The COVID-19 virus has already begun to impact each of our lives. As businesspeople, we often focus on the monetary value of a shutdown or slowdown of business. We live in a global economy, where the workforce of today often traverses the world. We are more exposed to things from faraway lands than ever before in our history. Just a quick glance at a case map shows that this virus is racking up frequent flyer miles right alongside our colleagues. But we need to continue to show empathy.
I have some experience with similar health issues. My wife has a condition that compromises her immune system, so she is potentially at risk. I have also had a condition called C-diff which is a similar, hard to fight virus, and caused me to become quarantined for several weeks. My daughter’s school is moving to distance learning, impacting her senior year of college. Just like any illness, those that have had similar occurrences in the past and those with weakened immune capabilities are most at risk. College students are getting more time at home. In dormitories, the growing threat of spreading this disease to a tipping point is a significant concern for healthcare officials who need to slow the growth and keep hospitals functioning. This growing concern is why sports organizations, a bastion of relief from our daily lives, have taken action. Employers have significantly reduced travel and asked individuals with any symptoms to stay home.
I am suggesting that as business leaders, while you may be focusing on the harmful elements, we must reframe our thoughts and take an empathetic approach. We need to think globally about the people that could be impacted. Many of us have grandparents, parents, and relatives with existing conditions who will not just be at home for two weeks to recover but may pass away as a result. We need to think of our coworkers as a family and do everything within our power to limit the growth of known cases while letting this pandemic run its course. I recently read a story of a single lawyer in New York who, in the course of 7 days, had been tied to 50 infections surrounding him. Staying out of crowds and public situations is vital in these early days.
What can you do as a leader? You can be patient with your employees as schools, daycares, and workplaces close. The need to stay home with children will grow, and we need to utilize existing technology as best we can. Productivity will be negatively impacted. Embrace the unknown and support it so your workers do not have additional anxiety to deal with in this uncharted territory.
Begin to think about technologies and processes that can aid your workplace.
- Distance Collaboration Technologies: Utilize your video conferencing systems, video interview systems, FaceTime, Slack, and other messaging and collaboration tools, whatever you can facilitate to allow distance collaboration.
- Flexible Work Hours: As the need to care for family, people may need to work at night or early in the morning.
- Be Mindful: Stress that in this strange time, things will be changing rapidly. Just look at the NBA that went from identifying a single known case to shutting down the league indefinitely within several hours last Wednesday. The spread of COVID-19 will continue to be a substantial change exercise for business and concerning until we start to see a lessening of the growth.
As a provider of services that deal with changing lives positively, Lucas Group is focused on people. We are in a people business, and we are concerned for our military transition candidates who may be abroad at this time, job candidates who may be commuting and exposed, and our clients and colleagues facing both the personal and business impacts of this situation. We are just concerned about our fellow humans. As you become frustrated with this global slowing of business, remember to focus on your fellow humans empathetically. This too will pass.