Against the Grain: Special Edition (April 7, 2020)

The Importance of Maintaining Connections

Dear Friends,

Ours is an industry where we’ve long valued the opportunity to shake hands and look a business partner in the eye when negotiating significant deals. That’s probably why we (or maybe just those of us who are a little more tenured) have been slower to adopt technologies like virtual conferencing instead of an in-person sales call.

And those same people, who have abruptly transitioned to remote work, might be finding ourselves a little out of our element and sorely missing a truly enjoyable part of our work and family lives recently.

Another silver lining of this situation may be the creativity that people are displaying to stay in touch with business associates and loved ones, and fill that fundamental human need for connection.

We’ve seen our news anchors, late-night television hosts, and favorite musicians shift to performing for us from their living rooms to continue entertaining their audiences and share Some Good News. I’m hearing great stories of how friends and colleagues are trying similar approaches, but with a little less production support.

Here are just a few…

  • Many offices have started Friday afternoon Zoom cocktail parties or morning coffee meetings with a primary objective of staying connected. I trust that your professionals will find ways to get their work done and will reach out for support related to those tasks. But they might not be as comfortable seeking out a casual conversation, so spend some time making that happen too.
  • One of our sales people created a YouTube video training meeting on one of our products using a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood-like character. He sang a song, put on a sweater and slippers, and then went into a video tour of a manufacturing plant. Customers loved it!
  • I understand some of the NAWLA 10 Groups have moved to virtual meetings via Zoom or similar videoconferencing solutions. This is a great way to hear how your peers all over the U.S. and Canada are adjusting operations, dealing with supply chain and logistical challenges or just commiserate over a shared challenge.
  • Teams have started tours or photo contests of home offices to show the wide range of environments from which their getting work done. To that point, if yours is less than picture-perfect, there is no shortage of Zoom backgrounds available to anyone with Google to help spruce up your “home office” or cocktail party. If you’re not sure how to change your Zoom background, here’s a little help.
  • For children celebrating birthdays recently, I’ve read that first responders, local police officers and friends and neighbors have hosted parades to help them commemorate in a physically distanced but memorable way. I imagine kind gestures like these take just a little time but help defray a lot of disappointment.
  • Speaking of first responders and essential workers, our companies and those we do business may have large numbers of employees who are not able to work remotely, so we should be taking time to acknowledge their sacrifices throughout this time. I’ve seen communities deliver pizzas and baked goods to healthcare workers, leave treats for their delivery people and postal workers or just share notes of gratitude.

Ultimately, each of these acts is designed to bring a badly needed smile to someone else’s face during a uniquely challenging time, and I’m sure there are countless other examples. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes me most encouraged right now.

I’d love to see and hear more of these stories from your companies; don’t hesitate to share them with me or NAWLA Headquarters. We can post them on the blog or social media channels to inspire each other.

Stay well!

Tom Le Vere
President | Shareholder, Weekes Forest Products
2020 NAWLA Chair

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