Working from home has given me a lot of time for introspection. The entire world has been jolted by COVID-19. To think that a submicroscopic virus could take so many innocent lives so quickly while bringing down even the most powerful economies is astonishing. I am a glass half full person by nature and so I have to believe that we can learn from COVID and come out stronger as individuals, communities, and as a society. I decided to write this article after a long sleepless night wondering what we can learn from this experience. I’ve made a list which I am sure is not all-inclusive of some personal observations during this time and hopes of a better future:
Following your purpose is the common thread I have seen in those that fight on the front-lines. I have always understood this calling from healthcare workers, but to watch the rest of the world rally to provide food, mail, laundry, clean streets, etc. is awe-inspiring. For many, COVID can provide the time to re-assess the status quo and focus on one’s purpose.
Quality family time for many working parents is limited to evenings and weekends, more so for those who travel extensively as I do. Quarantine family activities such as card games, puzzles, movies, home-cooked meals, and long walks now occur daily. We are a stronger family unit as a result.
As a business leader, I’ve come to fully appreciate the difference between a pure “hit your number” culture versus one that focuses on its people and long-term growth. Perhaps you can’t do business, but you can create relationships and add value to your customers. What a great opportunity for business leaders to take care of your employees, focus on the culture, and prepare to come out stronger. For many organizations, COVID has also provided an opportunity to evaluate areas of waste. Some businesses may discover that working from home is not only less expensive and more productive but leads to happier employees.
Healthcare is a complicated one. Throughout the pandemic, we have heard of so many inspiring stories of healthcare workers on the front line. What we don’t hear as much about is the economics of our healthcare system and how care is delivered. For example, we accomplished in just months with telemedicine what we haven’t been able to do for 20 years. Telemedicine is here to stay and we will continue to find innovative ways to deliver care. On the flip side, COVID has made us ask how much of the care we provide in the US is essential versus non-essential. To be clear, non-essential does not always mean elective. I’ve spoken to surgeons who went from being highly respected members of the medical staff to being furloughed, non-essential providers. With almost an 85% drop in elective procedures and patients too scared to go to the ER, many hospitals and smaller practices won’t make it out of COVID intact. Would post-pandemic healthcare dollars be better spent on disease prevention and health? Perhaps COVID can finally force us to evaluate the current “do more make more” incentives that exist today and reassess how we value the work provided by healthcare providers.
The price and value of education were recently highlighted in a story I read about students suing colleges for refunds. Given the rising cost of college, I wonder if we will ask ourselves what we are getting for the money. As a mother about to send her oldest off to college, this question weighs heavily on my mind. It is possible some institutions will not survive the pandemic and I wonder if many students currently enrolled in online education will find it just as impactful and more convenient. Can colleges shift their model to offer more affordable, virtual education?
Hygiene has become front and center of the battle against the virus. Social distancing, hand-washing/sanitizing, and “don’t touch your face” have become everyday phrases. I had a fellow medical student from Japan who educated me that in Japan, people wore masks when they were sick so she can protect others. Though I look forward to finally being able to hug again, I do hope these habits stick. Can you imagine how many deaths from the flu we could have prevented annually if we paid this close attention to basic hygiene?
The environment is not talked about enough. In many parts of the world, the air is clear for the first time. What can we do post-COVID to keep it that way?
Personal and professional development have gone hand-in-hand for me during this time. I appreciate more than ever the power of vulnerability, humility, transparency, and authenticity in how I communicate as a business leader, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. How much more meaning can we bring to our professional and personal lives if we communicate with these values?
Many of us have re-learned the meaning of resilience and have shared our strength with our kids, co-workers, and community. Calm is contagious.
Love, compassion, and gratitude. We need more of this…always, nothing more to be said.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if all we get out of COVID is heart-break and financial ruin? Humanity can come out of COVID stronger and better. We have an opportunity to look back on this time and say that we didn’t lose hundreds of thousands of lives in vain, but rather, we learned new ways to improve and help ourselves, others, and the planet.
Originally published on LinkedIn.com
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