May 21st, 2020 By Steve Mooney
Steve Mooney, EVP, Managing Director of Jack’s Boston office and Employee Experiences lead, shares his renewed focus on taking each day, as it comes – an important motto as we navigate COVID-19 and manage our mental and emotional health.
My daughter turned to me the other morning and asked what day it was. She groaned when I said Wednesday, and then added, “There’s a meme going around these days. It says these days there are only three days in the week.”
“What are those?” I asked.
“Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
Touché, I thought.
If this pandemic has taught me one thing, it’s to focus on today. My daughter’s reference to a meme also got me to think about what I’ve learned since lock-down. Specifically, what we’ve learned about engaging with each other, and our colleagues, now that so many of us are living and working in a virtual world. It’s my hope to keep some of this in mind when we come out of this period.
It’s also my hope that everyone has the time and ability to focus on their mental and emotional state of being. Particularly because stressful times of uncertainty can trigger fear and anxiety. And while each of us reacts and copes differently, we should all learn how to support each other.
A time for learning and reflection
During this time of social distancing and remote working, I’ve thought a lot about a few things. One being silver linings. What has COVID-19 taught me? What will I take back with me, as we re-enter the physical workspace?
As a company, we have increased our communication with employees throughout this pandemic – understanding that prioritizing our employees and establishing a sense of connection is more important than ever before. We hold more virtual, office-wide staff meetings to foster connectedness. And we unwind with virtual happy hours. While there have been unfortunate days and hardships, I am proud to be a leader within the Jack organization. Proud of our resiliency, our productivity, our creativity and our global community of extraordinary people.
I’ve maintained regular communication with staff – to check in, to listen, to be present. I’ve also given-up on video calls when it comes to one–on–one communication. After the initial excitement of video conferencing wore off, I came to realize that Zoom and Teams calls exhausted me. Research backs this up, and now I go out of my way to use the phone to connect, ‘old school’. The feeling is right, even if the technology is dated.
I have also thought a lot about how I’m feeling. I understand that every day may be different. For me, for my family, and for my colleagues. And that’s okay. But to keep moving forward, we must take a minute to acknowledge how we feel and address our needs. I used to ride my bike to work. Now my office is my home. But each work day, I strap on my helmet and ride a similar route, even if my destination is my home office. Some days I walk to work, which means walking around the block. I find biking and walking makes a huge difference in separating home life from my work life, and creating a healthy boundary, which feels especially invigorating when observing spring’s flowering trees and migrating birds. This sense of routine provides me with some “normalcy” – giving me time to reflect and clear my mind before I start my work day.
Sharing is caring
Throughout May, Boston’s I Am Jack diversity and inclusion committee is sharing weekly resources with staff to bring attention to mental health, in the hopes that talking more about it will help to diminish the stigma associated with it. And ultimately to offer useful resources. There has never been a more timely initiative and focus, two months into this pandemic. For all of my life, I’ve been blessed with optimism as my north star. Each day, I wake up and think ‘here we go’. Things are different now. Mondays are particularly hard. There are some days I simply can’t focus. I miss my colleagues. I miss the energy of the city. I worry about our future. That all being the case, I know these difficult days will pass, which gives me comfort.
Thank you ‘I Am Jack’ team, for these TED talks and podcasts, for providing content for everyone – in many formats. In the spirit of paying it forward, here are a few:
While May is mental health awareness month, it’s important to focus on our emotional health and well-being each and every day. This isn’t so much a lesson learned, as it is a great reminder. Whether it’s jotting down your thoughts in a journal, sharing how you’re feeling, or leaning on others for support – allow this global pandemic to teach us that it’s okay to take each day for what it is, and not to judge. To be patient. To be kind. To be well.