What is that light at the end of this tunnel?

Guest Post Written By John Chisholm

Social distancing was a phrase that we had never even heard of at the beginning of 2020.  With more time to think about it, they may have named it something like “physical distancing” or “expanding your personal space”.  When I was young and my mother would use the term, they, I would ask, “who is they” and she would reply, “Harold, Thaddeus, Elias and Youngblood”.  Apparently, they were a group of amazing sages and scholars.

By definition, the term social has a couple of definitions as it relates to distancing. The first, “relating to society and its organization” and the second, “needing companionship and therefore best suited for living in communities”.

Now by the strictest interpretation of the concept of social distancing we would be disconnecting from society and its organization, and possibly pulling away from companionship.  On the contrary, what we are seeing is that people are seeking every opportunity and method to stay connected and build companionship, while practicing “physical distancing”.

Just an observation.

Now let’s move on to more meaningful discussion.  As I sit in my office and consider what has been happening around me, I have a few observations:

  • People are outside enjoying the outdoors, finding stress relief in the outdoors
  • Families are spending meaningful time together, taking walks and playing in the yard
  • Parents are involved in their children’s education
  • People are eating more meals at home
  • Less traffic, which means:
    • Less pollution
    • Lower fuel consumption
    • Fewer traffic accidents – I spoke to an adjuster with Progressive Insurance about getting some repairs done to my car.  She said that her workload has dropped significantly.  The insurance companies are making a killing right now, but eventually that would lead to lower rates
    • People are driving slower, lowering stress and accident counts
  • Many people are realizing that they can effectively do their job from home and I suspect that even some of the managers and leaders who have opposed, or resisted telecommuting are finding that there is value to this concept for the employee, the employer and for the environment.
    • The amount of power we are consuming is significantly decreased.
    • Fewer automobiles on the road.
  • Everybody can now use Zoom or a similar virtual meeting platform.

You are certainly making your own observations of what is happening as a result of the COVID 19 virus.  What do you see changing ?

Question:  Is this pandemic going to be a reset for society or will we ignore the lessons we learn and get right back to “normal” after a few months? 

Maybe both.

It is not likely that this pandemic will produce a radical shift in how our society operates.  Things need to return to a normal state of operation in order to get people back to work and get the economy recharged.

On the other hand, what can we take away from this experience? 

Three areas on the personal side to consider:

Food – you probably had one of two reactions to social distancing when it comes to food.  First, we might have reacted by going into an eating frenzy, eating everything in sight.  Hey this is a situation we have never been in before and my activities have been limited, so I am just going to eat my way out of this. Another reaction would be to say to yourself, “I am going to take this disruption in my life to rethink the way I eat.”  While being cooped up at home, we can refine our cooking skills and develop an appreciation for the calm and connection that cooking brings.

Family – It may have occurred to you to connect or reconnect with some of your family members during this time, out of concern or need.  Could this be a little reminder of what is most important in your life? From another perspective, some of you are feeling more stretched and busier than before the pandemic impact.  Is it not the same question for you?

Finances – I don’t know about you, but we are spending a lot less money during this lockdown.  Now, I am not advocating that we stop eating out or buying new clothes, after this has passed, but there are areas in our budgets that might be reconsidered in light of how we have been spending over the last 6 weeks.

From a business perspective, I think we could see a new outlook on telecommuting.  What would be the positive impacts of allowing 20% of your workforce to work from home one day per week? 

Here are a few thoughts:

  • A reduced amount of office space needed to accommodate your staff
  • A reduced amount of energy consumption due to the reduced office space
  • Fewer cars on the road, less pollution, fewer accidents, less wear and tear on your vehicles, etc.
  • More worker satisfaction?

What are some of your thoughts on this matter?

In closing, let us consider how we can glean some positive improvements to our lives and careers from this social distancing experience.

Written by: John Chisholm

John Chisholm, with  Chisholm Executive Coaching, is an executive coach based in Denver with 30+ years experience working in corporate America, he loves Colorado and the outdoors, and especially enjoys mentoring professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs.