Lessons from 2020: 'Getting out of the comfort zone'

01 February 2021

In our ‘Lessons from 2020’ series we uncover the insights and learnings that came from this year like no other. In this second instalment, we sat down with our Corporate Communications Manager, Maria-Jose Sanchez, to get her views and takeaways on the year that was.

Before COVID began, I would secretly cringe when my family suggested catching up over video chat. There was something strange about talking to someone over a screen, something confronting about seeing yourself on camera, hearing the echo of your own voice - it just didn’t feel very natural. Fast-forward 12 months and video chats have become the norm in my life. I’ve stopped noticing the round eye of the camera staring back at me; stopped seeing the computer as the third wheel in my conversation. I guess all I needed was a bit of time to get used to this new world, which was just outside of my comfort zone.

For a lot of people and organisations, this is what the last year has been about, learning to operate in a new world that has pushed us outside of everything we were comfortable with. Pushed us out of our routine, of the usual ways of doing business, of connecting with people we love.

No one will deny the change has been challenging - but boy has it also brought us opportunities.

Necessity is the mother of invention

A few weeks ago, a had a telehealth appointment with my GP that took 10 minutes out of my lunch break; she then texted me my prescription as a QR code which the pharmacist scanned directly from my phone. I saved an hour of commuting, and the world had one less car on the road and one less tree chopped down just to print me a piece of paper I would keep for all of 10 minutes. Why in the world had we not been doing this all along? Why did we need a global pandemic to get us exploring what could be?

Fear of the unknown

My three-year-old panics when he knows it’s time to turn off the light at night. I comfort him knowing full well that he’s not the only one scared of the dark. We are programmed to be wary of the unknown, to prefer the old to the new, to be sceptical of change. Someone someplace once said that as people ‘we would prefer to be unhappy than uncertain,’ and so much of that rings true. There is safety in what we know, in the familiar, in the comfortable.

And yet, once in a while, something comes along that makes change no longer an option.

The communication acceleration

Last year, we revved up the engine of change like no time in recent history. We reinvented work life, we repackaged customer service and we accelerated communication technology. It has been a frantic but exciting time for anyone in communications. Organisations throughout the globe have quickly adapted, with face-to-face options disrupted. They’ve had to cater for mobile and dispersed workforces, for varying levels of computer access, and to a world that changes at a mile-a-minute and relies on instant updates.

Last year, I had the privilege of leading the rollout of our first employee app, Connecteam. A first, not only for SMCT but for many organisations across Australia that for so long had relied on email, the morning standup and the kitchen flyer. While Connecteam is a baby step in the future possibilities, it brings me a lot of pride. Pride in the agility our organisation had, to move from idea to launch so swiftly; pride in the support and enthusiasm we have among our teams to make a project like this come to life; pride in having a tool that can now connect every voice and every employee– regardless of whether they’re behind a computer, a lawnmower, or the counter at our amazing café.

For many of us it will take a little adjustment and a little 'getting used to’ but as someone wise once said, ‘the biggest rewards in life are found just outside of your comfort zone’.

Contact Maria-Jose to learn more about our communications team initiatives or get in touch with communications@smct.org.au if you have a project you think your colleagues might want to learn more about, or you’d like to share your own reflections on 2020.

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