I remember especially the first CDs, the Nintendo Nes, my Kenner Star Wars figurines and the rise of Glam Metal.  In addition to spandex and hairbands, this controversial music genre also gave us gems such as Motley Crue, Van Halen and Def Leppard.  With “Bringin on the Heartbreak”, the latter became the first hard rock band ever to have a celebrated video on MTV.  But it is their single “Rock of Ages” that brings me to the theme of this article on cooperation.  The prelude is “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”, the rock ‘n roll synonym for ‘to stand still is to go backwards’.  And that was just the wrong leitmotif for 2021.

Over the last few months, professional reality has changed radically for most of us. The reaction to this was human, and we were quick to take action.  Thrilled by the ‘illusion of control’, the overestimation of how much influence we can exert over a situation, we threw ourselves into alternative forms of work and homeworking. Portfolios were expanded via digital alternatives, the dictionary made some extra room for the verb ‘to zoom’ and colourful apps appeared as an alternative to human contact.

But the breach between voluntary and mandatory homeworking soon came. It was no longer enough to be a good employee.  At home we still bore on our frail shoulders the responsibilities of cooks, sanitation workers and teachers.  And it was not only the fear of infection that held us captive.  The fear of losing network connection also caused a severe attack of technostress. Not to mention the obligatory trips to the do-it-yourself store because of the impossible task of transforming the broom cupboard into a comfortable workspace.

The poor soul who could not work from home due to the nature of the job did not fare better. The coffee corner become off-limits, the canteen was replaced by lunch in the car, and it proved difficult to share the workload because the manager was sick at home.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the trade journals, and by extension all media, have reported on the emotional, mental or physical overload in the workplace in recent months. Our professional well-being is under pressure.  A survey of 130 countries carried out by the World Health Organisation shows that almost 75% of organisations have noticed a decline in mental health and disruption to mental health services.

And this is where it becomes painful. The road ahead requires marathon runners, not sprinters.  In the coming year, various organisations will be faced with the task of adapting or radically changing their operations.  The challenge for any form of cooperation, from large organisations to small teams, is therefore to maintain their change capability.  This is only possible if employees remain mentally and physically capable of handling change.  Change capability requires professional well-being. The question is how to maintain or improve this well-being. Fortunately, Bon Jovi can help us with this.