Food for Thought: Distance is Fostering Diversity

Food for Thought: Distance is Fostering Diversity

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At Sympli, I always knew we were diverse, you know, kind of like Liquorice Allsorts. We’re made up of different sizes, characteristics and colours and that’s great. But what I’ve come to realise in recent weeks is that we’re also quite layered, more like my Mum’s homemade trifle (trust me, that’s a good thing).

Firstly, you’re probably wondering why I’m using food as an analogy. Let me just say that all this working from home does lend itself to a lot more snacking – so it seemed logical to use food to explain it. Anyway, back to my Mum’s trifle! It’s a wonderful, layered mixture of things that in isolation each have uniquely wonderful characteristics. However, when layered together they surprise you by creating an entirely new depth. Something that might have otherwise gone untouched (the bottle of brandy Mum throws in also helps).

Professional, meet Personal: I think you’ll be good friends

This particularly rang true to me last week after a colleague said something I thought to be quite profound. He reflected that at this time, especially with the rapid move to working remotely, our professional lives are meshing with our personal lives more than ever.

Even the most private person is letting their colleagues into their home through the now irreplaceable need for video conferencing or the many other nuanced parts of our lives that we might otherwise leave at the door when we come into the office. We now know which of us has children or lives alone. Who has a dog or three. How many plants you’ve got in your lounge room and which ones are still alive. What casual clothes people wear and what people look like without makeup and bed hair. So why, you might ask, is that a good thing?

Diversity connecting us from afar

It is creating a new layer of diversity and acceptance in the workplace. People are connecting with those they wouldn’t typically interact with simply because we have allowed each other ‘in’ a little more. The music poster on a back wall during a morning video call has connected colleagues that had no idea they had the same taste in music. The bundle of fur jumping onto a manager’s lap during an important meeting has inspired another employee to get their own dog to keep them company during an isolating time. The noticeable noise of children rambling in the background has connected two colleagues to share tips on how to stay sane and keep their kids entertained at home.

Use the distance to get closer

Celebrating differences and maintaining engagement has always been important for Sympli. We understand, respect and we acknowledge it drives a better workplace. But as our workplace is changing, just like most Australian workplaces, it’s never been more important to ensure we work cohesively towards our goals to continue our success. As businesses, it’s our connectedness in the workplace that allow us to weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side.

It’s been a difficult time for many of us, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by negativity and noise. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the ways in which this experience has improved our connections and what we can do to foster it in the workplace. I encourage all businesses to look for the ways you can connect during this time. Just like adding layers of fruit, custard, jelly and cake, we’ve created something with more depth through being in people’s homes; learning more about their lives; discovering similarities and appreciating differences.

I’m off to get some trifle.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona is Sympli's Head of HR and brings almost 20 years’ human resources, training and coaching experience from a range of industries including technology, sport/fitness, finance, hospitality and automotive. She plays an integral role in delivering HR initiatives that are innovative, agile and data driven while developing our people to the best versions of themselves, both personally and professionally. Did we mention she’s a two-time medal-winning Olympian?
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