Finding More from COVID-19

The steady drumbeat of COVID-19 news is reaching ever-greater levels – so loud that it seems to be deafening out almost anything else.

It would be hard for it not to. Here in the Bay Area we have the highest concentration of identified cases in California (and the third highest in the country). Gatherings of over 250 people have been banned. In-person classes at many local universities have been cancelled. Most of us parents are just waiting for school closures. My family has made the decision to avoid most public places (and you should hear how good my kids have gotten at the ABCs as they wash their hands). In many ways, these are scary times.

But they are also times of opportunity, and I am trying to appreciate some of the unexpected good things that have resulted from these times. I thought I’d share them, as they might help you, too.

Here are some of the things I have gotten more of since the outbreak of COVID-19:

  1. Time with my family. You should have seen the pure joy and hugs my children gave my husband when he told them he’d be working from home for at least the next two weeks. And when I told them I wouldn’t be traveling for the foreseeable future? It was the most excited screaming I’ve heard in months. Social distancing is bringing us closer together.
  2. Thinking space. The spring is conference season, which means I tend to be on the road a lot. That isn’t going to be the case this year. It’s giving me some time to do deep thought work on some new and important research we’re doing on gender and performance management, how to create a responsive organization, using people analytics to create organizations of the future, and the talent experience at purpose-driven organizations.
  3. Genuine connection. This might seem counterintuitive. But since everyone is going through this pandemic together, more of my calls start out with conversations about how people are doing, how their families are holding up, and how they are managing through the difficulties. I think we collectively need more of this, and less “business as usual.” At RedThread, we already have a culture of video calls, but this need for connection has only reinforced that tendency.
  4. Time to breathe. Since I am not on the road, I’m actively taking that time that was booked on my calendar for “travel to airport” or “flight time” and going for walks or working out. So some of that breathing is heavy breathing, but all of it is making me more healthy.
  5. Reflection. Most specifically, I’ve been asking myself, do I need to be on as many planes as I have been for the last few years? What are the tradeoffs I’ve been making in terms of my health, the environmental impact, and my family? And are they worth it? My eyes were really opened by Hacking HR’s Global Online HR Innovation and Future of Work conference last week, and specifically the power of technology like hopin. There is so much more we can do virtually if we are open to it.

For many of us, COVID-19 also provides an opportunity to show steady leadership in a time of instability. It is through strong leadership that we can help our teams, organizations, communities, and families manage effectively. We continue to see (and will continue to add here) resources that we think might be particularly useful to leaders during this time:

Finally, there are obviously a lot of articles out there on COVID-19 and your most reliable data source is the CDC and your state or county department of health. However, we have also done a lot of reading on this topic, and were especially struck by the high-quality data analysis and insights in these two articles:

We hope our reflections are of some use to you as you try your best to navigate these challenging times.

One final thing — while you are looking after your physical health, don’t forget your mental health. It’s quite possible we are in for a marathon, not a sprint, with this one. Good luck and now go wash your hands. 😊

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