by Nick Hanson, MHSCN board president-elect
Two years. It’s been a little more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. It goes far beyond vaccinations, public health safety measures, masking and seeing our loved ones suffer from COVID-19 – in the short term, long term and (sadly for some) losing friends and family.
We’ve seen a fundamental change in how we work. Many would have never predicted that a large portion of the workforce would be able to function at a high level via Zoom, Teams, phone calls and texts – all while wearing sweatpants and a ballcap. For those of us in the healthcare communications and marketing world, we have been operating in crisis mode while hospitals filled with patients, work demands rose exponentially and we were forced to massage messaging that changed on a daily basis. While we’ve adapted to this new work style, that doesn’t mean all is right.
If you’re a part of the Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network (MHSCN), you undoubtedly care – A LOT – about your career. Good for you, and we’re glad you are a part of this organization. But, we care about you and know that you can’t continue to operate like this.
For now, gone are the days of water cooler talk, grace periods between meetings, walking down the hall to engage a colleague about a project or lunch and happy hours to truly get to know our coworkers on a personal level. Humans are social beings who are not meant to operate from home in isolation away from their peers (introverts, feel free to disagree, but even the interactions I’ve had with my introverted peers over nearly 20 years would not be possible via Zoom).
So, where am I going with this? If you’re struggling at work or at home, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your personality type is or how successful you are. Sometimes okay is fine. Be kind to others. Take care of yourself, and if you aren’t able to get out of your funk, seek professional help.
For most of my life, work has been a big definition of my character. That’s still true, but my perspective has changed. It’s more important to make it to your nieces' and nephews' basketball games and dance recitals than log a few more hours at work. It’s probably better to read your kids books at night or take a trip to the playground than answer a few extra emails. When you get a call or email at 9 p.m., it’s okay to ignore it and continue watching your favorite show. The “crisis” can wait until the morning. Let’s afford our colleagues that same grace.
As we turn towards the endemic and begin to return to a new normal, let’s remember that when all is said and done, most of us are not remembered by our career. It’s who you are as a person. Yes, work is fulfilling, and many of us are energized by our careers. It's only one aspect of our lives.
That said (a little hypocritically), we have a great lineup of virtual sessions, networking opportunities and an excellent in-person fall conference on the horizon. We appreciate you. More importantly, we hope you are giving yourself and your peers some grace during this evolving and difficult time.