Just as we thought the digital age was as lonely as it could get, along came pandemic-induced weeks of remote work, canceled events, self-quarantine periods, and rescheduled travel plans-simply put, I’m worried.
As I work from the Ellevate Network office one last time for at least the next two weeks(while simultaneously trying to decide on the fate of everything from childcare coverage to acquiring basic necessities to our much-anticipated family vacation), I’ve realized that I’m certainly not the only one going through what can only be described as a whirlwind of emotions. The undeniable social distance the pandemic has put between us is inducing the loneliness and the“connected yet alone” sentiment for many. Over the course of my career, I’ve gone through instances when I relied on my team at Ellevate and my community to lift me up; and the spread of COVID-19 is no exception. So, here’s me, with my unaltered, uncensored emotions, and ways that have helped me stay connected when disconnected:
- Over-communicate, not just while working. Sure, it feels weird walking into an empty office or canceling a networking event I was looking forward to, but carrying in-person conversations online is not as difficult as it sounds. Oftentimes we feel”out of the loop” when we’re not directly engaging with peers or colleagues. We don’t realize how much is conveyed during quick lunchroom catch-ups, body language, or post-meeting walks back to your desk. Especially during times of uncertainty, strong leaders and individual contributors look to over-communicate with teams about the state of the business, priorities, and updates. One way to do this is to schedule a standing virtual meeting every morning for a quick check-in – which you can do with your network as well. Make sure you are not out of touch from your community: send each other updates, schedule short video calls to checkin, and share your frustrations or wins.
- Build in time for community. Ellevate’s products are hyper focused on community – we’ve spent years developing digital communities around Squads and online events that drive engagement, connection, and conversation from wherever you are. Throughout this process, what we’ve learned is that in a digital space, we need to be more intentional than ever about building in time for small group conversations and connections that extend beyond the“basics”. We’ve created even more opportunities for our community to continue expanding and keeping up with their connections online: in the upcoming weeks, you’ll see remote work resources, more webinars, and new online workshops so we can continue supporting our community like we’re used to doing in-person.
- Offer yourself a reality check. The outbreak might be halting your favorite concerts or sports games, but it certainly does not halt the inequality and injustice that surrounds us everyday. Remind yourself that if you have started or are preparing to work remotely, you are privileged to be able to do so. If you are able to isolate yourself in a safe space, such as your home, think of those who cannot do the same. If you recently started experiencing what it feels like to be distanced from the world, you might be walking a mile in the shoes of those who were living through the same feeling because of their identity. And importantly, a pandemic should be no excuse for any kind of racism. Consider this as an opportunity to be more connected to the communities that surround you – this is a time that calls for more gratitude, humility, and compassion than ever.
You are strong, resourceful, and determined. And although no one is particularly great at dealing with uncertainty, you are most capable to make the right decision for yourself. If you are experiencing anxiety or stress, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Take a deep breath in and remind yourself that you are not alone. Although you might feel more disconnected than usual; your day-to-day support system, your colleagues, and community are there for you to rely on in the online universe as well. After all, a holistic approach to networking is only possible when you harness the power of the digital age.
When times are tough, it’s your village that rises to support you. As always, the entire Ellevate team, global community and I are here to be your village; to support you, to navigate the volatile times with you, and to connect with you – regardless of where you are and who you are. We know how you feel because we are feeling it too.
And if, for any reason, you fall – we will be right there to lift you back up.
With love and strength,
Originally published on Ellevate.
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