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Staying Connected in a Virtual World

Worldwide ERC®’s President & CEO shares some reflections on the new ways in which we’re now working and connecting with one another around the globe.

One month into my new role, I continue to enjoy meeting and connecting with so many of you in multiple ways, even though these opportunities may not fit the conventional definition of the word “meet.” I know all of us on the Worldwide ERC® team miss the personal interactions with our global community of members and look forward to the days when we’ll be able to gather in person again. In the meantime, though, there are some positives that have emerged as a result of staying connected in new ways that I think are worth noting.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen our desire for human interaction and connectivity demonstrated in several creative and wonderful ways around the globe

While many of us are working from home offices, the occasional “guest appearances” of young children or family pets on our video conference screens give us glimpses into the more personal sides of our colleagues’, clients’ and peers’ lives, while offering a bit of levity and warmth during these trying times. In Switzerland, the famous Matterhorn mountain in Zermatt has been illuminated with images of different national flags to show solidarity with the countries that have been hit the hardest. In many cities, including Cork, Ireland and Rome, Italy, movies are being projected onto the sides of buildings to boost quarantined citizens’ spirts. The prompt by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles – challenging individuals to recreate famous works of art with objects they happen to have at home – is giving us some entertaining glimpses into creative innovation at work. We’ve seen countless volunteers of all ages helping to sew protective masks and deliver supplies to those most in need.

Here at Worldwide ERC®, our dedicated Duty of Care Community group continues to be a source of both information and inspiration, recently sharing news of the Foundation for Workforce Mobility’s donation of its annual Disaster Relief Fund to charity partner Family Promise, helping those who are housing insecure. The Foundation is also committed to continuing its tradition of hosting a walk to coincide with our Road to Recovery event in a few weeks – which we will now be doing across multiple days, time zones, and locations. Our YP40s are hosting a “tailgate” digital happy hour to coincide with the event, too, and have been staying connected by engaging in virtual bingo contests and Zoom sessions.

On our own team, in addition to some practices that were already in place, such as regular all-staff weekly video conferences, we’ve established a “social check-in” channel on our Slack site to encourage the sharing of non-work-related posts, thoughts and ideas. We’re posting things like inspirational stories, helpful articles, recipes, exercises, photos or motivational quotes. If I had started my role in a more traditional way, I might not know what some members of the team’s favorite “comfort go-to foods” are, or what band they heard in their first live concert. We may not be gathering in the breakroom, but we certainly haven’t lost the ability to connect with one another about more than just our daily work.

The coronavirus is a very serious and deadly threat that is gravely impacting our global economies, workplaces and lives. But what it can’t take away from us is our desire to stay connected with one another and help each other stay hopeful, resilient and strong in the face of adversity.

I look forward to continuing to “meet” and connect with many more of you in the weeks and months ahead, and encourage you to share what some of your favorite moments of resilience, helpfulness or creativity have been so far, and what you and your own teams are doing to stay connected at lshotwell@worldwideerc.org. May we all stay safe, be well, remain strong and keep connecting.

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