Hands up if COVID is in every conversation you have. (Sometimes the whole entire convo unless you bring it back kicking and screaming to whatever you were meant to be talking about.)
I, for one, cannot count the rabbithole hours I’ve spent reading about it.
It’s an epidemic.
Nah, it’s not worse than the flu.
No don’t cancel anything.
I was even introduced to a website that has real-time updates on cases and death tolls – by country – for those who are figuring out travel.
And an app that shows you heat stamps of people in high density infected areas like China, Korea and Italy.
But we are in a time of social distancing. And the scientific thinking around “flattening the curve” seems like sage advice.
“we’re left with an old but quite effective strategy: social distancing. It means staying out of close contact in crowded public places, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining space – approximately six feet – between yourself and others when possible.
Social distancing requires changes in how people work, live and interact with each other. It may require canceling or avoiding big events, limiting nonessential travel and rescheduling conferences.”
And that comes with a significant economic impact, the harbingers of doom say.
Good grief, people! Let’s get a grip. (Forgive me, if I sound like the over simplifier in the corner.)
In my conversations this week, one big thing that’s been coming up for businesses is how to make up for the missed experiential opportunities.
OMG, the conferences are over.
The games are over.
The boozy lunches and after work dinner schmoozing of clients as you know it is over.
Get off the plane. Quick get off the plane!
To the nearest bunker, and we’ll be good. We’ll be found in 2121 clutching our large Costco rolls of prohibition-toilet-paper.
But listen, here’s why I’m weighing in; and we as a team are taking a moment to make sense of how this impacts even little ol’ us.
Uncomfortable as it is, this could be a reinvention of the way we do things. Maybe we look at this as an opportunity to grow? To learn how to work regardless of whether it’s in two dimension or three dimension?
Lindsay Bell, a writer on our team, calls what us folk inside the digital bubble have ‘the curse of knowledge’. Many people have worked virtually for decades! And sometimes it’s our privilege speaking when we shake our heads at the hysteria around working from home and ‘oh how will we cope, and the economy will implode’.
But today I ask, WHAT IF? What if social distancing is not a bad thing at all given the times, and all we need to do is translate our knowledge of how we do things offline TO THE ONLINE?
What if we stop scurrying around and lamenting about how nothing is as it should be?
What if we switch to proactive a bit, and open our eyes to the massive learning that can be had?
Here’s what I think will happen. 2 things.
- We as a working people will get super creative
We’ll rise to the challenge like champions once a few news cycles have passed and we’ve had our fill of not being able to avert our eyes. Companies will reach deep within and find a way to communicate with their stakeholders, whether their employees, their customers or the powers that be who will inevitably ask how the money is going to keep coming in if the people are not going out.
We’ll swap our sensationalism for matter-of-fact-ness.
And we’ll pull out all that unnecessary tech we’ve built and use it to live our lives.
- We will learn to trust one another a whole lot more
You know what? Emotional intelligence comes in the face of crisis. Now that people are having to work from home en-masse, companies will find that shit still gets done. They will see the efficiencies possible even if crisis is not at hand. Corporations already leaning into hotdesks will cut budgets on real estate soon so more people can work virtually.
Some of the sub par connectivity and productivity software out there will be forced to pick up their game because more people are asking for a higher quality.
Employees will push more for flexibility. And! Trust will increase. Intimacy and companionship are achievable in two dimensions.
We’ve done it for years.
People got this and will keep moving forward! And that will become the new normal.
Go with the flow, you.
Don’t make that employee who is uncomfortable do the thing they are uncomfortable doing.
Don’t assume your cancelled sales conference means no sales for the year. Nope, maybe that just means you need to learn to pick up your LinkedIn selling game.
Hop on that Zoom call and see if it works for you even if you’ve never used anything besides Webex. (Don’t make your agencies trek out to your potentially germ infested offices)
And get off the interwebs reading about the virus! Figure out how you and yours can keep calm and carry on. (yuck I never thought there’d be a time in my writing where I LEGIT use that!)
Ps: We’ve dug deep in many convos and I have 2 more takes on this. This will likely be the only time I email you 3 days in a row. As an educator, not a carpetbagger.
Pps: NOTHING in this piece is intended to make light of coronavirus or the fact that people are losing lives and livelihoods from it. It’s merely a call to keep life and business in perspective and do what feels right. Follow public health guidelines of course, but take the path of caution, and translate your need to connect elsewhere.