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The new work environment

By Macilyne Chitepo

THE deadly Covid-19 pandemic will have both temporary and enduring effects. It is both a crisis to be managed and a cause to hit the restart button to get yourself and your organisation ready for the new normal. The irony of the pandemic is that those who did not have a voice in the past are slowly becoming tomorrow’s leaders in the near future.

Be someone that can be looked up to, not someone that looks down on others.

Gone are the days when the heroes worked 9-5 because heroes can now work anytime. Gone are the days that leaders or heroes work in a corporate office because the new normal is that one can work anywhere using any device, and focus is on output not input.
At the beginning of the lockdown, I came across the story of a Covid-19 patient who told how he was saved by a cleaner. He narrated how he had lost hope, but when the cleaner whispered a word of hope and determination in his ear, it changed his whole life. The patient overcame the virus and is still alive today. Thus, the cleaner becomes an unsung hero.
Putting this into perspective at the work place, how many times have our businesses been saved by the least and unassuming person? A friend who runs a company full of intellectuals had her organisation rescued by someone who only went up to “Grade 7”. Organisations can fall or flourish depending on their employment policy. Choosing the right personnel from the onset can make a positive impact on the organisation.
This friend talked of how her company, prior to the lockdown, was divided into two camps that called each other names and how she had failed to end this. Ironically, the ones who were regarded as ‘uneducated’ reported for duty and worked hard during the lockdown, while the ‘educated’ worked from home. The lockdown period has instilled ‘Ubuntu’ in both groups and my friend says she is happy about the winning behaviour now prevailing in both camps.
Be someone that can be looked up to, not someone that looks down on others.
When I was studying Change Management, I hated the course so much that I trashed the notes and textbooks once I was done. Little did I know that a pandemic in the form of Covid-19 would “grace” our existence and as a lifestyle writer, I have found myself scrabbling around to see if I still have any material from the course. All I am trying to illustrate is that in life, one should never disregard something.

Often we hear people saying, “she is just a secretary or she is just a receptionist”. Have you ever stopped to think what business she has attracted to the company just by “being a secretary”? The most successful things in life are often the simplest. A simple smile from a receptionist can inject a lot of income into the organisation.
A story is also told of a bank teller who refused to serve a client a few minutes after closing time. The client wanted to invest millions but because his car key got stuck in the ignition he was late by a few minutes. The teller is justified in sticking to the time but the client also had a genuine reason. The CCTV even recorded the time the client entered the premises. Thus, the whole organisation lost a very good opportunity.
“An organisation has a greater chance of achieving success when it employs the right people. It is therefore, essential to recognise the different roles people play,” writes M.C. Cant and CH Van Heerden in their book on Marketing Management, in which they also describe the four categories of employees in an organisation: The Isolates, who have no customer contact and have very little to do with conventional marketing activities, the Influencers, who are involved with traditional elements of marketing, and the Modifiers, which includes drivers, credit department staff and receptionists who deal with customers regularly but have no direct marketing role. There are also the contractors who are typically involved in marketing activities and have regular contact with customers.
In these four categories, we find the employees who have no marketing background at all, but have sustained organisations in these trying times.
Nature has become our friend during lockdown and gardening has become a popular hobby. My gardener told me that the lockdown has been his breakthrough because he managed to generate a lot of income as people wanted to upload their pictures on social media while in pristine and beautifully landscaped gardens. Some also found growing herbs and medicinal teas in their gardens fulfilling. All these people have become unsung heroes by suppling the community with fruits and vegetables.

Thoughts for the week
So in tune with the present moment, I have decided to share the power of those whom society looks down upon. My take for the week is never, under any circumstances, disregard anyone because the world is revolving at a greater pace.
“Your job is not to judge. Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting,” an unknown author said.