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Adjusting to Life IRL



3 min read · Aug 31

About The Author

Lakshmi Shenoy

Like most organizations, Embarc Collective closed our facility on March 16th and moved all of our coaching, programming and support to over 50 early-stage startups to virtual. Functionally, the transition to virtual was pretty seamless (we are a tech hub after all), but our team often commiserated over the new challenges presented without in-person interactions. With the new challenges came new opportunities – some of our teammates even thrived by developing new mindsets and work practices.

While we were remote, our team had plenty of time to reflect and outline our observations of what we missed while being virtual and what lessons we’ll carry as we transition back to an in-person life.

During our time working from home, our team started our day with a Daily Cafe where we could check in with each other and hear about our non-work life updates. The conversation would often turn to the things we missed from life in-person:

  • Organic Interactions: “In any company – but especially in start-ups/small businesses – collaboration and inspiration happen organically with spontaneous conversations and connections. It might be within an office, knocking on someone’s door without a prior meeting, the break room, or whatever – but you simply can’t replicate the importance of personal interaction for consistent, ongoing innovation. Not sure I will take for granted the opportunity to be surrounded by smart, empathetic colleagues during the day” – Ryan Schneider
  • Having Transition Time: “I find I don’t have that “transition” time while in quarantine and the days can be very full with limited quiet time for the mind. We eliminate the typical transition time or change of space between work activities while at home.” Kailah Matyas
  • Our Ability to Read the Room: “Reading the room is such a critical part of doing business. With video conferencing, we can only rely on spoken word and minimal visual cues. But when we mute ourselves during conferences, we also mute non-verbal or “lower volume verbal” cues that indicate how the audience is receiving information.” – Lakshmi Shenoy
  • Moments Away from the Screen: “I looked forward to enhancing movement and getting out from the screen for real human interaction. Zoom and sitting in the same room in the house can be exhausting.” – Ryan Schneider

As much as we missed it, life prior to Safer at Home wasn’t completely perfect. The time away did help shine a light on new mindsets and behavior – something we can carry with us as we have moved back into in-person life.

  • Having Empathy for Your Whole Life: “I’ve met your kids when they needed help on the iPad. I met your cat when they walked in front of your laptop screen. I have seen the inside of your closets, which was the only place where you can get work done. Having a better understanding of your life helps me understand your priorities and motivations.” Lakshmi Shenoy
  • Investing in Relationships: “Quarantine has helped me understand the value of my relationships – strengthening old ties that I previously neglected to maintain because of my day-to-day schedule. With everyone going virtual, it felt easier to stay connected to my extended network despite no longer being located in those cities.” – Allie Felix
  • Creating Boundaries: “In the startup space, it’s so easy to just keep working, there is always something to do. I found that building little rituals to start and end the work day helped me establish boundaries and keep myself balanced. That’s something I want to carry with me moving forward.” – Fabio De Sousa
  • Removing the Bounds of Geography: “I make it a point to bring experts in from around the country for our weekly member programming sessions at Embarc Collective. With so many individuals working from home, I was met with tremendous openness when I asked people who were on our wishlist to participate in programming for our members. It wasn’t just that they were interested in speaking, they were also interested in meeting local startups.” – Allie Felix

Whether you’re working remotely or back in the workplace like us, we’d love to hear from you. Tweet us your tips for remote working or adjusting back to work IRL to @embarccollectiv

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