You’re no doubt familiar with that old adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, right? This past week has been most telling. As a business owner, one is still human first. The most pressing urge is to reach out to family members to ensure they are aware and taking precautions. And as a leader, your role is to ensure the wellbeing of your team and continuance of operations. But it cannot be business as usual, we are well past that time.
Although the coronavirus epidemic has certainly been around for well over a month (maybe longer; I’m terrible with time) it seems that locally at least, “everyone” only just now woke up to this international crisis, officially designated as a global pandemic. This week there has been a flurry of communications from every industry agency one can think of, with all our partners espousing the latest warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and local public health departments. With all the repetition it is hard not to feel bogged down and overwhelmed.
The urgency of the health crisis was amplified when I was called to one of my properties because of a fire alarm (false/just overly sensitive system, thank goodness). The fire department arrived before I did and I was surprised and thankful they worked so hard to get the system to reset so I wouldn’t have to drive in (to no avail, but I think they really went above and beyond.) The security company eventually arrived and reset the system, and also gave me some training on the fly. As we wrapped up, my team member automatically reached out to shake the tech’s hand. No-o-o, I wanted to shout, because since I was standing there, I knew I’d be expected to follow suit; yes, I too, shook his hand. Gulp.
Later in the week, I interviewed a property management candidate. She walked in clutching her purse to her chest; I felt she was hoping to avoid an awkward situation of not wanting to shake hands. Our eyes met, and we had an unspoken agreement to skip the social norms of a handshake greeting. At least someone gets it!
Finally, I too made my pilgrimage to a couple of stores in a futile search for hand sanitizer. Of course, there was none available; but I was not alarmed. I’ve always been an avid handwasher, and now, even more so. While I was in the grocery store and department store, I wielded my shopping cart in an indelicate dance of trying to keep three-to-six feet between me and the other shoppers (practicing social distance).
While these are uncertain times, I urge you not to give in to panic. Just use common sense and follow the recommendations from the CDC. Think too, about those who may be at risk of exposure. I was compelled to reach out to a client who owns a janitorial business; I wanted to be sure they were taking necessary precautions. I worry, too about small businesses that are likely going to be impacted by a decrease in sales during this time – how long can they hold out? And the uninsured, those with no paid time off. While we can’t necessarily do anything about these situations, just try and be aware; be empathetic to your neighbors and colleagues.
And as one of the aforementioned toughs, you too should get going. You can still hold meetings by phone or Zoom/GoToMeeting/Skype and their ilk. This is a fine time to refine your marketing plan or initiate a new marketing campaign. You still want to remain top of mind so that when it’s “safe” to go outside again and meet face to face, you will find you haven’t lost too much ground and won’t have to start from scratch. So, there it is tough guys and gals: stay busy, wash your hands, and be safe out there!