Looking Back While Preparing for the Year to Come

Posted by: Joy T. Apple on December 30, 2021

Ready or not, next week is the start of not only a new work week but a new year. 2021 has presented us with a variety of challenges. Globally, we entered a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of us have returned to our offices, some are still working remotely, and others are navigating hybrid work scenarios as “return to work/office” efforts have been stalled. For the record, I loathe the phrase “return to work.” Work never stopped, in fact for many of us it increased as we brought work home and has yet to leave our living rooms and dining tables. “Return to office” gets my vote.

WFH Woman-1 Coworkers-1
New Normal? 

The so-called new normal of 2021 has seemed anything but normal, and in many ways not the experience we had hoped for after 2020. However, I find myself looking ahead to 2022 with a renewed sense of optimism and excitement. Perhaps the same optimism I felt this time last year.

Despite the many challenges, there have been good things to come out of the last year. Has anyone else noticed a significantly different attitude about background noises on Teams calls?

Working Mom

I have a customer with the rule that if a pet makes its presence known during a call it must be introduced. Family has been involved in work calls more often, too. I have a client in Ireland and during a meeting, due to the lateness of the hour in his time zone, his young daughter in pjs and with stuffed giraffe in arm climbed up into his lap to wind down for the evening. A great example of work/life balance at its best.

Preparing for 2022 

2022 will be bringing professional challenges for me, personally and
professionally, as I step into a very new role as Chief of Operations ay PAIT Group. The year stretches before me like a blank canvas, and I have an overwhelming sense of responsibility to choose my subject, colors, and media well. This week I’ve filled my Rocketbook with notes, made dozens of lists, and written on every piece of mail that’s been set on my desk, struggling to capture each idea as soon as it crosses my mind.



I realized today I’m not taking the same advice I give my customers. When I’m working with business and IT teams facing the daunting task of building and migrating to a new intranet, I advise them to tackle it the same way one might go about eating an elephant: one bite at a time.

For me that means taking the hours in my day more seriously. My bite-sized list looks like this:

  • Blocking time on my calendar for important tasks and focus time
    • Honoring the time I’ve set aside
  • Allowing myself to close Outlook (maybe even Teams) for periods of time during the day
  • Using Viva Insights habitually
    • Making sure to log tasks during my virtual commute
  • Use the board view in Outlook (PWA) so I can see my calendar and tasks side by side

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of 2022? Yes, it’s going to be different, new unknowns are going to pop up, and we’ll still be figuring out this whole hybrid (or flexible) work model. But if we tackle these challenges in small, manageable chunks, it won’t overwhelm.

What are some bite-sized actions you can take to make the coming year more manageable? Let’s work on them together. We’ve got all year to figure it out.


All the best in 2022,




Topics: Intelligent Workplace, Planning, remote work, hybrid, Productivity

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