What does work productivity look like during a pandemic?

For a story she wrote for Technical.ly (which you should read), my colleague Paige Gross asked me what I thought of work productivity during this disruption. I gave her a long answer, which she helpfully trimmed for her piece.

If interested, below I shared my stream of consciousness response to her at midnight 🙂

At a time of such sustained, unrelenting and universal disruption, it’s silly to think anyone is going to work the same way they did before. I don’t think I see it as more or less productive exactly, though, because everything is just so different.

It’s an important time to remind ourselves that companies are made of people, and companies were always meant to serve people, not the other way around. I am a person; I get bummed and scared and stressed, so of course I assume my coworkers do too. When I actually ask them how they’re feeling, turns out they get bummed and scared and stressed too. It saps my strength. It must sap theirs too.

But I also surround myself with professionals, professionals whom I know are interested in the work we do exactly because it’s important. So amidst the pain, there are moments of uplift. For us, we’re scrambling to find new ways that our journalism can help people keep their companies afloat; of how we can bring our community together to use their skills for good. That’s inspiring.

So do I think everyone on my team is, like, going to answer emails more efficiently ever, or be hovering over Slack waiting for me to DM every minute of the work day? No. That’s never realistic, so it certainly isn’t now. Walks are always important. Calling your sister, or giving yourself quiet time is always important too. So that stuff is certainly more important now.

Confronted with trauma, do I think many of us will also figure out how to help others in a cleverer way than we would have back in February? Yes. Do I think we’ll be even more focused on our impact than we were in February? Yes. Is that more or less productive? I don’t know. We’re humans.

Efficiency for us really shouldn’t be about emails sent or widget output, but rather about number of problems solved. Crisis is a time of creation. Fear authors invention. Hire people you trust. Give them a reason to believe the work is worth doing. Assume they’re doing the best they can given the legendarily fucked moment we are in together.

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