We are all aware that life, as we’ve known it, has been disrupted for the foreseeable future. There is a whole range of circumstances and emotions that accompany this new reality, but what we want to talk about is where we go from here. What can we do now?
First we’ll start by saying that we all know nothing can completely replace the kind of synergy that happens when you meet with someone face-to-face. We’re already dreaming about the days when it’ll be deemed safe again to venture out and about. So many local businesses to support in person! So many friends to hug!
In the meantime, while social interaction is greatly limited, we sure are thankful for the ways the internet has kept us connected and together as a society. Video chatting — once a tool that helped me stay connected to my family spread across the country — is now a lifeline that helps me stay connected with friends across town. Online ordering and delivery — a former luxury — has now become somewhat of a pillar to the social distanced lives we are currently living.
Technology has filled in quite a few gaps during this pandemic, communication and ecommerce being the two most obvious ones. For better or worse, digital work is work that we are still able to continue, even as we physically stay away from offices and each other. While many of us are secluded and working from home, the internet is the most common place we’re able to reach out to one another, congregate, and continue on with our lives with some semblance of normalcy (even though it’s not normal, or ideal). Therefore, from a purely logistical standpoint, digital initiatives can continue, or begin, because that’s the work we are able to focus on and execute at this moment.
In many cases, we quite literally have to work remotely as state and local mandates urge us to stay in place. The threat that COVID-19 poses to businesses, the job market, and the economy is real. This is a huge disruption. We have to be adaptable and innovative. Despite the ways many businesses have quickly adjusted, we’re already seeing the effects on the economy — both locally and globally. We should do whatever we can, individually or organizationally, to keep things moving — whether that means patronizing local businesses online, setting up your business for ecommerce, or connecting with your audience meaningfully online. It’s been a bit jarring to wake up in this new world, but as we slowly come to grips with it, we need to try to carry on however we can.
All that said, just because we can and we have to doesn’t mean continuing or transitioning our work to online is easy. There’s a comment floating around the internet that “you are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” We’d be remiss to not acknowledge this important distinction. Continuing to move forward does not come without challenges.
Any great trial has the potential to weaken us or make us stronger. Already, it’s been encouraging to see people exercising strength in the midst of this trial. Some organizations and businesses have made quick and creative adjustments — local restaurants and retailers have started offering online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery options to their communities (find ones in your area doing this and support them, if you’re able!), places of worship have started live streaming services and providing online resources to support people at this time, and of course scientists and medical researchers have been utilizing technology to communicate and collaborate more quickly than ever before.
How else might we be able to harness the power of technology to improve our lives and livelihoods in this moment? How are we in the tech industry uniquely positioned with our skillset to help communities come out of this time stronger? And what else can we do, as businesses and organizations big and small, to enact positive changes that are swift and maybe even lasting?
For even though this disruption is temporary, its effects will be long-term. It’s hard to imagine that we won’t come out of this changed in one way or another. Already, we mourn our losses and brace ourselves for what is coming. This is hard, it will continue to be hard. We do not take the gravity of this situation lightly.
So, let’s do whatever we can to support one another, in business and in life. Let’s look back at this time as one when we showed great capacity to endure together. Let’s become stronger through our collective resilience and innovation.