Early last year, my sister was diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma, the news shook my family to the core because we have no family history of cancer! It was no brainer for the family to then decide that her treatment is best done back in my hometown under my parent’s care and supervision in a safer & more comfortable environment.
That leaves me here in Kuala Lumpur and I felt very torn because I want to be there for my sister through her treatment but I still need to be in Kuala Lumpur for work.
Never could I have imagined that, upon sharing the news to my boss and team, they quickly worked out a win-win plan where I could divide my time between KL and my hometown so that I can continue working AND still be with my sister in a different state!
I spent my time going back and forth between two states every 2 weeks for over 5 months. This definitely required some adaptation from both sides; I accelerated my transition to a new role so that it would be possible for me to work remotely (this was last year when working remotely wasn’t a norm!), and the team adapted to having one team member working remotely and this included scheduling meetings over Zoom and lots of pre-planning to include me in projects and programmes (even the fun; like trying to feed me chips over Zoom).
We always talk about how a workplace is a joyplace when a company is able to fulfill Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. With the arrangement, not only do I get to keep my job and salary (Level 1; Physiological Needs & Level 2; Safety, checked), I get to be with my sister and family and still feel that I’m part of my team (Level 3; Love & Belonging, checked), with my acceleration into my new role with many opportunities to learn and grow (Level 4; Esteem & Level 5; Self-Actualisation are also fulfilled).
The lengths that my team has gone to make this a win for both sides was mind blowing. They even made a day trip to my hometown and surprised me on my birthday so that they could bring me joy on my birthday knowing that it was a hard time for me!
It was not easy but when I felt taken care of by the company, I felt it was easier to contribute back at work despite the circumstances. A joyplace can mean many things, to me it is when I know that I have a second family at work who always have my back and make things work no matter what. A joyplace is when work is not only work, but you get to be 100% yourself, you care about each other’s lives (personal included) and you find meaning in the work.