Embracing the new normal

March 2020 | By Fred Conover

The leadership group at our agency debated some important questions this week as we sifted through the latest news around COVID-19.

How should we behave as an employer? As a business?  And as part of the larger community?  What role can a 50-person agency play in trying to slow down the process of a pandemic? There was a lot to consider.

Unlike most crises that disrupt and threaten an organization, no one has seen this one before. That means there aren’t easy answers and there’s no playbook to pull off the shelf. That can be frightening. But we’re not alone. Major sporting events, our kids’ schools and just about every business from Main Street to Wall Street are asking these same questions.

We’ve been guided by the medical experts at the CDC and regional public health officials, and listened closely to the city, state and federal governments. But we also turned to our employees, our team. What were they thinking? What concerns did they have? We kept the lines of communication wide open with them in one-on-one sessions and in groups.

But we also looked inward to our core beliefs as a company. That meant first thinking about what’s best for the health and wellbeing of our employees and their families. We don’t want to put them at risk. So they have been at the forefront of our decision-making, while also finding an approach that lets us support the needs of our clients. They depend on us, never more so than in a time that could challenge their own business health. Whatever decisions we made needed to allow us to remain an invested partner for them.

But it also meant something equally important, something bigger than business. How can we as a company help reduce the spread of the virus in our own communities?

The answers to those questions changed by the hour over the last several days but when we looked at those three key groups that drive us daily – our people, our clients and our community – the answer become pretty obvious yesterday morning.

We made the decision to adjust how we operate for the time-being. Our teams will be working from home through next Friday. At that time, we’ll reassess. It will change how we work but our team was fantastic in coordinating an approach that makes communicating with each other and supporting our clients as seamless as possible. As I said, we’re not alone. Others are doing the same and this may be the new normal for some time.

Change like we’re all experiencing is hard but we think it’s the right call because this is a time that we can rally together as a community and a nation.

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