Finding Optimism in the impacts of COVID-19.

Yes, I said it. I am optimistic and excited for where Covid is pushing us.

Now I need to be clear; this virus is heinous. And some of its impacts have been nothing short of catastrophic. But I want to manage my focus. I want to give the positives their due.

If you are looking for the positive perspective, here are a few things to think about.

One of the huge consequences of the virus has been employees, and business owners as well, working remotely. This, while forced upon us, has paid great dividends to both individuals and businesses alike.

Companies have realized workers can not only do much of their work remotely but are often more productive in a remote setting than in the office. To gain some data-based understanding of this, check out this article.

Increase in “human” aspect of relationships. We are acting differently and treating each other differently. Just yesterday when talking with a vendor I heard some odd noises in the background. He said, “sorry about that, I have to dog sit today so you may hear them every now and then.” I wasn’t put off by this in the least. In fact, I found it immediately gave me a new picture of him in my head. Instead of a cubicle-dweller trying to sell and upsell me I began thinking of him more as a fellow worker. Less stiff business personas and office politics have humanized our views of each other.

There also has of necessity been a shift in management styles. Managers in an office setting tend to focus on oversight, watching work behaviors like how often workers take breaks, how long they are at lunch, etc… And meetings, MEETINGS! A carefully planned agenda with topics for the group to discuss and update that is either not followed or that is read word for word. Often, meeting for the sake of meeting.

Conversely, managers of remote workers tend to monitor based more on productivity than actions. And leadership, guidance and even corrective measures are more personal in nature, more attentive to the employee than the group or team. Most often, this leads to more engaged employees who feel more valued and a deeper connection to the company.

Read these excerpted comments from Allison Dew, Chief Marketing Officer at Dell, from her Keynote address at Dell Technologies/World 2020.

“When we started communicating with our team base from the comfort, or often times discomfort, of our own homes, what we actually saw is a greater connection to our employees. This was a surprising to us a leadership team. If you had asked me in January was internal communications the most important part of my job I would have said, “No, not really… over the last six months, when we have let down the fences and started engaging more directly with our employee base, we get a more human response.”

And there have been many socio-environmental impacts as well.

Pollution: we have had a significant reduction in air pollutants since the beginning of the lockdown/ shutter-in-place orders. Positive health impacts have been immediate for heart attacks, strokes, and ER visits, all of which increase during spikes in pollution levels. Check out this data-driven article from National Geographic about the impacts of and on pollution.

There has been an acceleration in the digital transformation of business and society.

Communications infrastructures have significantly improved. Verizon’s rollout of 5G (allowing for speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G) has been significantly accelerated. There were in January of 2020. They are on track to have 5G deployed in more than 85 cities by the end of the year: allowing improvement at the Edge.

This is significant because of the increased proliferation of users NOT working in or near their datacenters. Mobile computing is no longer a luxury, exclusively for technophiles, it is the new norm when it comes to doing business. The improvements of 5G are significant in both the speed and security of our data.

Solidified Global perspective awareness. If you have been watching and listening at all to the noise surrounding the pandemic, you have undoubtedly become more and more aware this is a global event and we are all in it together. A significantly positive by-product of this is an awareness of other cultures and how the many countries around the globe have banded together to learn about and overcome COVID-19.

Sure, the politics of who started it, how the WHO has acted, and how each individual country has reacted can be divisive on the surface. But it is the shared experiences we are all having that have subconsciously brought us together, in understanding if nothing else.

Yes, the virus has brought about a major shift in our lives and our lifestyles. Some of them have been simply fantastic and inspirational.

I wonder if you can think of positives I have not mentioned. Please comment and add your thoughts. I’m excited to hear them.

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