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Turn and face the strange …

Turn and face the strange …

Heading back today from my first vaccine shot (first of two), I got to thinking about this past year, and how we as a nation, as an industry, are inching our way back to the way things were before this nightmare called COVID hit us all just over a year ago.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I have been insanely driven, work-wise, this past year, and I have learned that this new work-from-home dynamic does come with some caveats, as I am sure many of us have learned over this past year. Unfortunately, many times it can be our overall health and wellness that is negatively impacted, both mentally and physically, as they are connected in so many ways.

One of the dark recesses of working remotely is losing the work-life balance that, for many of us, was much easier to maintain when we were all going back and forth to the office each day. Sure, we brought work home with us, but the lines between work and life were more clearly drawn then.

When your desk is just down the hall from your family life, sometimes it is hard to turn it off, to choose to hang with your family over sending one more email, or getting a head start on tomorrow. This is why it is so important to recognize and understand that our entire paradigm for living has been turned on its head, or has been just plain thrown away, putting undue and new stresses on not just our work environments, but our home lives as well.

And many of us, including myself, are still adapting and finding our way through these “ch-ch-changes,” as David Bowie once said, and learning to “turn and face the strange.” For me, it has taken a conscious effort to focus on me, to put my physical and mental wellness first, so I can be there for others around me, both personally and in the industry.

The recent Kindness Games movement going on within the industry, on LinkedIn and elsewhere, has been great to see, as it is exactly what we all need right now – some kindness!

As Security Systems News Class of 2020 “40 under 40” winner Kathryn Bartunek, Senior Program Manager for AECOM, pointed out during her “What End Users Want” session at our virtual SecurityNext conference in February, it is more important than ever for us to take what she calls a “wellness moment,” which I absolutely love.

“COVID has impacted the way we interact with our industry, family, friends, colleagues, and we no longer have unplanned moments, or organic channels that we are used to that are just absent from our daily lives now,” she pointed out. “Many people are feeling disconnected. We really just need to take an active effort to increase communication.”

Bartunek provided some great ideas, or strategies for increasing and creating more quality communication with colleagues, family and friends.

“Just reach out to someone, a colleague, a family member, a friend, to say hello and catch up on things,” she said. “Call for no reason. Say hi. That is something we used to do.”

She continued, “Take time to recognize co-workers through team chat, emails, social media – however you can. And turn your videos on when you are video conferencing, as it is the next best thing to being in person. Sure, it takes more effort to turn on your camera and engage with people on that level, but it could really make a difference in someone’s day.”

Great advice for all of us, Kathryn!

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