Working from home.
These are a few of the phrases that defined March 2020 across the globe, and especially here in the U.S.
At this point, there are no reasonable arguments against these strategies being essential right now in our quest to slow down the spread of Covid-19. I'm sure you agree.
But it's also fair to point out -- without questioning the immediate need for the practices themselves -- just how much is lost by so many of us being confined to our homes.
The macroeconomic impact is the most obvious and concerning collateral damage. And most everyone seems clear-eyed about the severity of it, even if there are a wide variety of arguments for how to combat it.
What can often get lost, however, are the micro impacts of our daily isolation, which can impact our thinking, our mood, and even our ability to adapt to our new work reality.
Consider my wife, for example.
While I have worked from home for almost a decade now, and am used to it, she has worked in a traditional corporate environment for her entire career.
She is used to the daily rhythms of commutes and in-person meetings. She is used to being able to physically walk over to someone, or having someone walk over to her, to address a question or concern or even just chit-chat for a minute or two.
Transitioning an entire company of people with that mindset to remote work overnight is a major challenge.
Since she and I now share the same home office, I can see firsthand how she and her team are working hard to make the best of the transition ... but I can also see when the frustration and uncertainty of how to make it work start to bubble over.
As she explained to me, you can't just recreate in-person collaboration and training on Zoom or Slack. Maybe you can if you and the people you work with are used to remote work, but you sure as heck can't do it in two weeks with people who are not.
She's right (as usual).
And I think it's important at a time like this to recognize and be candid about what's missing, and about what the limitations of remote work and life are, so that we can do everything possible to mitigate all of these little micro issues throughout the day.
Because they add up to something substantial, and we'll never ameliorate problems that we don't recognize or admit.
Another example: yesterday's virtual happy hour that we hosted inside of the THINKERS Workshop.
One of the biggest deficiencies we experience in isolation is a reduced exposure to perspectives that are different from our own. This is why getting a diverse group of people together from inside of the community was so beneficial.
- We shared book recommendations.
- We talked about what we do and how we arrived at our current positions in our careers.
- We commiserated about how the pandemic is affecting each of our lives.
- We had an in-depth conversation about the erosion of our national identity. (Not everyone present may have agreed, but everyone sure listened.)
- We even talked about the THINKERS Notebook and App ... and Robb used a line that I am absolutely stealing for future marketing copy! "If I lose my notebook, I never lose my ideas."
All of this exposure to different perspectives and different ideas -- in just one hour with a group of 10 people. So much value for everyone involved that would have been lost without the opportunity to come together.
I learned more in that hour than I did the entire rest of the day working on my own.
And it's so important in times like these to recognize the compounding lost value of these missed interactions with other people.
The science is pretty clear now that loneliness can have a negative impact on our health and happiness; but we also shouldn't forget the negative impact that isolation can have on our ability to think creatively and empathetically.
Which means that we need to make time and make the effort to keep exposing ourselves to other people's perspectives.
- Maybe it's reading books.
- Maybe it's joining an online community.
- Maybe it's watching a documentary.
- Maybe it's attending a virtual happy hour.
- Maybe it's calling an old friend.
- Maybe it's broaching a new topic with someone you live with so that you can gain new perspectives on different topics even from the same people.
- Maybe it's ... on and on and on.
The accessibility of reliable technology means that there is no shortage of ways to continue interacting with others, and to continue experiencing different perspectives, even while we are confined to our homes.
So that's the big idea this week: be upfront with yourself about what's missing in your new reality, and then do your best with the tools you have available to replace it in the best way you're able.
We'll never replace the depth and power of in-person communication with a video call. And a virtual happy hour can't recreate the energy and camaraderie of an in-person happy hour.
But we can strive to keep connecting in the best ways we're able.
Our work, our health, and our thinking -- and in turn, our society as a whole -- will all be better for it.
In this week's THINKERS Roundup, you will find three links to resources about the importance of experiencing different perspectives and how to do it when you're stuck at home.
But first, a quick recap of five new videos that were posted inside of the THINKERS Workshop this week ...
On Monday, Sean and I hosted an informal video chat during which we explained a few key takeaways from two books we read recently.
To watch the replay of that video chat, click: Why We Become Riveted and How to Become Indistractable.
Also, Sean has been posting a series of video monologues discussing how to make the most of crisis situations by discovering new opportunities that others might be overlooking.
Each of the four videos is short and insightful.
- Part One: How crisis situations provide new opportunities and what you should be doing right now to prepare for them.
- Part Two: How to quickly become educated on any market you want to participate in.
- Part Three: A simple technique that will improve your ability to find opportunities by being in the right place at the right time with the right people.
- Part Four: The two essential skills THINKERS use to determine the best opportunity for them.
Now on to this week's links ...
By learning more about others, we learn more about ourselves
There are over 7.5 billion people in the world today and every one of us thinks in a different way.
Sure there are people that have similar view points. It’s why we are able to gather around particular causes. But at their core, we do things for different reasons.
It’s this particular fact that has gotten me so interested in people and found a deeper appreciation for people.
It was through that fact as well that I learned a valuable lesson.
That lesson being that we need to appreciate the differences in perspective and therefore people.
In fact, by embracing these differences we can better learn ourselves in ways we can’t imagine on our own.
Read: Why A Difference In Perspective Can Help You Understand Yourself (Eric Burdon)
More perspectives lead to better ideas
The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity.
Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.
This is not just wishful thinking: it is the conclusion I draw from decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers.
Read: How Diversity Makes Us Smarter (Scientific American)
You may be at home, but you don't have to be (or feel) alone
1. Reimagine commute time
Sweet, now that everyone is remote you can roll straight from bed into work! Not quite. You don’t have to commute to and from work at the moment, but you can reimagine this time.
Schedule “coffee” with a different team member during your former car-ride or subway-schlep time each morning and take this time to catch up over the phone, video call, or even text chat. Get your team to sign up for coffee talks with each other and create a solid rotation throughout the whole office. You’ll gain social time, mentorship, different perspectives, and regain some of the spontaneous conversations that are lost in remote working.
You can reimagine your commute home as well… There’s no risk of drinking and driving when there’s no actual drive. May we suggest grabbing a quarantini with some coworkers over a video call?
Quote of the week
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
-- George Eliot
Chief Creative Thinker