The Link 2020 – keep calm and carry on

14 Dec 2020

Over the past couple of weeks, we were pleased to be able to run two in-person lunchtime sessions of our The Link women’s event. They were held in both Auckland and Wellington on 2 and 9 December. We wanted to provide a relaxed setting for women in payments to come together and reflect on how their lives have changed this year, and how these changes impacted their professional and personal lives.

We invited two women to start this conversation with our attendees – Felicity Blake, Country Manager of FIS New Zealand joined us in Auckland, and Natalie Vaughan-Sanders, Senior Legal Counsel at Payments NZ, was at our Wellington event.

2020 – the year we kept calm and carried on

The theme for both sessions was “Did we Keep Calm and Carry On”? Felicity and Natalie both shared their experiences of adapting to life during the pandemic, and what they did and continue to do to manage work/life balance and their own wellbeing. They then opened up the floor to attendees so they could share their own stories and reflections about 2020, the challenges they faced, and what they learned in their own professional and personal lives.

Overall, at both lunches, there was an acknowledgement and appreciation of how fortunate we were to live in a country where we could come together in person safely. There was also a real sense of community among the groups as people shared their experiences. And there were some great tips shared about how to stay connected when you can’t be together.

Some of the main takeaways from the discussions were:

Maintain your workplace connections

With workplace flexibility and working from home now common in so many organisations, the groups felt it was important to continue checking in with colleagues so they could replicate the informal “water cooler” conversations that would normally take place in an office.

Technology can be used to enable connections and overcome professional and social barriers. Some people said they organised online social get-togethers with their teams as a way of staying connected throughout the lockdowns.

And while the group felt video conferencing was a great tool, there was still a desire to come together to socialise and connect in person. There was also consensus that having the video function turned on during meetings made a real difference. It made them feel more connected, engaged, and could better gauge how people are feeling – ‘turn your cameras on” was a resounding call to action for everyone in 2021.

Adapting to changing behaviours

Attendees also said they appreciated how organisations were continuing to show workplace flexibility. They agreed that there was greater acceptance from leaders and colleagues now when people needed to get away to deal to things going on in their personal lives.

Some attendees have also chosen to embrace new ways of doing things post-lockdown as it fit better with their schedules, such as taking online fitness classes rather than going to a gym.

Showing gratitude

All in all, the women who attended valued being less hectic during the lockdowns and being able to spend more time at home with their loved ones, including the four legged variety. They felt it was something positive that came out of this year of change and uncertainty.

Stories were also shared of small blessings and sad events that reminded everyone that even though it’s been a year full of uncertainty – life, including the good and not so good things, continued regardless.

They also enjoyed being able to see their colleagues in a less formal setting, as video conferencing allowed them to get a glimpse into their personal lives.  This made them feel like they got to know people even better.

And maintaining physical and mental health was highlighted as a priority. Health-wise, they emphasised how important it was to keep up eye health by spending time away from screens and continuing to stay mobile.

That’s a wrap

Due to the ongoing uncertainty and changing restrictions created by COVID-19, these December get-togethers in Auckland and Wellington were our only The Link sessions for the year. We’d like to thank our speakers and all the women who attended for their support and we look forward to safely getting together again in the new year.