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People might be more familiar with something referring to a marriage when they hear the word engagement. But what is it really especially when it comes to the workspace? And it gets trickier as we now are in a virtual environment. How do you get the focused attention of anyone you can’t see (Camera is off), hear (Hey, you are talking on mute) or feel. Not that it was any easier when we were actually together in one room. However, nothing can really beat such novel challenges due to network issues, crying babies, barking dogs and cars honking among others. Just how do you do it? How do you still get the involvement and participation that you want, or more importantly, the belongingness you desperately need.
With the current physical restrictions, we can of course scrap any kind of meet ups. We now basically herald video conferencing / chats and connectivity as the best inventions in the world. We do everything online together – dance, exercise, sing, cook, compete, plant, cry and laugh. Social Media platforms had just exploded with people putting any; I mean just any content online. Everyone has become an entrepreneur in some form or manner. DIY’s abound (they are truly helpful or at the very least animating). These have been a staple to fill the void left by the physical presence and interaction we long for.
However, the current set up has surely resulted to screen fatigue for a lot of folks. Even a self-confessed introverted technology-averse (mind the improvement from being challenged) individual that I am (this would have been the ideal world for me) there is a longing and nagging feeling to stay connected with everyone, someone, or just anyone, one way or another. Then you go back in time when there was no mobile phone, no streaming, no social media, no email and no super malls. You wrote on greeting cards, listen to drama on the radio, you literally dial a phone (best if you had a party line – “Hello?! I am using the phone!?!?”), or you meet up at the corner of the street just to hang out. Ah those were happy primitive times.
The value of positivity and resilience with a dash of creativity goes a long way
Back to reality though. An idea pop up. You figured you can actually use a pen to write, albeit needing time to get the hang of it again. You start meetings by making faces to placate the crying baby of your colleague, talk about the dog and ask who just arrived when you heard a honking car. You talk to someone on the phone to catch up – just plain audio please. You start reading books again, any book that you can get your hands on. You send baked goodies you made or ordered (no judgements) to someone. You learn to stop working all the time and play board games with your family. You let your brain rest and stare at the stars for no reason at all. You get your favorite drink, enjoy some quiet time and just do nothing.
The value of positivity and resilience with a dash of creativity goes a long way. The Little Prince said - “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well”. We would surely find a way to make this new normal work for us and innovate how we connect, or also as important, to disconnect. But more importantly we also developed the connection with ourselves by moving slower, being kinder and more compassionate. We found a purer connection with our world. We found the well of hope, strength, peace and joy even in the driest and trying of times. We have engaged in life. Nothing else can be better than that.