Workplace after 2020: An opportunity to make it gentler, more human

In the midst of this second wave of Covid-19, we are starting to learn what works and what doesn’t. Even if we find a vaccine for the virus, we shouldn’t just go back to business as usual.

Turns out that if you don’t put people first, everybody suffers. I know, who would have thought!

While we’re ready to go back to the new normal, whatever it may be, I’d like to suggest that we use the lessons we learned to rebuild our workplace. I say our workplace because it was created by humans, for humans; even if it’s often easy to forget that. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of places with good people, and a healthy work environment, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvements.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Talk more about mental health

The pandemic has highlighted how mental health affects everybody. You are not broken because you have mental health issues as everybody experiences them. I have met people who felt extremely uncomfortable talking about it. I don’t think it’s the right approach. While your colleagues don’t have to know your medical history, they shouldn’t look at you as a monster if you tell them you had a panic attack once. People don’t have problems when you mention back pain or headache, why should they have one when we talk about mental health. Talking about it will normalize it, and that’s great!

Push for more diversity at all levels

People from different backgrounds have different perspectives. Shocking, isn’t it? No, but seriously we need to break the status quo and hear people out. Systemic racism is real and it is time to find a concrete solution. We live in a multi-cultural country and there should be more opportunities for high-level positions for people of colour, members of the LGBT+ community, and immigrants. According to a CBC article, Canadian tech companies are not doing enough effort to hire minorities even though there are many qualified people out there

Fairer wages

Notice that I didn’t say higher wages because not everybody should be paid more. Many people are underpaid while others make more money than they know what to do with. The amount of money people make often has nothing to do with how much they work. As a society, we have yet to figure out a way to reduce wage inequalities. For instance, there’s no reason why grocery stores employees shouldn’t earn more money for providing essential services. Also, businesses can afford to pay them more. A job is a job, and employees deserve a living wage.

End or discourage cliques

While it’s normal to get along with some people better than others, cliques are rarely a good thing. According to a career builder survey, these high-school relics still pollute 43% of the offices. And given that not everybody is self-aware, I wouldn’t be surprised if these numbers weren’t higher

As far as I am concerned, I never managed to integrate a clique as their members tend to be thrown off by my sincerity and worldview. Ever since I left high school, I tend to run away from them, rather than being drawn to them. And for good reasons, cliques make people uncomfortable and anxious. In addition to hurting people, most studies show that cliques negatively impact productivity. They are also terrible for diversity.

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