Starting a new job at the height of a global pandemic, without meeting anyone physically for the first five months, isn’t exactly how I imagined by next career move beginning, but that’s exactly how my life at Standard Chartered began in May 2020.
I must admit, it was an unusual experience. As a leader, I needed to support and motivate my team, but diving straight into work without having met any of them face-to-face was challenging. I hadn’t fully appreciated until then just how much we convey through body language and eye contact, and how much actually gets done through hallway conversations and over coffees. According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, 7 per cent of meaning in what we say is communicated through spoken word, 38 per cent through tone of voice, and 55 per cent through body language. We’ve all had to learn in a relatively short period of time how to communicate effectively while working remotely.
I could see the lockdown was taking a toll on my team. Our virtual meetings were very focused on work and the boundaries between work and home-life started to blur. While this allowed us to be more productive, we were missing the human touch that happens naturally at the office and I could see fatigue setting in.