2021: The Year of Flexibility
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
We all stepped into 2021 with a lot of hope. We knew this hope would need to be tempered with patience but flipping that calendar felt like an important fresh step.
At that same time, when we talk to friends and colleagues, the questions of “How long will it take to get back to ‘normal’?” and “How will the pandemic have changed us?” frame a lot of our discussions. We can’t leave this global challenge without being changed by the communal trauma of the pandemic and by the lessons learned about our values, our work habits, and the ways that we can connect personally and professionally.
We celebrate how far we’ve come with the growing number of people being vaccinated, and we look forward to when it is our turn. But we also look toward the future without having all the answers.
This is why our word of the year is “Flexibility.” It builds nicely on the foundation that we laid in 2020 with “Balance.” Part of the way we achieve balance is through flexibility. Now that we have a balanced footing, we want to move forward with flexibility. Flexibility is one of Scriptorium’s core values which we define as “the freedom to be self-directed while balancing professional and personal expectations.”
We take a flexible approach to our internal teamwork. All of us are balancing childcare or caregiving in our personal lives, so we give each other permission to be flexible about our schedules and our workloads. We ask and rearrange when help within our team is needed. This requires trust in each other. It is about controlling our time and attention with intention and honest communication. It is about being practical about meeting deadlines and client expectations without being didactic about when and how we meet them.
We are also flexible with our clients. Often projects start with optimism about deliverables and deadlines. Sometimes there is a clearly defined project. Sometimes there is a vague concept of what needs to be done and we define an approach through it. Regardless of where they are at, we work with clients to define the work and the deliverables.
Project plans and workloads shift around us. Projects get bigger or smaller. A critical rush job comes up. Deadlines get pushed. Document reviews require extra time. So we pull the rush project forward and push the other project to next week. Sometimes we put in a long day for a rush job and other times we will take the afternoon off because there is nothing pressing and the sun is shining outside.
When projects take longer to finish and document reviews are delayed by clients' shifting priorities, so often they will apologize to us for being late. “Our schedule is your schedule,” I frequently say.
This year will require us to take that flexible mindset to the future. We don’t know when we can return to in-person client meetings or networking events. We don’t know when we can do more in-person presentations or workshops about communications and writing. For now, like so many, we have improvised with online approaches. The unknowns can create anxiety because we can’t set a firm plan. But do we need to?
In a lot of ways, contracting with multiple clients has been a boot camp for this approach. It’s rare that we know exactly which clients we will be working with in six months or a year. But we do know that when we put in the work and keep building relationships with potential new clients and longstanding clients, we keep our business strong and stable. A good foundation helps us to bend with the push and pull of our work.
We can’t make set plans for our business, but we can set flexible goals and work together to achieve them.
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