COVID is pushing us to learn a lesson

Businesses, at least good ones, plan for the long term. Even as markets incentivize short-term gains at companies, long-term value is key. You can’t plan or outrace a global pandemic, however. So, why do we keep acting like we can?

I understand people who want to get back to the office, I do. I love those people. I’ll admit it, being together with them puts a smile on my face. I am not one of them, however. I’m perfectly content out here in rural PA, surrounded by my family, the rolling hills outside my window, and the LEGO sets inside my office.

Yet, corporations are pushing. Pushing to get back to normal. Pushing to reopen. Pushing people outside of their comfort zone to come back, to get vaccinated, to travel, to schedule in-person conferences and events months out. All of this pushing has resulted in anxiety, stress, and one more thing.

Pushing dates.

Blackrock, Wells Fargo, and Microsoft (where I work) have pushed back office openings to no earlier than October. Amazon just delayed their opening back to January. Granted, these are companies looking at essential (and warehouse) workers who can’t avoid a physical location and are trying to figure out how to safely come back.

But we can’t. This isn’t over.

With the ever-moving goalposts of ‘getting people back to the office,’ questions about opening are being asked in board rooms around the world. The question of remote work vs. coming into the office shows that we aren’t focusing on the right thing. Still. After 18 months.

The question every company and government needs to ask should be ‘what are we doing to ensure we stop this virus and get everyone back to normal?’ Every single person should be asking themselves this.

I don’t want to hear dates anymore. I’m done. I want to hear how we are going to make sure that we all get out of this as safely as we possibly can and here’s why.

Collectively, we’ve failed. The rapid mutation of the virus has proven that it is a worthy adversary that can control our actions. Further complicating the virus are that the basic tenants of our humanity and society, freedom and liberty, multiply it. I’m not saying we need to take freedoms away, but I am saying that we aren’t going to be out of this until people put the needs of others above their own.

Unfortunately, this is a highly unlikely proposition.

Consider climate change. If we can’t figure out how to stop the transmission of a highly virulent disease with the availability of vaccines, masks, and near-ubiquitous access to whatever you want at your fingertips via UPS and FedEx, what hope do we have to care for each other when wildfires, floods, and storms ravage our livelihoods?

Well, little. But even a little hope is hope. My hope is that you will push back. Push to solve these challenges. Push for others who aren’t empowered to push. Push against those who are pushing against rationality, which might mean just showing up.

This post is my push. I’m going to push you to figure out ways to move us all forward. We must come together and refocus our attention to getting out of this pandemic well before we start planning a comeback.

If we can do this, if we can meet this challenge head-on and remove this virus from the face of the earth, this will set us up for the next few decades as we face our biggest challenge yet – climate change.

Push. Push for change.