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  • Mattie Leibowitz

Staying Connected During Covid-19

By Mattie Leibowitz, Associate Consultant at Bent Ear Solutions

Every generation has experienced that one event that alters life as they know it, which resultantly influences their perspective for years to come. For my grandparents, it was the Great Depression, which ultimately caused them to make decisions based largely on the fiscal impact for the rest of their lives. However, my grandparents have shared that there were some positives to come from living through something that impactful, such as becoming closer with their families as a result of the shared struggle. For my generation, the COVID-19 pandemic is that experience. And while the spread of the Coronavirus has come with its share of challenges, maybe it’s worthwhile to consider some of the operational strengths and silver linings that it has unearthed, too.

First off, Bent Ear Solutions has exceled at implementing practices to still ensure a sense of comradery among our team. We regularly participate in Zoom Happy Hours – which are obviously BYOB – where no work talk is allowed. We’ve shared fun facts about ourselves, reminisced about memories together, and just allowed ourselves the time and space to continue getting to know one another in this “new normal”. BES even threw a virtual holiday party, complete with surprise packages sent to everyone’s homes, containing mini champagne bottles and glasses for everyone to pull out during the event. In addition, we utilized the power of email to continue engaging with one another. During the month of December, the leadership team would send out a “Holiday song scramble” every day and staff could respond with their guesses until the end of the month when one winning guesser was presented with a gift card. Trust me, it got a little competitive and some name-calling may have ensued… but receiving the email every day was a great way to shift gears from work and have a little fun.

Not only have we tried to instill a sense of “We’re all in this together” with our own staff, but we have aimed to maintain a sense of human connection with our clients, too. We have found that this connection is vital to being a successful listener and trusted advisor. For example, whenever possible, we initiate a Zoom or Teams meeting, rather than a phone call. Further, our policy is to always leave our webcams on whenever speaking with clients, even if they feel more comfortable leaving theirs off. Our hope is that seeing a friendly face during these conversations might remind clients that we are always here for them and we are more than just a company, we are comprised of real individuals who are eager to help them solve problems. In keeping our cameras on, not only do we see each other’s faces, but we also get a little glimpse into people’s natural environments. Seeing the place that a client calls home, and vice versa, allows us to humanize one another and establish a trusting relationship. And yes, this includes adorable kids photo bombing, dogs barking at the mailman, and everything in-between.

The transition to virtual work has also enabled us to better leverage our written communication and data visualization skills with clients and peers. When you can’t rely on in-person dialogues to convey a message, it is critical that you strengthen your ability to be effective and persuasive on paper. Additionally, this time in quarantine has helped our GIS Team to enhance their talent for demonstrating GIS tools and solutions via screen sharing.

Of course, this newfound reliance on technology isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. One significant setback has been how the accessibility to one another can blur those boundaries that were clearer in an office setting. Rather than physically walking out of your office the end of the day and heading home, our homes have become our offices, making us more accessible to colleagues at all hours of the day. These new circumstances have prompted me to wonder, “What can companies and staff implement to make it feel more like we are working at home, not living at work?” Another setback is how incredibly frustrating it can be when your internet is down or unstable. Now that our work has become heavily dependent upon Wi-Fi, any amount of time without the internet can make you feel like you’re on a deserted island and missing out on critical information.

In sum, technology is an invaluable asset that keeps us connected in a world where we may not see each other otherwise. It also allows us to showcase and grow some of our skills that we may not have had the opportunity to utilize as much as we would have liked in the past. On the other hand, it is important to recognize the shortcomings of technology and to acknowledge when accessibility becomes more of a burden than an advantage.

If you or your company could use assistance determining how best to take advantage of your technologies, as a result of Covid-19 or otherwise, please reach out to us at Bent Ear Solutions.

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