Working Through COVID-19

How are you holding up? We are on day number I can’t even remember of this pandemic, and I thought it was a good time for me to check in on you. People say change is difficult, and we are all facing some sort of challenge. The business landscape has changed, and we are figuring out new ways to work within these confines. Many of us have relied on new ways of leveraging technologies to accomplish our business goals. How is that working out? Several of us are figuring out how to coexist with our new “coworkers.” I love my kids, but going to the office was a much-needed break from the demands of a six and four-year-old. So, how are you doing? I want to share my thoughts on adapting to the COVID-19 world.

Be Authentic

Are leaders remembered as being stoic during times of crisis? Possibly, but I also see it as important for leaders not to ignore underlying issues in an attempt to be strong for their followers. I have come to understand that being vulnerable does not make you weak. I have always worked hard to remove emotion from business and decision making. That may work in the old face to face world, but it can get you confused with a robot in this new digital world. I know it’s typically frowned upon to discuss “feelings” (ew in my best six-year-old child’s voice), but we are all feeling something right now. How can you say to someone, “we are in this together,” if you do not express the feelings you share. Be authentic in your speech. Remember, it’s not the feelings, but the actions as a result of those feelings that make a leader weak or strong.

Stick to Your Guns

So, what actions do we take to combat those feelings? They better be an extension of your mission and values. If that doesn’t come easy, then you may need to reidentify what you stand for. Change and uncertainty can be tough, so make sure to remind your team who they are and what they stand for. Hanging on your morals could be a good way to provide certainty and reassurance to the people looking up to you. If you lose yourself in the middle of this mess, it will be more likely for the people around you to lose themselves as well. As a company, we have been posting our values on our social media pages to show how we are applying them to the new world. It is one thing to say what you stand for, and another to be what you stand for. More than ever, it is important to be the change you want to see in the world. Take action now.

Embrace Change

Welcome to the evolution of the work world. The standard business schedule was becoming extinct, to begin with, and this pandemic may have been the thing that was needed to kick “normal” off the ledge. This will eventually become the new normal as younger generations embrace flexibility. It may be good that we are forced to deal with it now. I said earlier that people struggle with change, and the current landscape requires us to adapt to immediate change. This could include child care, illness, and the temptation to work all the time at home. As a process person, flexibility terrifies me, but I have found myself in need of flexibility to adapt to cohabitation with my family. I have noticed that my lack of things to occupy myself and my desire to find “normal” has caused me to work around the clock. Can someone help me create boundaries to save me from this? I know I am no good to my family, my company, our clients, or our employees if I break down. Remember to include time for you in all of the things you now juggle.

Be Present

It has become increasingly difficult to manage my team and to remain in the loop. For years, I have prepared our company to work remotely by implementing technologies such as electronic timesheet and intake systems that allow us and our employees to work from anywhere. What I did not prepare for was the human aspect of teleworking? I imagine that most of us have embraced some form of virtual conferencing software, whether Skype or the popular Zoom. My squad utilizes Microsoft Teams. The use of these tools has poured a little social into the days of social distancing, but it cannot alone solve the mental health portion of remote work. As a manager, I need to do a better job of creating opportunities to be available and compassionate. You cannot solve a problem you do not know about and can’t see. Everyone is still adjusting to the new world of work, and it has become increasingly easier to hide our problems. I want you to know we are available to assist with any problem you may have. You are not alone.

Be Thankful

It is essential now, more than ever, that we all take time to step back and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you have, particularly your team, who is going to be there when the dust settles. Appreciation is one of our core values. Kennedy Services vows to appreciate every opportunity to serve our customers and each other. In line with the vision of Elaine Kennedy, we feel compelled to keep our employees and the state of Maryland working. Many of our employees are working in essential roles for the government or local manufacturers. We appreciate them. We are grateful for the amazing people we partner with that provide opportunities for our employees to earn an honest living, but also ensure their safety in an uncertain world. Kennedy Services has not missed a beat and will remain open to serve the community that has been our home for over 40 years.

Learn from the Kids

How are you feeling now? I hope you feel less alone. I hope you know that there is someone out there that is going to help you and your business get through this time. It is okay to be a little anxious. It’s okay to be worried. It’s a new world out there, but that also brings new opportunities, new possibilities. My kids have figured it out. It is difficult to explain social distancing in a way they understand. They just know that they cannot go near their friends. So what did they do? They figured out how to play with one another without crossing the street. They discovered a new way of interacting, and with that, they found some form of normal. You can do it too!

Matt Sarant is a proud member of the Kennedy Services family. Kennedy Services is one of Maryland’s oldest independent, woman-owned staffing services, located in the heart of Baltimore City.