Posted by Gina Mayhead - 27 March, 2020
I know, there are a lot of bad things happening right now, thanks to the unrelenting progress of the Corona virus.
However, believe it or not, there are some positives we can reflect on. Here are five that sprang to mind this morning as I looked out over my sunny garden.
1. Air quality and less environmental damage
It’s taken an angry Roman God called Corona to make us change our ways. It’s certainly not how we’d have chosen to go about it, but it shows us that behavioural change IS really possible, at scale.
With planes grounded and car journeys limited to strictly essential we are doing the planet (and our health ironically) a massive favour in terms of lower carbon emissions and massively reduced levels of nitrogen dioxide. The air quality improvements are particularly striking over Northern Italy and China where industrial heartlands have been brought to a standstill by the virus’ onslaught.
Let’s take heart then, that changes to how we shop, behave and travel may outlive this horrible virus and carry on giving us and the planet, something to be cheerful about.
2. Local communities working together
We are genuinely good in a crisis. Yes, there are isolated incidents of bad behaviour in the aisles of our supermarkets and selfish actions going on, but in general, communities, streets, groups of neighbours are working together to help the vulnerable and care for each other.
My street has a lot of elderly residents, many of whom don’t use what’s app or email. We’ve set up a group of local residents to offer and coordinate help, whether that’s doing food shopping for those who are self-isolating, driving people to hospital, or leafleting those who don’t use electronic communications, so they know that we’re here and happy to help them. From chatting to friends and colleagues, this pattern is being repeated across the country.
Maybe, just maybe, this short-term change can reignite that local, community spirit we struggle to keep alive in more normal times where we rush to work, come home and close the door. Could social distance actually be bringing us closer?
3. Quality family time
Yes, I know the whole home schooling thing can be a bit of a ball-ache. Trust me, I know! I only have one daughter, but with my other half designated as a key worker and still going to his place of work each day, I am trying to do my usual full-time job and supervise her education.
But, it’s an amazing experience! We’re doing all those things we never have time for normally: crazy science experiments, innovative multi-sport circuits in the garden, sharing a book or film together. With no commuting and no organised activities to shuttle between, suddenly it’s a chance to look up, assess your priorities, and see the world around you with fresh eyes.
Let’s keep that innovative, unscripted time and vision as we move forwards. We’re going to need it…
4. Flexible working
I don’t know about you, but working from home is a game changer, and in a good way for me. I don’t want to do it every day, or forever, but please promise me that you will continue to do it from time to time even when it’s safe to go outside again and return to our bricks and mortar offices.
I’m comfortable, focused, more relaxed. I can feel different synapses in my brain firing as I sip my own coffee machine’s coffee at a time that suits me.If you run your business or work in HR, please consider a flexible working request seriously and recognise it as the productivity boost it is. The option to work flexibly so they can get other life stuff done is one of the key benefits employees look for.
We’re showing how well it works, with bells on, just now, and technology like Zoom and Skype are coming into their own. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be first in the queue to get that office vibe going again, and can’t wait to attend my first industry event post-corona (what a party that’s going to be!) but let’s not forget what we’re learning here.
And, back to my first point, a bit more flexible working will surely help the environment too. Virtual is the new reality. How many face to face meetings round the country/world do you REALLY need to do?
5. Teamwork makes the dreamwork
An old cliché, but true nonetheless, and never more so than as we work together now to get through one of the worst business crises we’ve ever experienced.
My own team are doing a fantastic job at this. We have our morning Zoom catch-up featuring pets, children, bad hair days; and we’re genuinely talking more, and more effectively, than we do on a normal day in the office. Combining that with our Microsoft Teams channels – great for divvying up the day’s tasks and for some more virtual banter – I’d say our morale and team spirit is higher than ever.
The team leaders and managers are keeping everyone talking, giving them the support they need whilst still getting the job done. Throw in a few quizzes, communal tea breaks and Wear a Silly Hat conference calls for good measure.
Working from home can be a lonely environment. You owe it to your staff’s mental well-being and their productivity levels to strengthen those teams now more than ever. I fervently hope that this sense of ‘all being in it together’ continues long after our return to base, whenever that might be. (Plus the shared what’s app jokes and videos – loving them all!)
Let us know if there is anything I can do for you, or if we can support each other in some way. Just email me anytime at email@example.com
I'd love to hear what you are doing, and the challenges you are facing.