My top 5 people lessons of 2020

By Viviana Notcovich December 29, 2020

Viviana Notcovich is Singular’s VP of People

Plenty has been said about this traumatic year. We are so glad it is over!

While it has been painful, we are thankful for our collective learning. Like most others, our employee experience at Singular has been shaped by 2020’s new reality and will be significantly different moving forward. 2020 forced us to adapt and accelerate the implementation of habits that needed to be acknowledged long ago, and it taught us a lot along the way. A few notable lessons include:

We are resilient (and we are tired)

We showed ourselves that we can overcome as a group, incredible challenges.
I don’t mean to be cheesy, but I have been around enough to identify a strong culture (and I’m not talking about a ping-pong table and beer on tap).
Here at Singular, we have it, and we are proud of what we have accomplished in 2020 (against all odds!). But it took a toll on all of us – we have learned to acknowledge our own limits, be sensitive to each other and plan ahead with a people-centric perspective: some of us need a break, some of us crave more challenges, some of us need connection, some of us need recognition, and some of us need other things … We have learned that we are all vulnerable in some different way.
Our job is to identify the unique value proposition for each one of us and enable everyone to thrive.

We are wired for connection

Prioritizing our health drove us to close our offices in some countries and minimize attendance in others. But we understand that we are wired and fed by interpersonal relationships.
We are blessed to work with an extraordinary group of people, and we want to enjoy each other. We learned that we value our flexibility, our off-rush hour’s commute, and our family time, but we miss each other. Therefore we will implement a hybrid work model where everyone will find their own balance and optimize our own schedules.
We were never a 9 to 5 company, but in 2020 we learned that each of us peaks in a slightly different performance style and we need the flexibility to let each one of us pick our own optimal work mode.

We can hire and onboard exceptional people remotely

We hired exceptional people differently: without ever meeting them face-to-face! Whether in Beijing, Nagpur, or San Ramon, we found special new team members this year.
We adjusted our hiring process to get to know each other differently; we found their spark and showed ours remotely. We learned that we are a strong employer brand and exceptional people choose to join us.
Our job now is to retain and develop our new talent: also remotely.

Caring, listening, and empathy are a priority

We are not all in the same boat!
During 2020 some of us got sick, some of us took care of sick family members, some of us worked from our kitchen tables surrounded by noisy roommates, some of us felt lonely in our apartments, some of us took Pre-K Zoom calls while solving a customer crisis, some of us dealt with a partner who lost their job, and some of us faced other crises… 2020 was challenging in so many different ways, so we’ve learned to support each other in both personal and personalized ways that fit each of our specific circumstances.

Diversity and inclusion are not luxury policies for big companies

Even though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gives smaller companies a pass on reporting metrics, it is in our own best interest to build a diverse workforce.
It is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. According to McKinsey’s report, companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity are 33% more likely to outperform on profitability.
In a way, 2020 was an overdue awakening for all of the systemic discrimination. And we learned that what feels right to our values is right for our businesses.


We are finally turning the 2020 page and leaving it behind (yay!).

But we cannot deny it was a transformational year. We are a different community of people than we were on January 1, 2020.
A lot has been written about it, and this year is, of course, leaving deep scars in our society as a whole and our private individual experiences. We also know that the problems that appeared or surfaced in 2020 won’t magically disappear in 2021.

What we can do, however, is learn from our collective experiences and become a little bit better each day. Here’s to 2021 that’s better than 2020, partly because of all we’ve learned this past year!

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