#Pocalypso | Self-Improvement in the Time of COVID

2020-05-01 – My company’s business is relatively insulated from the disruptions of the pandemic. People need our service rain or shine. I’m pretty lucky.

I also work from home. The company is located in North Carolina but I live in Chicago. Most of the employees normally work in the home office, but a large fraction is scattered around the country—a large enough fraction that it wasn’t a huge problem for the company to switch to everyone working from home (or almost everyone) when the pandemic hit. It changed life for the NC employees, but it really didn’t change life for me. I was at my desk in my basement every morning before the pandemic and I’m at my desk in my basement every morning now.

But there’s another wrinkle.

The company’s owners decided to put everyone who want it through a self-improvement program which will last six weeks. It’s not an organizational-improvement program; it’s a self-improvement program, though I assume they hope that it will have benefits for the company as well as the individual employees.

The program involves, among other things, being organized into groups of about a half dozen, so that we can work on all the steps together. We have a group meeting once a week and we all send a “check-in” email to the group once a day.

I don’t know if this was deliberate, but the group is forming the kind of social support you might have coming into the office—without actually coming into the office.

The members of my group come from different parts of the organization. We do not work together, as far as I know. I’ve had peripheral prior contact with only one member of the group; the rest were strangers. Were strangers, but not anymore.

Back in 2005, I worked for a different company. This was the time of Hurricane Katrina and we had offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. My boss at the time would have phone conferences with our coworkers from those offices who had evacuated to various safe places. We didn’t talk a lot of business. We mainly made sure people were safe.

I have the same feeling about my current company’s self-improvement program.

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