We can’t afford to think “when this is over.” We have a job to do and a chance to step up and really shine. 

By Bill Zolis

Five weeks in, working from home. I didn’t think it was a new thing for me, but I’m surprised and a little pleased to discover how much I’m learning about this new reality, now that it’s the only game in town.

Yes, I often worked from home, or worked off-site in the past, but it’s really not the same thing at all. In the past, the mindset was very much “complete the following list of tasks off-site” but take care of business “when I’m back in the office.”

Now I don’t know when I’ll be back in the office.

I find myself sitting back to look at the big picture. And that’s not just a cliché. I’m asking, What is the big picture? Am I sure that I’m seeing it? So much of what we did before the world turned upside down just seemed to take care of itself as a natural product of the context we shared – the physical office, the proximity to co-workers, the daily routine, the procedures, the lines of communication.

But how do you maintain the feeling of shared experience with your co-workers when everyone is working off-site? How do you communicate a positive attitude, or trust, or an air of confidence from leadership? How do you hold onto a sense of group and mission?

The job is bigger than the sum of the tasks we routinely perform – it’s how those tasks fit together and line up with what everyone else is doing that somehow add up to that “big picture” I’m trying to see.

And let’s not forget that our clients are facing the same issues. Sure, we have to adjust to our new context, but we have to keep in mind that we also have to adapt and respond to the new context our clients find themselves in.

So what are the big picture things – beyond the daily tasks – that we should be keeping our eyes firmly focused on?

– Accept that this is the way it is – and very likely the way it’s going to be. It’s tempting – again, mindset – to think or assume that what we are doing right now is coping with a crisis, or holding on until it’s over, but we really should be thinking in terms of moving forward. I don’t think we can afford to think that there are things we can put off now and deal with “when it’s over.” Yes, it will be over at some point, but we can’t afford to wait.

– See this as a time to shine. If we are ever going to go above and beyond, this is the time to be there for our clients. If we can think ahead, anticipate needs and reach out with solutions before our clients have even identified the problems, then we’ll really be able to shine.

– Think ahead to the time when we’ll be looking back on this. What we do now, how we support our clients, how we adapt to the changed circumstances, and how effectively we see it through: that’s how we will be remembered long after this is over.

– Think long-term. Yes, we will get back to normal at some point – but the normal is going to be different from here on out. A lot of the ways we learn to work right now are very probably going to form a large part of the way we work in the future. So maybe we shouldn’t be thinking in terms of temporary solutions, but in terms of building better ways to work, period.

– Hold the team together. In a lot of ways, this is Job One, the first thing we need to think about and the most important thing we need to do. I list it last here only because it was the topic of my last blog — not to suggest that there’s not a lot more we could say about it.

At some point in the future, we’ll all look back on this in terms of how we work and how we live. Making it work in terms of technology was the easy part – we were pretty much there already and we had all the tools. Making it work in terms of our mindset about how work is done, — how we work together when we are apart — well, that’s where we had to push the reset button.

Keep safe, stay healthy… and carry on.


If there is a topic that you would like me to write about, please email me at bill@penmore.com.

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