Most business leaders tell me, “People are our greatest asset.” They promptly follow that up with a confident, “Teamwork is a ten out of ten” when they rank its importance in the workplace. Like me, you probably agree with both statements. You will also agree that our teams are at their strongest when they are gathered. So, what happens when we are separated; mandated to “distance”?
We have been distanced from co-workers, family members, and friends. Many of us have even become parttime school teachers while our children learn from home – distanced from their schoolmates. The negative impact of COVID-19 is being felt in workplace as well as the home front. We are “social” creatures who have been socially distanced.
The CDC recommended three essential steps to fighting the spread of COVID-19. Washing our hands and wearing a mask were certainly easier to adjust to then the third step – distancing. This has had the most significant impacts on our business colleagues and our family members but true damage is yet to be felt.
According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The action we took was distancing. The equal and opposite reaction is the emotional toll that is already being experienced around the world – the short-term symptoms and long-term effects of socially distancing people – the greatest asset in our businesses.
The entire workforce, with little to no preparation, went full scale into remote working status. According to Gallup, we reached “62% in mid-April.” Businesses succeeded in distancing their people, in a world of chaos, uncertainty, and conflicting information. We did a stellar job of going “remote” but most businesses are illequipped to bring their people back together the right way.
The short-term effects, like low morale, a lack of accountability, poor communication, ineffective delegation, and subpar performance are already being felt. Even professional athletes have struggled to perform when they have been distanced from their fans. Just watch any sporting event and you will see cardboard cutouts and video screens in the seats, to put a Band-Aid on the problem of distancing.
If professionally trained, highly paid athletes are feeling the impact, how can our teams not be? They are. When I ask business leaders how they are preparing their people for the return to a new form of normalcy; to help bring people back to a productive and energetic workplace, they default to the vaccine – the hope that their teams will be okay!
The vaccine is not the solution for social distancing. It will only fight the virus, not the harmful psychological effects of distancing. In fact, I am predicting the dismantling of even the strongest teams, once the vaccine is fully distributed.
When a treaty is signed to end a war, it may stop the fighting but not the battle waged within. Just as the end of a tour of duty does not remove PTSD from a service member, the vaccine will not provide a solution for the symptoms and side effects of distancing.
Even “Big Pharma” announces the horrific side effects caused from the drugs they market on television commercials – dizziness, depression, and death – just to name a few. But we have heard nothing about the impact of separating our people. Fear not! I have The CURE for SOCIAL Distancing and I will be administering doses each month, that can be used in the workplace and in your home.