartless productivity. The possibility is artful reset.
I’m moved by the many good inquires and the thoughtfulness that people are showing in return. It is our opportunity to contribute to an evolution of heart, a reshaping of the story, not just a regression to patterned default.