Monday, March 23, 2020

6 Things to Learn from COVID-19 About Your Career

By now, I believe most of you reading this have dealt with the COVID-19 virus in some way, even if you haven't been infected (and I hope you have not).

Many of you are working from home, or are working abbreviated schedules. You may be taking on extra work to cover for a sick colleague, or you may be furloughed because of the business downturn.

First, let me say how sorry I am that we're all going through this. It's a difficult, difficult time for everyone, and I am keeping hope alive that we will recover soon.

In the meantime, I'm always about looking for what we can learn from an experience, especially when it comes to our jobs and our careers. Eventually, we will all return to our regularly scheduled lives, so here are some things to think about:

1. Your colleagues aren't so bad. We spend a lot of time being annoyed by a couple of people in our workplace. Evelyn won't ever stop snooping into people's private lives, but you now believe it comes from a place of concern. She doesn't want the nitty-gritty details of how your spouse is doing, she just cares that you're doing OK. And Mike? Maybe he's a little anti-social, but he is always the one who seems to find a solution to a problem the fastest. Isn't that worth overlooking his refusal to say "hello" when you see him?

2. You can do change. The last time a new directive came down from the head honchos, you about lost your sh*t. I mean, come on! How many times are they going to make such stupid changes? Are they absolute morons in the corporate office? OK, now those changes don't seem to be such a big deal, do they? After all, you haven't been outside in nine days, and your kids are playing dodgeball with the cat. You are doing yoga in your kitchen, banging your knuckles on the refrigerator every time you do child's pose. You are also considering cutting "Pandemic Bangs" and you hate bangs.

3. An open concept office is great. In the past, you've become greatly annoyed by the noise and commotion and general hubbub of your company's open office plan. You've taken to wearing headphones, a stocking cap, sunglasses and covering your head with a pillow to block out the noise and distractions. Seems like a pleasant dream now, doesn't it? What you wouldn't give to have someone closer than six feet that wasn't a family member (who has been stuck inside with you for nine days).

4. Meetings aren't so bad. Not sure I thought I'd ever write that, but it's true. There certainly are too many meetings, but there are those times that they serve a purpose. They help us to bounce ideas off one another, bond with our team members and get a handle on what the boss -- and the organization -- considers as key priorities. We plan, we huddle, we laugh and we gripe. What's not to love about meetings?

5. You are your own worst enemy. For a long time you've blamed your boss, your colleagues, customers and the guy who delivers Jimmy John's sandwiches as the reason you can't get anything done. They distract you, they constantly interrupt you and they hurt your productivity. But, wait....none of those people are around and you aren't as productive as you thought you'd be without them around. Granted, the dodgeball thing with the cat is a bit of a distraction, but you find yourself checking social media sites too much, playing games on your phone and trying to make the word's longest paper clip chain. Could it be that maybe you've got some bad habits that you ignore in favor of blaming others?

You're probably sick of hearing this right now, but these really are unprecedented times. I don't know for sure what's going to happen, but the thing I do know is that we have to find something positive in order to get through this. Whether it's beating the cat in dodgeball or finding ways to make work better for ourselves -- and others -- let's do it.

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