Practicing Social Isolation and Social Solidarity

March 2020

Photograph: Getty Images

Emergency plans are in full swing as our nation and those around the globe mobilize to fight the spread of COVID-19. It’s encouraging to see our country’s mayors and governors, coupled with our brilliant scientific community, leading the charge in facing this public health crisis. On the business front, many leaders are calling for the federal government to alleviate the pain small businesses and their employees are facing. 

Thrust to the forefront is the importance of expertise and our ability to trust it. Together, we are all playing a critical role by following the CDC’s guidelines to help deter the spread of the virus. And, we may need to possibly prepare for a national mandate to stay-in-place for weeks to come, so that U.S. medical facilities are not overwhelmed to treat the sickest among us. 

Our daily broader concerns about life and work have been narrowed to basic preparedness needs. In addition to taking the CDC’s recommended actions, we can help one another by staying connected and sharing reputable information. If you are willing and able, you can share resources with your community by purchasing only what you need.

I realize many of you have been thrust into working from home, with the added burden of homeschooling children suddenly out of school for the next month. Our team at Twirling Tiger Media has been a group of remote workers for many years. We have been successfully keeping everyone on our team and our clients connected, have built a rapport with one another, and meet project goals. Here’s a few helpful tips from a blog post I wrote on the topic, “How Remote Teams Can Stay Productive and Creative”:

 Voice and video conferencing:

  • Call or video-conference with team members weekly.
  • Validate others by listening without interrupting or sharing your own story.
  • Schedule a reasonable start and finish time using calendar invitations and stick to it.
  • Ask short, open questions.
  • Be sure your applications are easy to install and set up.
  • Don’t wait for a call or video conference with your client to test an application’s reliability.
  • Use “share my document” and “share my screen” features to create greater engagement.

Project management software:

  • Onboard team members with your project management software of choice.
  • Look for project management software that offers technical support and training resources. You may pay a little more for support services, but how much is your time to troubleshoot and train worth?
  • Publish project expectations, assign tasks, and set milestones and deadlines.
  • Create a file-sharing system, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket … corporate documents should be kept separate from project management software.
  • Have multiple automated backup systems in place as part of your data recovery plan.

Emails and texts:

  • Use effective written communication practices.
  • Get your point across clearly and simply.
  • Show empathy and understanding in your email or instant messaging.
  • Be efficient to avoid wasting time—there’s no need to flood everyone’s inboxes with back-and-forth emails when you can summarize the gist of a communication to managers or team members.
  • Use emojis or emoticons sparingly. 
  • You may be missing context in a seemingly curt communication, so first assume there’s a reason for an out-of-character tone and that it’s not intended to be a personal slight.
  • Be openly honest with team members when you need time away from all communications. (We use the term “going dark.”)

Security

Finally, there are security risks to your enterprise when employees are using their own home equipment in order to work remotely. Hopefully your company has established a cybersecurity policy to avoid mishaps. This is not a time to let good security practices lapse. In a recent DARKReading article, Mark Loveless, senior security engineer with GitLab, said, “At home there is a tendency to let one’s guard down as people feel safer in their own homes, so any bad computer security habits from home might translate into insecure actions with work tasks. The biggest challenge is to remind and positively reinforce those good security habits while at home.”  

I generally subscribe to the credo “hope is not a plan,” but in the case of this devastating virus sweeping the globe, I will leave all the planning to the experts and hope (and pray) for the very best outcome to this crisis.

Best,

—Maureen