It is time to get back to work, even if you are going to be required to work from home for a little while longer, and also if you have to social distance. You may have to work from behind a screen, using a video platform to provide the closest substitute we have for a face to face meeting.
There are too many amateur Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube virologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists arguing over whether or not states should open or remain close, none of whom have any background that would suggest they have done the work to express an informed opinion. The truth of the matter is, our elected officials and their scientists are no more certain about opening the economy than your Uncle Enrico, who believes this crisis is a government conspiracy and who insists he once saw Bigfoot on a camping trip in Idaho. No one is certain what will happen when we start opening up for business, but everyone wants to avoid repeating these last few months.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about our responsibilities to our clients, our companies, ourselves, and our economy. While health care workers and scientists fight a war on one front, working to address the virus and the damage it continues to dole out, we have to do battle on the other front, the economic front, working to limit the damage incurred from our shutting off a large part of the economy.
Open or closed, it’s time to get back to work.
For a lot of people, work is a place. Occasionally, while they are there, they do some work. Some of the time, maybe more than you realize, they go to work, but they don’t go to the place called work to work. It’s just space they occupy for some number of hours each day.
Unless your work requires you to stand at the ready waiting for tasks to be assigned to you, completing them and waiting for your next assignment, where your body is located may not be a factor in your ability to work. The fact that you are reading a business newsletter is a strong indication that you are not working on a line in a factory, the kind of job that would require you to show up in a particular place at a specific time.
You are most likely a knowledge worker, a phrase coined by the greatest of all management thinkers, Peter Drucker, who suspected we would struggle to work when we had to decide for ourselves what to do with our time and energy. The autonomy that comes with being free to decide for yourself what to do, how to do it, and when to do it requires a framework for prioritizing the work and a disciplined approach to producing the results needed of you.
I am not suggesting that you may not have been as productive as you could have been with all this going on. Wait, yes, I am; that is what I am suggesting.
With a laptop, a smartphone, and priorities, you can work from anywhere. I wrote 20,000 of the 65,000 words that make up my third book, Eat Their Lunch, sitting in a window seat between Minnesota and San Diego, between Columbus and Phoenix, and a handful of other flights. Which reminds me, good noise-canceling headphones are beneficial when you work on airplanes—or at home.
You Are Already Anywhere
Work isn’t a place. It is the creation of some outcome. Just like that, location no longer matters, only the result. So, what results do you need to produce?
To do our part bringing our economy back from what is sure to be the most profound decline in GDP in history, you and I need to create economic activity, the kind in which clients exchange money for something of value. There is an old saying, “Nothing happens until someone sells something,” and it’s absolute truth, and one worth observing when what we do matters and when 20,000,0000 people are collecting unemployment.
The beginning of all economic activity starts with other kinds of activities. It begins with the personal duty to prioritize what’s most important, using your time and energy on things that matter.
There are no mysteries about the activities that generate new opportunities and economic activity. The activities include calling your clients to help them improve their position and creating new opportunities to provide them the better outcomes they need now. There is no better place to start than the companies where you have contacts and contracts. You also need to invest time and energy in contacting your past clients, your dream clients, your targeted accounts, and your prospects.
Even though there is still much uncertainty, and even though you are going to run into people who may feel paralyzed with fear, you and I have to try to help people see a better future, one we can help them pull forward in time by having the conversations and making the commitments they need to make to get started.
Closing at a Distance
The work that we do is not subject to whether or not you are required to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, a therapeutic (which would be very helpful), or a vaccine (something that may take a little time). Our work doesn’t depend on the state reopening, staying closed, or reducing the restrictions your governor imposed on the population of your state.
The only critical dependency here is your willingness to get back to work and start helping to bring your clients and prospects back, bringing your company back, and in doing so, pulling the economy along with us out of an economic crisis.
Much of the talk lately has been about the importance of the virtual tools that allow us to close the distance by using video to hold meetings. For the next few months, while we can’t close the physical gap between our clients and us, we can learn to close at a distance.
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