What has lockdown taught me about leaning into vulnerability in business?

As we continue to head into some of the most challenging times that we have faced in a generation, personally and in business, I am forcing myself on a daily basis to pause and reflect on what has been endured and also, as importantly, achieved across the last few months.
I wrote a post on my personal social media on the 20th March, as the schools closed, sharing how sad and fragile I felt as we looked into the inevitability of the coming weeks and months. Looking back on it this morning, one sentence poignantly jumps out at me today – the week before schools return in Scotland…
‘I feel really, really sad for everything that is happening right now… on a macro scale in terms of life and death, the economy and the apocalyptic scenes coming out of Italy and on a micro scale when I think about what the kids are missing out on, the uncertainty ahead of us all and the shrinking down of all of our experiences in the next few months.’
I don’t think I could possibly have known what the last few months would have brought with them, and while I don’t think I was miles off in terms of my initial thinking, there have been so many other highs and lows that have come with lockdown and the period we are in now, as we inch nervously out of it. Never before has my work life and my family life collided so colossally.
I have always said, I don’t strive for ‘work life balance’ just ‘life balance’. As a working mum, whose career has always been incredibly important to me, it seemed liked an impossibility that these two significant parts of my make up could ever be mutually exclusive. I have wrestled for nearly a decade to try and achieve an ideological scenario where I could ‘have it all’. Today I realise, that while the blending of home and work life that has been imposed upon us has brought with it a whole host of benefits that I certainly will be looking to protect moving forwards, (reduced commuting costs and time, ‘connection’ with my very young family around a breakfast, lunch and dinner table, an energy for exercise and self care that was always the first thing to go on my to do list to name a few) the myriad of the emotions that have come with it have been really hard to rationalise. On an almost daily basis, the intensity of pivoting entire business roadmaps overnight and the fraught nature of stressful conversations over Zoom and Teams has undoubtedly permeated its way into our family energy. Back to back online meetings, managed between my husband and I, a toddler (being potty trained no less) and 2 primary school children, meant that home schooling almost always was the first thing to go in the daily battle of diary management. Bringing with it waves of parental guilt day in and day out. We have made it work. Our oldest kids majorly stepped up and spent hours on end entertaining their little brother, and the weather coupled with the privilege of a garden was more than a blessing, but today re reading my post from the 20th March made me stop in my tracks. Yes some of our experiences have been shrunk, and yes my kids haven’t had the most formal of schooling environments, but as a family we dug in. We have been shoulder to shoulder as husband and wife and the kids have watched as we have worked in a totally equal partnership to balance conflicting schedules in real time in a way that kept them safe and happy. That is an example, I am incredibly proud both my daughter and sons will hopefully see as the norm in their futures. They have also learned inordinate amounts about team work, compassion, compromise and using their incredible imaginations – not to mention an agile delivered bedroom transformation programme! They have worked through hard-hitting emotions like loneliness, anxiety and sometimes, plain old fear. In reality their emotions have been mirrored in the adults all around me. I wonder if some of the inevitable ‘leaning into vulnerability’ that can come so easily to children, has also been inevitable for us as adults as we have worked through something as gargantuan as a Global Pandemic. Has some of this vulnerability led to the brilliant innovation, collaboration and bravery I have seen in recent months, as colleagues across businesses have also been shoulder to shoulder, carrying this mutual load between them, focusing on playing to each others strengths to get the best possible result? I think it would be hard to say it hasn’t.
My company strapline, is ‘putting the human bit into technology’. Covid19 has made me realise this expands way beyond just technology and has never been a more important part of any business transformation. Putting humans at the centre of everything you do is now more critical than ever. Covid19 has touched everyone and as businesses look tentatively to the future and what their recovery roadmaps could look like, I hope that humanity is at the centre of them.