Coronavirus talk has dominated the conversation lately, which is completely understandable considering how much it has changed everyone’s lives so quickly. But, there’s a conundrum for those working at home that we also need to talk about:
Where is the line between acknowledging the strangeness and moving past it to get on with our work?
There are many articles circulating that talk about how we shouldn’t expect anyone to be able to carry on as normal right now, and that’s a fair point, but we also need to find balance so that we can occupy our minds and not give in to panic or despair. However, this isn’t just about “keeping busy”; it’s about keeping the world moving.
“We don’t know where we are on the COVID-19 curve of confusion and destruction, but how we look back on Spring 2020 depends heavily on how global business responds to the challenge.” – Peter Buytaert, executive search MP at Cornerstone International and co-founder of GLO (Good Leaders Online)
But how should we respond when this global pandemic is all anyone can think about? Our CEO has been a particular inspiration to all of us at CatalystOne by emphasising this simple fact:
“Those businesses, like ours, that can operate well under remote working conditions have a responsibility to keep the world’s economic wheels turning.” – Avtar Jasser, CEO CatalystOne
This is a mantra that remote workers can and should get behind. While it might seem difficult to go on about your work as if everything is normal, when you think of it as a responsibility that will help the global economy through the inevitable tough times ahead, it can really give a renewed sense of purpose.
There are some businesses, particularly in the service industry, that simply can’t function under stay-at-home orders. They are relying on the rest of us to keep things moving. If businesses that can lean in to this challenge commit to doing so, the better off everyone will be in the longer term.
Kolonial pivots to feed Norway
A great example of this is how online grocery retailer Kolonial.no pivoted literally overnight to bring customers a new pre-packed food box option.
“[We’re doing] everything [we can] to get things done faster while we work hard to improve the capacity of our core product. We don’t know if this [new offering] will be permanent, but that’s not so important. The most important thing is that we do everything we can to contribute.” – Espen Sundve, Chief Product Officer at Kolonial.no
There’s no need to feel guilty for continuing to create things, sell things, or transport things under these conditions. Neither should you feel that whatever you do is trivial in comparison to those who are actively and literally fighting the virus. Those people are vital now, but we all have our roles to play.
Within the Norwegian IT industry, independent industry organisation IKT-Norge has sent a letter to Norwegian Industry Minister Iselin Nybø requesting support to ensure that the Norwegian public sector does not abandon its IT projects at this time. The letter was cosigned by 14 Norwegian IT companies including Atea, Bekk, Bouvet, CapGemini Norge, CGI, Global Connect, IBM, Itera, North Alliance / Making Waves, Oracle, Sopra Steria, TietoEvry, Visolit og Webstep.
So, you’re not being insensitive or burying your head in the sand by continuing on with your work. You’re putting yourself and your business on the front lines of the coming economic battle—one that will also have far-reaching consequences.
Supporting your team
If you’re managing a remote team, it’s up to you to rally your people with the message that they are needed and that the work they do at home is supporting every industry. Make sure you acknowledge the additional strain everyone is under, offer support in whatever ways you can, and try to foster a sense of camaraderie.
In our business, we are in regular contact with our customers’ HR and IT people. We know first-hand that two of the biggest challenges that businesses switching to remote work are facing are managing their people, and providing IT equipment, software and support for those people. We know exactly how hard they are working right now, and we salute them for it.
We could be heroes
Everyone who is able to get things done in these strange times is a hero, and we should acknowledge it on a regular basis. No one can call for business-as-usual at the moment, but we can all do our best to make business-as-not-so-usual work.
When the war with COVID-19 is over, we need industries to be ready to get back to work quickly; this can only happen if those of us who can keep moving in the meantime, do.
We look forward to seeing all our digital contemporaries on the field, fighting the good fight, keeping the wheels—and the economic world—turning.