Here in Silicon Valley, we are two and a half weeks into a Shelter in Place order. We were hopeful, in the beginning, that we’d be “back to normal” in another few days. Alas, we now know that we’ll continue for at least another month. It’s potentially catastrophic for the marginalized among us.
But for people privileged enough to be able to work from home, it could turn into a good thing. Here’s why:
- The SIP order working to keep the number of cases relatively low in the Bay Area so far. Don’t believe me? Compare the number of cases here to Los Angeles, which was a week behind us in issuing a SIP order.
- Traffic is reasonable, even during rush hour. That’s great for two reasons:
- Many people are saving 2-3 hours of their lives every day by working from home, and
- The environment gets a chance to breathe a little easier with less pollution.
An Unprecedented Opportunity
We are faced with an unprecedented opportunity. We don’t have to be in a rush to get “back to normal.” “Normal” wasn’t necessarily healthy. Of course, some businesses require workers to be physically present to get the job done. But millions of workers have figured out that they can work from home. Many find that they’re more productive at home than they were in the office.
Some workers will undoubtedly want to return to the office. For example, those who live with roommates may find it more challenging to find a private space to work. Extroverts also prefer a less solitary environment.
But leaders should reconsider their work from home policies once this is over. Imagine if more reasonable traffic was the “new normal.” For those who prefer working from home, their quality of life is greatly enhanced without a grueling daily commute. There are many great tools that make virtual collaboration fun and easy.
We also have an opportunity to re-imagine how we do meetings. I have a couple of clients who complain that they’re stuck at their desks for eight hours straight in back to back meetings. But are all of those meetings really necessary? I doubt it.
Seth Godin wrote a short manifesto on March 18th that offers a comprehensive look at the future of online interactions. He suggests that if the purpose of the meeting is to transfer information, use a memo instead. And if the purpose is to transform something, Godin suggests, there’s a better way to do it. He suggests that, instead of meetings, we have conversations. I highly recommend reading the manifesto if you want better meetings.
Lastly, we have the opportunity to pause. Especially for those of us who are entrepreneurs or freelancers, it’s a golden opportunity. Instead of flipping right into fix-it mode (tempting as that is), pause. Reflect. Journal. Spend time in nature. How’s your work been going for you? If you don’t totally love it, you have an opportunity to pivot. You have the power to make whatever changes you need to make to be happier. Unless your pre-pandemic life was exactly the way you like it, don’t bother going back to “normal.”
Johanna is a professional speaker, available to speak on a variety of topics related to culture, communication, innovation, and leadership skills. She is the Board President for the Bay Area Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and is deeply versed in how to help businesses be a force for good in the world. Learn more (URL: https://www.nextgenorgs.com/about/). Contact Johanna at email@example.com