By Lisa Aggarwal
I really thought that I was prepared.
As a Catholic school student, I endured endless detention threats regarding dress code violations. As an HR professional, I have mediated endless dress code disputes. I’ve coached clients on how to appear more professional via their attire. Corporate offices were previously “business casual,” now they are “CASUAL casual.” It seems that so much of our culture is linked to our external appearance. We are even taught to dress for the role we seek. I thought I had nailed how to dress for success.
But this is a new day. Just as Chicago has issued a new stay-at-home advisory for the next 30 days in response to rising Covid-19 cases, I get hit with these two articles. On the same day, within five minutes.
We know that video conferences and remote work have opened a gateway to a more casual corporate uniform–but are sweatsuits the new power suit? Sometimes I will throw a blazer on to give the impression I mean business (all while wearing my yoga pants)…but now I need one with shoulder pads? Maybe I should just keep a “Zoom shirt” in my office (by office, I mean kitchen) for video conferences and call it a day. Hopefully I don’t end up like one of my countless friends who accidentally have stood up during an online meeting only to expose their pajama bottoms.
Today, it seems that most of us are just seeking comfort, in any form. Perhaps this will cause a subliminal shift to pay less attention to external appearance and more to an employee’s value and contribution. Or one can only hope!
How has your business handled dress codes, or lack thereof?
It might seem obvious to speak about three women upon whom I am dependent for my body not seizing up on me from sitting for seven months—but it is not THAT stretching I am referring to.
One of the best business books I picked up in a long time is Stretch – Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined. One of the things most appreciated is that the author, an organizational development expert, provides research to back up many of my own theories from years of observing. A key theme in the book is resourcefulness—making do with what you have at hand versus waiting for the perfect desk, office, or moment.
In my own life, one of the best examples of the resourcefulness that I’ve experienced during this pandemic comes from three people who have spent the past several years teaching me how to stretch, literally. Using different modalities, Stephanie, Kathleen, and Sarah have stretched, and strengthened me, using different aspects of PT, Gyrotonic, and Pilates. In the midst of a national pandemic, I was not ready to give up my own stretching, especially as being confined to quarters made me feel like I was shrinking.
Exactly as Scott Sonenshein describes, these three women on whom I have come to rely on for my physical well-being, quickly figured out how their other clients and I could improvise without a studio and equipment. Anyone who is familiar with Pilates or Gyrotonic understands that they typically involve elaborate equipment, but I quickly sourced some additional foam rollers and my physical therapist sent out therapy bands to several of her clients. Being an early lover of Zoom, I was able to lend a hand in coordinating us all online. One day we decided that the screen definition was a little too good when one of the instructors could detect a muscle group that was not engaging!
All three of these lifesavers have invented new techniques, improvised equipment for clients who didn’t have weights at home (soup cans are just fine!) and focused on what was most important—the physical health and well-being of their clients.
Where are places that you have stretched?
At the outset of the quarantine, or work from home, or life via Zoom, it seemed that we were all learning, or relearning statistics—R0 and R1. Now a whole new vocabulary has emerged to describe our current life. Here are a few chuckles for this short week:
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