Greetings from Washington, D.C.
Many of you know that I have just returned from Orlando, Florida where I attended Podfest Expo, a family-like gathering of podcasters from all across the U.S. We greeted one another with elbow-bumps and washed our hands frequently.
It was at Podfest that I first heard the term social distancing. And now, three days home, I see that the term is trending sky high on social media. Since my trip concluded, scores of colleges and universities have, for the next two or three weeks, pivoted instruction to online platforms. My daughter, who is home for spring break, doesn’t know when she may return to her campus; anticipating the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus through the community, professors loaded her up with homework assignments.
Public schools across the country are also preparing a pivot to temporary online instruction.
People who work at office locations are already affected. Many of my friends report that they are on telework for the foreseeable future. And, I have suspended face-to-face podcast interviews; until further notice, we will record our Tightrope guest segments by phone and over Skype.
From a standpoint of professional and interpersonal engagement, we are all in uncharted territory.
One cannot say for sure how daily interaction will change. But it would not surprise me if, once the virus is in retreat or contained, some of our newly adopted behaviors become permanent.
My intuition tells me that the handshake, the ages old act that introduces two people and binds their transactions to closure, may go the way of the Dodo Bird. The Future of Work will be determined by such changes.
Social distancing will evolve interpersonal communication. But when that happens, how will we pick up cues from others? Also, how will we display professional behavior if we can’t shake on it? We just don’t know.
But this I do know. Once the outbreak has subsided, we will figure out how to engage with each other in a way that makes the future of work wonderful. Until then, please follow the advice of my 95-year-old aunt to wash your hands well and keep your distance.
Our best days lie ahead.
Please catch up on our latest episode of The Tightrope Podcast with guest Natalie Pryce of Pryceless Consulting. We discuss how she overcame great odds to become a successful career coach for disengaged workforce members.
DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Meaningful Work Podcast. Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics.
Photo credits: Screen shot, Young Frankenstein, 1974, 20th Century Fox; Handshake, iStock Photo.