While the world is in panic mode and as we all get used to working from home regularly it’s important to remember that things will get better – my wife, who’s also an entrepreneur, and I remind ourselves of this every night.
When we’re busy helping our teams, our customers, our neighbors, our families, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact we also need to position our businesses to come out of this period stronger and ready to pounce on the opportunities that will present themselves when the economy bounces back.
I believe the key here is not necessarily to make the right decisions, ostensibly because making the right decisions implies that we know exactly what we are dealing with here and for how long, which we do not. But as psychologist Dr Harriet Lerner says, “we should not let fear lead us into isolation or stop us from acting with clarity, compassion and courage. Terrible things happen, but it is still possible to move forward with love and hope.”
So I realised that I had two options in front of me:
- I can look at the dire economic predictions and worry about how much I will suffer; or
- I could galvanise my team and help them get to a place where they are ready to help me capitalise on a rebounding economy.
You’re reading this because I chose the latter.
So, beyond our day jobs helping SaaS clients with their automated software testing and mobile app penetration testing services, this is what we’re doing to help ourselves during this rather interesting time in our lives.
1. Washing our hands with soap
You have probably heard this a lot recently, but it is literally a life saver. I realised that most of us have probably never been taught how to wash our hands properly and systematically.
Medical professionals go through many hours of training on this aspect of hygiene alone. So we can all do worse than to learn from them and learn the process they use.
2. Getting exercise into our bodies
Personal trainers aren’t an option. Gyms are not the most desirable places at the minute. So my family and I are maximising our dose of fresh air exercise by walking or running on the road or in a park. In Australia, we’re lucky because we can do this and still maintain our social distance.
Depending on where you live and the public spaces that are available to you, it might be a great time to take advantage of the drop in the number of cars on the road and enjoy the cleaner, fresh air outside.
For those in my team who need professional help to exercise, I point them to the myriad of options that are free to try during this pandemic.
3. Focus on sleeping better
I find the current level of media and politician-driven panic entirely unhealthy. As our collective anxiety levels rise, our sleep quality deteriorates.
Not only is poor sleep bad for our general health but good sleep has been proven to enhance our memory and cognitive function.
Clearly, we’re going to need both if we’re going to position our business for post-recession growth.
I know that regular exercise is one of the surefire ways to fix your sleep, but I’ve also been encouraging my teams to watch a little less TV news and turn off the instant Coronavirus alerts that pop up on their phones. This will help to reduce anxiety and hopefully also divert their minds to more productive topics, while benefiting their sleep patterns too.
As an aside, studies show that good sleep also helps our bodies effectively utilise the full benefits of vaccines. This will be important when the vaccine for COVID-19 is finally released. Until then, at least we’ll sleep well!
4. Eat healthy and regularly
Just like sportspeople feed off the energy of crowds in the stadiums, us office-going types feed off the energy of our colleagues. This energy is hard to find when we’re all working from home.
I’m a firm believer in energy being either positive or negative and therefore it is super important to maximise our intake of the right variety. If we’re exercising and sleeping better then that’s almost half the battle won.
In this age of empty supermarkets and panic buying I make it a point to ask my team during every morning huddle about whether they have enough food. Because if a supermarket is empty in their area, it might not be in mine and what better way to help someone in my team than to deliver a care package.
5. Daily virtual huddle that everyone attends
My teams are spread across three continents and we work on large scale SAP software testing tools and services for important enterprise clients. These types of clients don’t take kindly to disruptions in service quality. At the very least, it is not a good look if we’re constantly using remote working or the pandemic as an excuse for service delivery.
So during pre-Covid times a messaging service like Slack is a godsend. But in such strange and disconcerting times I don’t believe our normal communication channels are enough.
I need and cherish human connection and I know many of my team members do too. Because we can’t achieve this physically we use the phone or video conferences as substitutes.
I’ve found that it’s good to start these meetings with a general well-being “check-in.” Just a couple of sentences or questions can sometimes be enough to give people a feeling that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this together.
6. Survey our people to find out how they are really doing
Some of our team members prefer anonymous or written feedback as opposed to that given in a “public” forum like a daily virtual huddle. These opinions are important in helping me reflect on and fine tune my team engagement strategy in these strange times.
Plus, by using a free service like Google Forms or Typeform I can use the information gathered to benchmark my team’s attitudes and performance throughout this period and beyond.
I wonder just how valuable this data might be when business is growing exponentially again after the bounce and we’re trying to measure the value of all the team engagement ideas that we implemented during the pandemic?
7. Take our minds off the Coronavirus
Our favourite sports teams have stopped playing. Our favourite out-of-home excursion options are (or should be) in lock-down. The only thing the news channels are reporting is COVID-19 doom and economic gloom.
In this environment, it’s easy to fall into the trap of endlessly thinking and talking about the pandemic.
As a leader I believe it’s incumbent upon me to give my teams a chance to focus on something else.
So I’ve discouraged all Coronavirus talk in meetings after your virtual daily huddle is done. I’m also encouraging our people to share upbeat Spotify playlists so that we can all listen to something other than negative media channels throughout their day.
Maybe for the first time in human history, we are ACTUALLY all in this together. So connect with me on LinkedIn to let me know how these ideas work for your team or even if you’ve got some more ideas to expand this list.
Stay strong. Stay happy and keep your chin up.