We are living through unprecedented and unsettling times – in just a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world as we knew it.
With most of the world suddenly engaging in social distancing, so many of the things we took for granted – hugging friends and family, gathering to eat, dancing in crowds – have been put on hold.
Part of what makes this moment feel so difficult is not just the anxiety we all feel around the virus and the fear of the economic damage it is doing, but also the way it has paused a lot of those activities that connect us as people.
“We have responded by finding new ways to connect, to interact, to maintain community”
Needless to say, we’re a resourceful species – we have responded by finding new ways to connect, to interact, to maintain community. Connecting people is what we try to do here at Intercom, so below, my teammates on the Intercom Content team share some links or online events we’ve found useful, or informative, or distracting, or inspiring.
We hope you find some of these resources useful during this difficult time.
It has been amazing to see during this very weird period just how much people are coming together, creating new things, and sharing those things with the world. A great example of this is a “Sanity Savers” doc initially put together by employees from Salesforce, which lists anything and everything to help keep sane and fit while working from home.
My favorite thing has been the recreation of live events online, mimicking that shared experience we normally get in person. Last week, I “went” to the weekly pub quiz with my friends, a performance of Candlelit tales, concerts from Gavin James and John Legend, yoga classes from some of my favorite teachers, and a judo/jiu jitsu total body workout. It’s awe-inspiring to see the beautiful things that people are still managing to contribute to the world, and I’m hoping for more.
If you’re looking for ways to keep focused at work, I’m using a combination of Des’s Productivity Guide to help me plan out my days and the Pomodoro technique to help me break down my work into manageable chunks.
Handling emotional health
I don’t know about you, but my hands are raw from all of the daily washing and cleaning, my yoga studios are closed, and I’m fantasizing about going out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. The gravity of this situation makes it challenging to voice these small frustrations. I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for my health and safety or disrespectful to those suffering far worse right now.
“It’s a good idea to be honest about how you’re feeling about all of this, take deep breaths, and celebrate the happy moments throughout each day”
But when I came across an article on how to handle emotional health in a pandemic, I took a small sigh of relief. It’s okay to be sad that things have changed, no matter how small. It’s a good idea to be honest about how you’re feeling about all of this, take deep breaths, and celebrate the happy moments throughout each day. This article reminded me to take each positive moment – the budding leaves on my avocado plant, the excited greeting of my dog – and use them to propel me through it all.
The chickens hold the key
In high school, I wanted to be a scientist. Not just any old scientist, but a medical researcher at the NIH. (Time for a confession: I dropped out of organic chemistry halfway through the first class.) As Covid-19 continues to shake up our lives, I’ve found myself absorbed, maybe a little too much so, in understanding how new vaccines are made and just when we can expect one.
“It’s stories like these that have provided much needed interruptions to long days at home”
That curiosity led me to a discovery that has both amused me and brought me some small comfort in these uncertain times – secret government chickens. In a recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money, Sara Gonzalez chats to Rick Bright from BARDA, the US agency that houses thousands, if not millions, of chickens whose eggs can be used to produce emergency vaccines. The exact number and their location are classified as a matter of national security, of course.
It’s stories like these that have provided much needed interruptions to long days at home, filling them with new insights and reminders of the people whose work will help lead us to better days.
Listing all the positives
I’d like to think of myself as an optimist with a healthy dose of cynicism so I’m trying to maintain a good balance of light and shade in the present climate. I’ve started keeping a list of the positives I’ve seen arise from the current situation – recent entries included:
- Seeing communities look after each other. Here’s a map that matches people able to help with those in need nearby. So simple and yet so heartwarming to see the number of willing volunteers.
- Spending more time with my dog. He’s still a puppy so there’s plenty of time to teach him new tricks. Check out #NationalPuppyDay on Twitter or Instagram for plenty of related content.
- Looking to the future, who knows what good will come from people pulling together – this is a really nice piece in the New York Times that expresses this really well.
We also held a discussion with some of Intercom’s experienced remote workers, diving into the do’s and don’ts of working from home – their tips and lessons have certainly helped during this adjustment period.
Creating our own solutions
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit obsessively scrolling through Twitter, reading people’s stories, and poring over various data graphs. What has inspired me most isn’t a particular resource, but individual stories of human resilience in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and tragedy. I’m in awe of the brave people who are at the frontline of this pandemic – the nurses and doctors working long hours, the grocery store workers manning busy counters, and those who are helping vulnerable neighbors.
“I plan to create a resource to help people with their mental health”
I’ve been feeling a mix of gratitude, anxiety, and a little powerlessness. The question that’s been top of mind for me throughout is, “How can I help?” If like me, you want to channel your excess nervous energy into creating something meaningful that helps people you may find inspiration in ConvertKit’s new YouTube show “The Future Belongs to Creators.” Right now I’m focused on practicing self care, caring for family and friends, and giving myself a break. But, once I’m ready, I plan to create a resource to help people with their mental health. ConvertKit’s show helped me realize that just because I’m not in the medical field doesn’t mean I can’t help in some small way. If you’re a creator, I hope it serves as inspiration and permission for you too.
Taking control of the little things
So many of our families and friends are faced with losing their jobs, never mind the risk of serious illness, that fixating on how to be productive from our spare room really doesn’t seem so urgent. For those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home right now, figuring out how to set up our desk or which video conferencing software to use are incredibly minor problems given the scale of the pandemic.
“Missing the company of our colleagues is no small thing at a time like this”
And yet, for so many of us, the stress of the past few weeks has been compounded by the disorienting shift from working in an office to working in whatever space we can find at home. Missing the company of our colleagues is no small thing at a time like this. Our feeds have been inundated with useful content on this topic over the past few weeks, but I was most impressed by this free ebook, Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily, written by the renowned technology writer (and former Jeopardy contestant) Glenn Fleishman.
Packed with practical advice and ingenious tips, it goes a long way towards helping you take control of the little things that are actually in your control – and at the moment, a little bit of control can make a big difference. Above all, it is characterized by a real sense of generosity, not just in being given away for free, but also in Fleishman’s measured discussion of this pandemic – his tone is that of someone with the experience and perspective us sudden remote workers need right now, and he’s here to help.
Staying on top of the data
Like many of you, I’ve become far too familiar with COVID-19’s growth curve and its devastating impact in the last few weeks. These things are constantly in the back of my mind despite my best efforts to stay focused.
What’s helped me regain some perspective is grounding myself in hard data and expert advice. I’ve appreciated Databrew’s COVID-19 epidemic curve explorer that lets you compare and contrast the growth rate of the disease across different countries. Yes, the data tells a grim tale. Yet it also gives me renewed determination and resolve because it shows in several places how the curve has been forced to plateau over time with stoic communal efforts.
Groups like Reforge have also been incredibly resourceful and reassuring. With so many economic uncertainties threatening people’s livelihoods, Reforge has been generous with their sales and marketing advice for the SaaS community. At their Growth in Turbulent Times webinar last week, seasoned leaders like Brian Balfour, Patrick Campbell, Mark Roberge and more shared tangible steps that business leaders can take right away to increase their runway and retention.
These insights are exactly what’s needed to calm racing thoughts in these times so that we can focus on the path ahead.