Coronavirus: let’s tackle the change, together
In last year’s CFT magazine, various articles spoke about “time spent in the company” and of the “passion” that every person in the CFT Group puts into being a present and active member of their department. It is easy to see that over the past few months of Coronavirus’ pandemic, all our routines, points of reference, job attitudes have been severely tested in the context of a scenario that has turned everything on its head and as a result we have had to put ourselves completely out there. For many of us, our physical presence in the company has all but disappeared and we have had to learn new ways and means of doing our job better.
Coronavirus is not just a global health emergency. It has also been a significant push for change in our day-to-day experiences that has radically transformed both individual and social behaviour. Every one of us has been forced to accept, in addition to different working conditions, social isolation, different ways of relating, new buying behaviours, and management of family and of free time.
From a work point of view, what does all this entail?
Places and social identity
The German sociologist, Ferdinand Tönnies divided social groups into two broad categories: society and community.
Society is based on weak ties: a collection of individuals who meet for occasional or instrumental reasons – for example, the purchase of goods, the provision of services – and they agree to respect a series of common principles. For this reason the relationships between the subjects do not touch on their diverse individualities, just their performance.
Households, groups of friends, sporting associations, and yes, even companies, are made up like communities. It is strong bonds that create communities: blood ties (family and kinship), emotional (relationships) and place (the sharing of spaces). At the foundation of the community we have a mutual relationship felt by the participants and based on a lasting, intimate and exclusive coexistence. The result is a link that makes members similar to each other and creates a permanent bond.
As the social psychologist goes on to explain, the concept of community is closely linked to that of place and recently the husband and wife team, May-Britt and Edvard Moser (winners of the Nobel Prize for medicine), found out why: our brain has the innate capacity to recognize physical places and the people within them. In fact several neurons are able to immediately recognize both the boundaries that surround us (place cells and grid cells) and the position of other people within them (social place cells).
This capacity plays a central role in our memory function, especially autobiographical, because it uses places to build our social identity. We are workers because we go to the company, we are students because we go to school, we are fans because we go to the stadium, we are sick because we are in hospital and so on.
What a lot of us have found out for ourselves is that since we don’t live in the workplace, it is difficult to build a sense of community. If we think, for example, about video-conferences: there is no doubt that talking to your colleagues on Teams is not the same thing as having a chat with them over a coffee.
Teams, Zoom, and Meet are not places and do not activate spatial neurons.
Without places, our autobiographical memory does not update, leaving us with the feeling of having spent many days that are almost the same, weakening our sense of being part of the same community.
Tackling the change
We are people with the need to evolve. In a constantly changing environment, losing the challenge of change means holding on to old mental patterns that no longer work, fuelling fears and frustration in the different areas that shape our lives.
Mental schemes acquired over the years give certainties and do so regardless of their efficiency. Calling them into question means letting go of a little security while we wait to consolidate new schemes that better serve our goals.
The first step is becoming aware of this moment: how many times have we heard the phrase “the first step in solving a problem is to understand that there is a problem”? It is time to embrace this sense of loss and disorientation that we are experiencing, and look for new elements while reformulating what community means for us.
This is the intention that has accompanied CFT Group in recent months and one that we will continue to pursue in 2021.
HR activities in this new context
In this regard, the HR Department has gone through a process of constant evolution in 2020 with a view to improving its role.
With the primary objective of a comprehensive employee management, we are increasingly structuring it as a Group role to support all the subsidiaries concerning the administrative aspects of personnel, organization and development.
New methods have been adopted, new programmes, new approaches to newly identified needs. From the major effort of recording attendance in smart working, to the management of trips by the Travel department, to looking after the safety protocol.
Training is migrating from physical presence to Digital Learning while maintaining a high degree of involvement from the participants. Communication activities have been strengthened internally as well as externally in close contact with the Marketing department, including Smart Guides, LinkedIn and corporate website restructuring.
The best we can hope for in 2021 is to be able to exploit the changes taking place as a big opportunity for growth. Let’s do it all together, as a community.