Beyond the Crisis. With the uncertainty and gloom currently surrounding us, my team challenged me to find a positive and maybe even hopeful message to deliver to all of you. So, I accepted the challenge with this caveat: Nothing in this article is to make light of the COVID-19 virus, the lives affected by it, or the economic impact its presence may have now and perhaps for months to come.Shifting Focus. Honestly, I spent quite a while wondering what positive things I could come up with. This morning the weather was much like my outlook. It was a heavy mist, a dense fog, and everything seemed gloomy. Then, I got out of my car and was greeted by the chirps of birds. Is it just me or are birds optimists because they know that summer is soon to be seen?
And then it dawned on me. Just as the fog and rain clears for spring flowers and summer fun, I want to look past the here-and-now to the positive changes beyond the current situation.
Virtual Meetings. I saw a comic strip this week that said, “I guess that meeting could be an email.” Now while that observation might be a bit optimistic, it’s not entirely off-base if you switch out ‘email’ to video conferencing. We have had video technology personally and professionally for a long time now, to the extent that it is as prevalent in our personal space as it is in our professional one. Just looking at my boys, for example, and how they call their grandparents. It is almost always a Facetime call. And perhaps the more interesting part of the call is that my parents are completely comfortable handling calls this way. In fact, it’s great for them. They see the latest Lego project being put together or sometimes they review homework. So why is it we struggle at work to fully utilize this technology for meetings. It makes no sense. Especially given a recent estimation that Nex-Tech could potentially save $200,000 a year (at a bare minimum) by using video conferencing technology.
I guess the push back to virtual meetings is often due to a belief that they are not as meaningful as meeting in person. Is that correct or is it a matter of comfort level with the platform? For example, every week, Doug Kuntz, our Carrier Access Rep from Quinter, and I spend an hour discussing everything via video. It makes no sense for either of us to travel 45 minutes each way to connect. And now that we have been doing this so often it feels very natural. Interestingly enough, last week I was out and about, so Doug and I did our ‘catch-up’ in his Quinter office. In person. My takeaway was that while it was nice to see him (we don’t shake hands now), it didn’t feel any different or more productive than our video calls.
So I think about that experience, and how comfort levels increase over time with continued use of new technologies and approaches, and think now, with everyone being forced to move to video, perhaps we will all become more comfortable with it. Maybe video conferencing will become the new normal. We will save time and money, and we will still get all the benefits and experiences we used to get in face-to-face meetings.
Work from Anywhere has been a theme. Now, working from home has become the current go-to for social distancing. My team has been able to work virtually any time they like, whether it’s from a motel room, home, or the beach (Ok, unfortunately I cannot think of one time the beach came into play). And while moving applications to the cloud and having phones ring wherever you need them to has been around for ten years or more, now we are relying on these services to maintain productivity and provide better customer experiences and cost savings. So who is to say the post-virus office will revert to, well being in an office?
Technology as Community? Having grown up in the Midwest I have seen time after time how we pull together to accomplish something. From natural disasters to taking care of your neighbor, we’re in it together. Community matters. What is new today, is how technology has become a part of that!
So often we hear about the negative ramifications of technology in our lives, but in the current global climate, it is the thing that has allowed continued functionality and provided a way to save our livelihood. The social impact should not go unnoticed.
Technology is also serving to keep us connected during social isolation. We’re alone together via chats, online communities and virtual events. And an unexpected bonus to me is how our youth has stepped up. Not only in positive messaging via technology, but in caring about others. My oldest son Caden, a Junior in High School, works at a local grocery store. He recently shared with me an unprecedented situation at work. Recently, when the college closed down, a lot of the help for this store was suddenly gone. The store was woefully under-staffed. Instead of watching the business struggle, Caden and others his age stepped up. They covered shifts and helped managers find a way to keep the business running smoothly. Even though this generation has taken a lot of slack over what many think to be their poor work ethic, when this community needed them, they stepped up to the challenge and met it with open arms. I couldn’t be more proud.
So, as I said, let’s shift our focus to positivity. Don’t get stuck in all the negativity. Keep looking for ways to accomplish what you need to in the midst of this pandemic, like the birds do when greeting the spring with such optimism toward the arrival of summer.
We will make it through this. And my guess is that once summer comes along, the morning fog and overcast days will only be a memory.