Imagine starting a new job and never meeting anyone on your team in person. Wretched, right? However, in the post-COVID era, this is what starting a new job looks like for numerous working people. Work looks different today.
While there are benefits tied to working from home or getting the job done remotely, the feedback also reveals an increased sense of isolation and loneliness. These appear to be ingredients for a toxic work environment and a recipe for disaster.
Like you, I’ve seen this prove to be true in the physical workplace as well. People who office in a space disconnected from their co-workers also creates a negative experience. People need to see you working and you want others to see you at work. In part, this is due to some employees not grasping that work looks different for different members of the team. They simply don’t feel like you’re sweating as much or working as hard as they are because of how they understand and define work.
It is critical for us to remember that we each define work differently. What work looks like for you is different from how someone else views what they do. For me, as a Christian, I view work as an essential part of daily life that God ordained from the beginning of Creation.
The Lexham Bible Dictionary describes work as “An exchange of labor, skill, and time for monetary and intrinsic rewards. Often viewed in the Bible as an exercise of stewardship.”
To be sure, how we define work and go about doing work has changed from century to century. Work looks far different than it did during Biblical times.
Growing up, my Dad would exhort me to find work that relies more on my mind rather than my back. At the time, I didn’t fully get what he was trying to teach me. As I’ve gotten older and gained more experience, I believe that I have a greater grasp of the point Dad attempted to communicate.
Today, we live and work in an age of knowledge and information. When I entered the workforce over forty years ago, the service sector was growing rapidly. In my lifetime, I have witnessed jobs, work, and careers transition from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Worker.
Knowledge workers are high-level workers who apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through formal training, to develop products and services.Peter Drucker, Work Expert and Management Guru
Knowledge work combined with portable technology has transformed the landscape of how, when, and where work is and can be done. The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the system, causing employers to shift how employees did their work. Except for essential workers ( a relatively new concept birthed at the start of the pandemic), anyone who had a job stopped going to the workplace. This coincided with a rise in remote jobs that began globally years before any of us heard about coronaviruses.
Five Bible Verses About Work
The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. Genesis 2:15 (NLT)
One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. Genesis 39:11 (NLT)
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:13 (NRSV)
There is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot. Ecclesiastes 3:22 (NRSV)
The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. Revelation 18:11 (NLT)
Over the last decade, I had the opportunity to work as a destination services consultant and as a workplace chaplain. Both of these jobs allowed me to office from home. I no longer went to to a specific workplace at a specific time to do my work. These is something I first began learning to do as a multi-unit supervisor overseeing multiple restaurant locations. Looking back, I spent nearly 15 years working remotely—-meaning I didn’t get up and go to the same physical place—like the office or a factory—-to do my job. I travelled to different locations to complete the various duties and responsibilities related to my job—-be it a restaurant supervisor, relocation consultant, or workplace chaplain. This changed how I interacted with my co-workers, employees, and clients. It altered how I went about my work and how I planned to do my job. Fortunately, I learned how to work unsupervised or with little supervision early on in my career. Still, I struggled with isolation, disconnection, and even feelings of loneliness even though I worked in highly people-centric roles. I learned that I am a person who derives energy from being around people.
In a recent survey, the organization Workplace Intelligence partnered with Airspeed and asked over 1,500 workers and C-suite leaders at remote and hybrid organizations a number of key questions. They found that 1/3 (about 500) respondents felt “a great deal” or “somewhat” disconnected, alienated, isolated, or lonely at work (Schwabel, Workplace Intelligence Newsletter, 2022).
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize people who are passionate about their work tend to be more satisfied about their job and are employed longer at their work than those who are dispassionate about what they do to earn a living. Turns out, how the bus is driven is important as who is on the bus.
We are social beings created for community. We yearn for connectivity and belonging. We need to be part of something. Simply put, it’s not healthy for us to be alone. Loneliness is impacting the modern workforce. When individuals feel disconnected from their work community they tend to become less engaged and more likely to look for work elsewhere.
As our world continues to creep out from under the burdensome rock of life dictated by COVID-19, we are seeing a major shift in how we do work and how we operate at the workplace. Navigating out of this, especially during turbulent economic times, will take leaders and workers open to re-imagining work and empathetic to understanding what helps us keep a sense of being valued, feeling like we matter and keeping us connected.
No, this isn’t your father’s workplace anymore Toto. How we work, where we work, and when we work have changed. Honestly, how we define work is different today, particularly in this post-COVID era.
How have you seen work change during your lifetime? How has the pandemic impacted the work you do?
Please leave your responses in the COMMENTS below.
I pray that your workweek is filled with opportunities to showcase your giftedness. May the Lord shine favor on you and may your faith help you maximize your talents for the good of those around you.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.
The Devotional Guy™
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