Have you noticed? At a time when many schools and restaurants are closed and every social event for the foreseeable future has been put on hold, there’s one thing that refuses to be canceled – human connection.
In fact, connection is so important to getting through a global challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic that the World Health Organization is consciously promoting the idea of “physical distancing” as opposed to “social distancing.” Distant relatives are making more of an effort to video chat. Co-workers who may have rarely seen each other outside of the office are organizing video happy hours to unwind at the end of the week. Families are reminded of what it means to eat homecooked meals together. Even in hospitals, where the toughest battles against COVID-19 are being fought, we see stories of hope, positivity, and gratitude. In this new normal, human connection matters more than ever.
I travel quite a bit in my role as Workhuman’s CHRO, and make it a priority to spend time in both our Framingham, Mass., and Dublin offices to meet with my team. Those in-person interactions are invaluable. And yet, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were in the same position as me, either traveling most of the time or working partially or fully remote. Now, we’re all in the same situation – relying on technology to keep us connected and on the same page.
What happens to all those human moments that are typically anchored in the office setting? The birthday card that gets passed around for everyone to sign. The envelope where everyone pitches in for a baby shower gift. The hallway update from a colleague on a project you’re working on together. The impromptu chat about the puppy your colleague is thinking about adopting
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled, “Coronavirus’s Quiet Heartbreak: Milestone Moments, Now Canceled.” Ellen Byron writes, “Many long-anticipated milestones will now never happen – or will pass by unobserved – as celebrations and events get canceled. Beneath the world-wide upheaval of lockdowns, quarantines and shortages, thousands of people are also privately mourning the loss of life’s special moments.”
Life and work won’t stop just because we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, in the two weeks since we’ve been working fully remote, five of my colleagues at Workhuman have had babies. Two colleagues have moved into new homes. Another four have adopted puppies. Many of our children have had birthdays. I’ve used Life Events®, part of our Workhuman® Cloud solution, to crowdsource these moments of celebration and illuminate all the good that’s happening in our lives. It reminds us of our shared humanity. It makes sure these moments don’t pass by unobserved.
And even though I’m unable to meet with my direct reports in person for the foreseeable future, work hasn’t stopped. We’ve been meeting on Zoom – saying “hello” to each other’s children and pets in the background. And managers are using our Conversations® experience to make sure they connect 1:1 with their direct reports on a regular basis to not only check in on projects, but also to provide much needed support.
We’ve always been superusers of our platform. And in the new normal of a 100% virtual office, we’re experiencing the benefits of a hyperconnected culture. It’s helping us focus on the positive and rise to the challenge of these unprecedented times.
That’s why we’re offering special editions of Life Events and Conversations for free until March 2021 to companies looking to build and strengthen connections among their teams. You can learn more about this offer here.
I believe the human spirit is resilient. Humanity will push through and we will come out of this more humble, a bit wiser, and ever grateful. These are trying times, but they are also an opportunity to share our common humanity by recognizing the good in each other. We want to help lift people up and for other organizations to experience the incredible power of gratitude. Now is the time to connect in new ways for the betterment of all organizations and our entire society.
About the AuthorMore Content by Steve Pemberton