Understandably, Covid-19 is causing a lot of anxiety – the news around it is worrying, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are close to someone who does. It’s already directly affecting many people and businesses and hopefully both the government and local communities will work out solutions that minimise the damage. Despite all this worry and stress though, I believe we are being presented with an amazing opportunity to be agile and find new ways of doing things – at least in the short to medium term and who knows how attitudes will change over the course of this year? 

Keeping in touch with people

One of the biggest changes for people is social distancing or self-isolation. As a freelancer I’ve been doing this for ages and I really enjoy it – I focus better on my work and get more done. It’s also forced me to be more intentional about connecting with people, which is how the idea of #VirtualCoffeeBreaks or #DigitalBrews came about.

I can’t claim credit for the idea, but I saw it Twitter a while back and thought it would be a great way to extend my own network while getting a lot of deadline-driven work completed. Over the past two months or so, I’ve met some great people, had a chat about what they do and looked for opportunities to build further links for them. In some cases, this includes creating opportunities of work for other people, helping freelancers connect with people providing complementary services, and collaborating with service providers to help them solve some problems.

If you’re new to working from home, why don’t you set up a virtual coffee break with your colleagues, just to catch up for half an hour a few times over the week. There’s plenty of software you can use that will connect people in different locations. I also use Slack channels, but I prefer video calls, because I have to stop what I’m doing and be present. 

Mindset

Thinking differently and being aware of our mindset is critical if we are to get through the next few months in one piece – not just as individuals, but as local communities and society as a whole. While it might feel difficult to keep positive when your trip to the supermarket resembles an apocalyptic scene, the trick is to remember that as humans we, and we alone, are in charge of us and our thoughts, and that no external power or event has any influence on us, unless we let it. 

It’s taken me decades to both realise this and fully practice it, but it is enabling me to observe what’s happening whilst not becoming emotionally involved with it all. If this experience helps other people to develop mastery over their internal chatter and realise their own power, then that has to be a good thing. 

Doing things differently

I do believe the circumstances now present an incredible opportunity to create change and do things differently and we should grab it with both hands. Look at how air pollution has cleared up in various areas across the world – will we really go back to how things were? Will companies really demand their workforce to be in the office, if working from home has been proven to be successful? As individuals, will we find new ways to entertain ourselves that don’t involve consuming, or will we be happy to quietly read a book and go for a walk? Will the random kind acts continue, or will we be doing the future equivalent of panic-buying toilet roll?

Of course we may still be at the very start of things and we don’t know how the next few months will pan out, but I reckon if we take the panic out of the situation, we could turn a disaster into a great opportunity that we can all benefit from.