As we adhere to social distancing, or what it really is, “physical distancing”, I am thinking of ways to not only bring our teams together again, but to do so in a way that embraces the lessons we are learning. Through every hardship, failure, challenge or success, we have the opportunity to learn. The lessons may be difficult, even painful, but we can come out ahead if we’re willing to lean in and make the effort.
We humans are social by nature. Yes, even us introverts. When we have guidelines in place that force us to stay apart for extended periods, the affects can be quite devastating. From boredom and loneliness to anxiety and depression, if not you, people around you may be suffering, in silence.
Recently, AT&T and Verizon reported an all-time high for voice calls in a single day – To think, Mother’s Day is no longer the record holder – but I bet Mom still is – This is great! People are using their phones to talk to each other again. By talking, we can convey tone and emotion, share a real laugh rather than an “lol” and truly connect to one another. As a leader, I find a quick phone call can eliminate a mile-long email thread, with far better results. One of the silver linings I’m seeing, silos are dropping in our business, and more is getting accomplished as we take the opportunity to talk with each other more. I encourage you to keep dialing that phone and talking with your colleagues, family and friends. It could be a mood-booster for both of you.
Recreating a sense of togetherness takes a bit of ingenuity and well, teamwork. Virtual conference calls with the camera on, is a step in the right direction. Workplace by Facebook provides a Virtual Break Room and is a more informal and personal way to connect with your team. Posting in there allows us to connect across the organization and see each other’s work from home including pets, plants, families, and how we are staying strong in these challenging times. It is allowing us to get to know each other in a way that we probably would not have if we were still physically in the office every day. I am proud of my team for staying connected and literally letting each other into their homes and sharing more of their work world with their families. Empower with the tools and lead by example. Speaking of Mom, I miss her and can’t visit – so I purchased an Amazon Show and virtually dropped into her living room the other day via our Amazon Alexa devices. It was amazing, the entire family on screen, on couches, in chairs – kids, parents and grandparents — It was like being there, we were together, and most important, it made mom smile.
What if we transform our mindset? What if instead of bearing this burden of hardship and anxiety, we frame this as the ultimate reset? Let’s make the time to reflect on what we as leaders are doing for our organizations and the decisions we are making to keep our communities safe. With leadership comes tough choices. I often think about the small businesses that made the brave, but difficult, decision to close temporarily to protect their employees and community. That takes considerable strength as a leader to put your own needs and wants aside for the greater good and I have a great respect for them. To support those who are struggling, I encourage you to shop and order takeout from local establishments whenever possible.
In my post, Leading the New Normal, I talk about harnessing this big change into positive outcomes. This pandemic is shaping our society and the future of how our world will look. For the first time in ever, we have been made to slow down. I am taking the time to enjoy my coffee in the morning. I am connecting with old friends and family I haven’t talked to in a while and posting in Virtual Break Room to keep my team encouraged and stay in touch with them. It feels good to make those connections and if you have not tried those things, I highly recommend that you do.
People also seem friendlier. I am noticing on my daily walks with my buddy (dog) Omelette, children are playing outside instead of inside on their Nintendo Switch. Parents and their kids are coloring encouraging memos and images on the neighborhood sidewalks to make others smile. They are transforming their mindsets and making the most out of the times while spreading positivity.
Take each day to create a new opportunity to grow, to laugh, to connect, or to take a step back and reflect on what you can do to help your community move in a positive, new direction.
The ability to press onward during challenging times with determination defines a person and a business. Educators are teaching, and students are learning online. Some people are also turning their homes into creative spaces for entertainment with videos on social media. We’re working remotely and appreciate technology and the abilities it creates. Our IT team at Navigate360 makes working from home easier by holding remote work training sessions, being available to answer questions and spinning up more cloud-based programs enabling teams to work collaboratively. Forty or fifty years ago? Operating from our homes during a pandemic would have looked much different. It’s difficult to imagine the how education and workplaces would have moved forward at all. Having the tenacity to succeed together and overcome this tremendous obstacle is making us a better team and a stronger organization. If we look for the lessons and apply our collective wisdom and energy, it is quite possible we will emerge a wiser, stronger and, oddly enough, more connected society.
Of course, there are many gut-wrenching outcomes from this pandemic, and it can be difficult to think about thriving while many are focused on surviving. Yet it is exactly that reason we need to press onward and create a new normal where others can thrive. The ingenuity and caring coming from this situation give me hope. If we can embrace the lessons, especially the difficult ones, and apply our new thinking we may be able to create new ways for communities to thrive. So for now, respect social distancing recommendations, wash your hands, and good luck with your kid’s homework- it’s so different now!
Wishing you all the best. Stay connected. Stay productive. Be kind.