We started the new year in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where there have been more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries reported as of last week by the World Health Organization. As the cases climb, borders are closing, flights canceled, and government mandates for social distancing in one state after another. Closings are also happening across schools, restaurants/bars, malls, and many other public places. CNN reported various states had issued a “stay at home order”, including Connecticut where I reside. Social distancing is creating a temporary new way of life as people are left to adjust their routines and habits during these difficult times.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, which can be the feeling you get by continually watching the news. There are a few good things that are arising out of a situation overshadowed by fear, concern, and the unknown. I have been working from home to stay with my school-age kids for our first week of social distancing and I’m encouraged. During this time, I have been impressed and, in some cases, entertained by family, friends, and co-workers. I want to share five positive things that I’ve observed during this time of social distancing:
- We always find a way. Despite the hardship, whether we work in an office or at home, with or without kids, we find a way to make it work. Just as strong teams in business come together to find a way to succeed, the same goes for our personal lives as we rise to the occasion during tough times. We are finding alternative ways to work, educate our kids, and socialize with friends and family. In the words of my eight-year-old son when recently complained about his sister, “Ok, when you are done [with your conference call], can you come and deal with it?”. When things get tough, we deal with it.
- Technology is keeping us connected. Social distancing is intended to keep us apart from each other. Still, we are finding that technology is helping to maintain that connection. It’s the very technology that we have been striving to disconnect from over the years is now bringing us closer together in these challenging times. Businesses are utilizing video conferencing, schools are implementing online educational systems, and colleagues are scheduling virtual hangouts. All to keep us learning, productive, and connected. Technology is not quite where it needs to be, but it is evolving and improving every day.
- Community comes together during times of need. Although the paper goods aisle in grocery stores are empty, I heard of chat groups where information is shared about where to find necessary supplies. Grocery stores are also setting up dedicated hours for people at high-risk to shop worry-free. I’m still wondering who is buying all of the chicken in the grocery stores and why! Email exchanges and social media posts are sharing activities to keep kids learning and engaged. One educational example for kids is Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems – came recommended by multiple colleagues, so he must be good!
- Maintaining a routine is essential. A colleague shared a Thrive Global article on LinkedIn, which talks about the importance of having a morning routine when working from home. It provided tips such as getting ready as if you were going to the office. The American Marketing Association also posted an article with a few more compelling tips by marketing leaders- 15 Minutes of Your Time — WFH Edition. Walks outside in the neighborhood (keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet of course) and home-based workouts are also good options to help stay healthy. Whether its home workouts while your gym is closed indefinitely or making yourself presentable for video conference calls, having a routine helps.
- Family is the priority. In many countries, governments and businesses are making provisions for people to take care of their families. These provisions span from maintaining pay to take care of loved ones, or kids who are out of school, to flexibility to work from home when feasible. Recognizing that this is not a universal practice, it is a start. Hopefully, the provisions will expand for those who are not providing critical services or who, unfortunately, have lost their jobs. It’s a reminder that we are human first, and maintaining our home life is as important as our work life. Take this opportunity to carve out time and be present while you are home. Last, let’s not forget the health care professionals and others who are prioritizing public safety by being on the front lines helping people through this crisis.
Social distancing does not mean that life comes to a halt. Many things will arise from this situation as we take care of our families, friends, co-workers, and ourselves. Focusing on the long-term will help us get through this time as we strive to protect those vulnerable to COVID-19, maintain the health and well-being of our families, and manage the social and economic pressures. I will leave you with a quote from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, “…It’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.”
I believe that this is a time that will challenge us, define us, and change us for the better. What do you think will change? Take a moment and comment below.
About Richard Conner
Richard Conner is a global-minded strategic marketing professional with 15 years of experience in B2B marketing for organizations, both domestic and international markets. He is currently a global marketing director, leading a team responsible for product commercialization, product life cycle management, and commercial initiatives. He is a Connecticut native and enjoys learning about AI technology, international travel, and obstacle course racing. You can follow Richard on Twitter and Linkedin.