Many of the activities we have grown used to, such as travelling, eating out or even just shopping, seem to carry an extra burden these days. Even meeting with a good friend for a chat or visiting your parents has lost its innocence and is always overshadowed by potentially being the start of a chain of infection. Which means that familiar perspectives are lacking and the glass seems to be half empty rather than half full in many ways. I really can’t stand it when just about every conversation these days seems to end with the phrase “Hanging in there”.
“Hanging in there“ or “Despite everything”?
As chance would have it, I recently received a positive impulse at a really unexpected place. When leafing through the current issue of our TÜV Rheinland employee magazine I came across an article on the topic of “change and courage” and a report entitled “Eight ways to stand up to Covid-19”. This inspired me to change my way of thinking and to ask myself: What is my current attitude? Do I stand up to Covid-19 or am I stuck in “Hanging in there” mode? What is going well both professionally and privately in this persistently difficult situation?
The benefits of virtual communication
And lo and behold, I found more positives than I thought. Including a special professional highlight that I find worth mentioning at this point: Due to the coronavirus crisis and the fact that many of us are working from home as a result, a lot has happened in our company in terms of virtual communication. Of course, we held video meetings before the crisis, but supported by external providers and only on special occasions. During lockdown in spring, however, there was a great need for internal communication.
“I found more
than I thought”
Our IT department reacted accordingly and since then – after taking a daring leap into the deep end under difficult lockdown conditions – has been offering large video conferences on its own. Countless video conferences have been held since then and the format is popular with colleagues and used for lively discussions. What I like most is the new pragmatic approach to this type of event. The focus is on content and dialogue rather than on organizing a perfectly staged event. For internal communication, this opens up many more exciting communication opportunities, and I look forward to continuing on this path.
Appreciation and a spirit of collaboration
I also feel positive about the way we deal with each other right now. I have the impression that the interaction among co-workers has become more appreciative – perhaps as a result of permanently working at a distance? During the first weeks of lockdown in spring, work continued in numerous telephone conferences as if everyone was present in the room. Meetings were always scheduled at the top of the hour, with as many of them as possible, and the style of communication was similar to that of face-to-face meetings. After the initial fuss had subsided, there emerged an increasing sense of calmness and understanding of a situation that wasn’t always easy for other colleagues. Plus, connections aren’t always stable, especially when working from home. “Business as usual” simply doesn’t cut it then. When someone is somewhat desperately calling “Hello, HELLO? can you hear me?”, that is a good time to take things down a notch and patiently wait until everyone has found their place in the meeting.
And in your private life…?
We thought, if videos of adorable kittens on the Internet are lifting everybody’s spirits, why not enjoy this live and at home? Since we had wanted a pet for quite a while, we took in a cat. Because of coronavirus there is almost always one of us at home who can take care of the cat. And lying on the sofa with a purring cat on your belly after work and reading a good book – that really slows down your life. Plus, we as a family came up with some smaller projects that would otherwise be forgotten. For example, learning to roll sushi (my last attempt was a disaster), making pottery, taking time to write Christmas letters and cards, sorting and organizing photos… At Saint Martin’s Day, we walked with out lanterns through the darkness, and our local Christmas market will be downsized and relocated to our balcony, where we will enjoy a glass of mulled wine next to a candle. And we won’t even need a patio heater for this.
The courage to embrace change – and a purring cat
And in the hopefully not too distant future, when the virus stops spreading rapidly and life returns to normal, we will certainly enjoy the things we weren’t able to do in the last months. Because then we will no longer take them for granted, as they have become something special after having been suspended. I hope that at this point some of the things we now see as positive will remain. Perhaps even the courage to deal with lasting changes and face challenges. And maybe also a more relaxed attitude – the purring cat will certainly play its part in achieving that goal.
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