Paul Butler: Working together

Paul Butler

I was walking our little dog just last night and saw one of the two young sons of our neighbors playing on his little scooter near the house with his brother.

After asking Diego how he and his family were, I inquired about his schoolwork, knowing that he was now taking all his classes online: “It’s cool but I just really miss being with my friends.” Diego sees his friends online but he’s not actually with his friends.

Last week we decided to start hosting a weekly happy hour over Zoom — we even came up with a funky title: “Zappy Hour.” It was fun. It was great to see people. We even had one old friend appear in a Zoom box from New Zealand. It was quirky and hilarious for an hour but it wasn’t like actually being in the presence of our friends.

Our son Henry works for MGM studios as a financial analyst and thankfully he can do all of his work remotely. Henry is being very productive and he’s conversing with his work colleagues all day long either via phone; email; one-to-one chat messaging or group video conferences. I asked him how he’s doing and he said: “It’s all good — but I just miss being with my coworkers in the same building.”

Therein lies the relational challenge during these strange days — we see people but we’re not actually with them. I am so grateful for the technology that’s now available to us — can you imagine how hard these days would be if we didn’t have the technology we have nowadays?

I am not sure when this will all end or how it will all end but I am hoping we will all be changed a little on the inside when we get to the other side.

As employees, I am hoping we will all appreciate our jobs a little more and not moan so much. As employers, I am hoping we will be satisfied with what we have rather than always striving to make more, do more and have more.

I am hoping we will all come out of this much more grateful for the freedoms we have and the beauty we have around us in nature. I am hoping we will love our families, friends and even show greater compassion to complete strangers much more.

Just as I watch Diego playing with his younger brother on their scooters racing around in the early-evening Californian air I love so much, I know Henry is looking forward to shooting the breeze on a coffee break for a few minutes with his work pals at MGM. As cool as it is for us to deliver webinars for our clients and design eLearning modules, there’s much to be said for the energy and creativity that comes from facilitating learning and development in person and onsite.

Even as technology dominates so much of our personal and professional lives, it’s refreshing for me to be reminded during these dark days of the brightness of the human spirit — deep, deep down we all know we’re meant to be together and we’re better together. Consider all of the remarkable endeavors that mankind has embarked upon — accomplished by people working together, most often, physically shoulder to shoulder to achieve something quite remarkable that was at first, considered impossible.

I am looking forward to us all being able to get back to work. Regardless of one’s political leanings, the president’s comments about us “needing to get back to work” and that this country was “built to work” resonated deeply with me. There is something noble and honorable in the work we all do regardless of whether we’re an employee or an employer. I hope we all return with a stronger spring in our step and a greater spirit to serve.

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