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November 🤔: On finding gratitude at work

From our Remote Works Monthly Newsletter. Sign-up today here.

It is easy to feel heavy these days, especially when logging onto LinkedIn. It’s an endless scroll of bleak news: “every story has an end” or “my role has been impacted.”

In one of Ali’s early jobs, she was on the other side of the coin. Employed by a company during layoffs, she witnessed the pain and emotional turmoil her friends were experiencing from layoffs. The company grew too fast; eventually, the bubble burst.

Ali felt guilty her role was safe, but her job had been impacted too. She had more work to do and found less joy in doing it. While she disagreed with management’s decisions, she was fearful of making a career change. Her bi-weekly paycheck barely covered her living expenses; every month, she scrambled to pay her rent on time.

It was through that experience Ali learned that layoffs are impossible both for those who leave AND those who stay. In hindsight, she’s happy to see where her friends landed—some landed in marketing and strategic roles for big brands, and others moved to smaller, creative endeavors.

Even though Ali is lucky to be outside the layoff scene today, she is experiencing her own sense of “the weight of the world” with new routines and internal struggles. (If you’re a long time reader of this newsletter, you know we refer to the weather quite a bit, though, hopefully, that doesn’t make us boring!) It’s no coincidence the gray skies overhead represent an internal sense of gloominess as well.

When Ali caught up with a former colleague recently they discussed a parallel trend seemingly countering the news of layoffs in more prosperous companies, employee engagement. In the case of their conversation, the example referenced was a LinkedIn post lamenting the decrease in employee engagement (e.g., lack of attendance at a virtual event). However, Ali wondered if we’re all just experiencing collective burnout from bad news (such as these layoffs) and a strong desire to reenter the “real” world post-Covid?

Rather than counting “heads on a screen” or likes on a post, what if there were other ways to engage, by expressing gratitude not only at work but in our lives? With that, Ali made a gratitude list from inside a cozy cafe (which alleviates the gray outside). Here it is:

  • I am grateful for the feeling of security that has allowed me to take professional risks. I try to “pay it forward,” by making introductions so people in my network might collaborate.

  • I am grateful that with the end of each job, I've been able to reconnect with lost pieces of my identity; this has opened up space for me to redefine “Ali.” I show this by sharing my vulnerability and humor in my writing.

  • I am grateful that I have the freedom and flexibility to work on a Saturday in a cafe after a book club, rather than wake up early Monday morning to commute to an office. (Tam knows this intimately, based on my influx of Asana messages on weekends and blocked calendars on weekdays to prioritize other activities that improve my well-being.)

  • I am grateful for conversations with my internet friends (they’re still real even if we have yet to meet in-person). I feel connected to people with the same mission despite working for different companies and living in different countries. Our conversations leave me energized with new ideas around “the future of work.”

  • I am grateful that I still talk to former co--workers, especially when our connection deepens rather than contracts. My calendar is a testament to these bonds—full of virtual coffee chats throughout the year.

For those of you feeling heavy or lost due to layoffs, work fatigue, or new burdens in life, we encourage you to sit with the sadness, feel all the feelings, AND then focus on gratitude. After all, tis’ the season…. What are you thankful for?

Reflection Questions:

  1. How might you create a safe space for your team to express their hopes and fears?

  2. What are ways you can show gratitude at work?

  3. What are you thankful for about your career so far? How can you turn your “thanks” into small acts of engagement in your life?


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