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COVID-19 – Impact, Working from Home Tips and some Thoughts on the Mass Hysteria

The world has lost its proverbial you know what! We are living through a historic event, triggered by the fear of the unknown. That unknown is the COVID-19 coronavirus. It’s caused mass hysteria all around the world the likes of which recent generations haven’t really experienced. Societies general reaction to this has been concerning… and for the first time in my life, I have let myself have legitimate concerns for the short term future. Its direct impact on the developed worlds fundamentals as to what it is to be part of a global society has been well and truly shaken. Markets are tumbling, industry threatened and there has been direct hits to peoples work lives through restrictions put on job function due to fears of the spread of the virus which is driven more by litigation as much as the general health concern.

I’m clearly not a virologist or a medical expert, but I’ve been reading and trying to absorb as much levelled scientific information as I can get my hands on to better understand what is currently taking place. I don’t for believe that there has been a complete over reaction to the COVID-19 situation, however there is no doubt that the media has had a massive part to play in spreading the fear quicker than that actual rate of transmission. The other reality of this is that we live with Pandemics running wild in the global population daily… and have done for generations. You only need to look up statistics about AIDS and other highly impactful disease to realise that outbreaks such as these are all part of being human and living in this highly connected global population.

“…fear of the virus has proven to be far more contagious than the virus itself and has led to significant social disruption through panic buying.”

What that has meant, in terms of world wide impact is significant and not one person is going to be unaffected by this situation now. Besides all the upheaval on the stock markets, from a work point of view, as like many industries, the IT Industry has been significantly impacted. This is because (like all sales based industries) close proximity human interaction is critical to the spreading of the virus and when you get a large group of people together the chances of infection dramatically increases. Add to that the potential around legal liability for safe workplaces and we have seen an unprecedented halt to international and domestic air travel as well as most medium to large IT events and conferences being converted to virtual events, postpones or in most cases, cancelled for the year.

Impact to My Role

I love what I do and I love my role at Veeam. It allows me to get out and visit customers and partners, talk at events all around the world all while evangelising what we do and why we do it better than competitors. My role is similar to those in almost every major software/hardware company around the world. Every day there are people like me traveling to all parts of the globe to do what we do. Having a hard stop to that for the short term is something I think we are all getting a custom to. I’ve personally had to cancel three trips and won’t be attending five events. That’s a lot of preparation time lost, and also disappointing personally to not be doing what I do best while at those events.

Like many who are in the same boat, I believe that this is just a temporary situation and the longer term impact to my day to day will (should) be minimal once everything settles down. I do see this as a positive in a way because for the past three and a half years I have been on the road approximately 35% of the time, which is a lot of time away from my family. I’ve not actually travelled since late January, so there is some novelty around actually being home for longer than three weeks… but the notion of having to not do any major travel for at least another seven to ten weeks has me a little down if I’m totally honest. Again, this is all about my job satisfaction… again, I love what I do!

Looking at the reactions by major vendors like AWS, Google and Microsoft, it’s clear that it is not just remote road warriors that are impacted. In a lot of cases whole offices have been told to work home… a change which some people might struggle with.

Working from Home

I’ve been working from home now since joining Veeam in October of 2016, and after my first year of working from home I wrote this post. I’m not going to go over what I wrote in detail but having re-read it today it still holds very true. For those that have been forced into a WFH situation, it’s worth a read. In a nutshell though it’s all about discipline and set routine. This is how I find I maximize productivity while at home. It’s not something that is easily learnt, but comes with time. For those who are being forced into a WFH situation, given the temporary nature it might be difficult to train yourself before you are forced to go back to the office and be distracted again by water cooler talk and in person meetings.

Making sure you have a decent home office setup is important, but again given the temporary situation, it might not be worth fully investing into a full home office setup. But as has been discussed on social media it is a good time to leverage the technologies that we have today at our disposal that make working from home a lot easier. Meetings can still be had, and that all important virtual human touch point can be maintained. In fact if there is one thing I would say is important in any WFH/self isolation situation is to maintain a sense of connectivness to the outside world.

Final Thoughts, Remaining Positive and Being Constructive

Finally, what I am going to be doing during my extended stint on the sidelines at home is look to be more productive in the areas of content creation and self learning. There are a lot of projects and technologies I’ve been meaning to start on of late, and this forced period of time not at events and on the road gives me great runway to dive right in. I think that should be something that everyone in the same situation should be looking to do.

Look to better yourselves while you can… because pretty soon all this will be a period of time we look back on and wonder why it got so crazy. Again, not to downplay the historical significance of the impact, but we will work through this and come out better for the experience… there really isn’t any other alternative!

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