Wiegertje Groenveld, Angel Investor, Startup Whisperer, Trendcomber and Partnership Manager, shared with us her vision of how to work in the new decade. It was an insightful presentation about the opportunities and the challenges of the digital workplace. She covered different roles: being a co-worker, leading a team or being a manager; and highlighted that our joint challenge is how to stay in touch and stay motivated. Questions such as how to build a real community online made me think about whether there is a difference between this type of community or one where we can meet in person.
Are we less connected because we cannot experience the physical presence of others? I think to a great degree that we, as social beings need to be in the presence of others to satisfy all our social needs, but under the given circumstances, online working, teaching and learning are a true blessing.
Wiegertje addressed aspects about leadership, and her belief that new leaders, next to their leadership skills have to be good coaches, taking the needs of their co-workers seriously in a different way. To keep up motivation in times of social isolation is a challenge we all face as helping each other over a cup of tea is simply not possible. Therefore, purpose is the main motivator and people are more aware of the importance of answering this question: What is my purpose in life, do I enjoy what I am doing, and is my work purposeful?
In this context, autonomy seems to be a major motivator in our online work situation. Given that our employers allow for flexibility, we cannot only choose when to work but also how to work.
Personally, I thought the discussion about AQ was very interesting. According to Wiegertje, leaders as well as co-workers not only need to possess IQ and EQ, but also AQ – an agility quotient. The agility quotient describes the ability to be flexible, to adapt and adjust to new and emerging situations in the work and social environment.
I believe that expats in general, and also parents have acquired a great deal of AQ, as moving to different countries, adapting to new cultures cultivates our ability for agility. Not to be stuck in old patterns and routines but to regularly challenge and question traditions and find new ways to work and to live.
For those of us who are parents, we went through a steep learning curve when it came to being flexible, and we are thus agile.
Wiegertje got the attendees of her presentation engaged in a very interesting discussion by asking questions about the meaning of work, how we create intimacy in the workplace when we are distanced from our colleagues, how we can ensure that we take time offline and how we can deal with constantly seeing our own image during online conferences and video calls.
There is a rise in mental illnesses during this crisis, and we discussed how to tackle those challenges. We all agreed that now, more than ever before, it is important to connect to your senses, to satisfy the needs of touch and feel, to smell and also to move. Being out in nature, connecting with your breathing, making sure to take time offline were some strategies on how to stay sane and healthy in uncertain times. It is important to design your own toolbox, your own strategy to cope with stress, and in the workplace, it is important to share and agree on values in order to keep this workplace human.
The monthly meetings with members of the WBII have always been very sociable and informative. Now, more than ever the strength of this network becomes visible as the WBII holds us female entrepreneurs together, keeps us informed and allows for the exchange of professional and personal experiences, emotions, and encouragement. As always, I am grateful to be a member of this wonderful network and to the Board who manages to keep us all connected and organises informative, inspiring and insightful presentations!