How social distancing can bring us closer together

Posted 04/06/20 Team Vaco

“Nothing is insurmountable anymore. All of this may even bring more personal connection back into our lives.”

— Kim Wainwright

We first started considering the different ways that social distancing can bring us closer together a couple of weeks ago, after speaking with Kim Wainwright, managing director of Vaco’s Direct Hire Practice, and Meagan Krift, division director for Vaco Financial. Even as we were discussing the incredible challenges that many of her clients were facing, Kim’s comment sparked hope and optimism.

Since then, we’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting — as individuals, as members of the Vaco family, and as human beings — about where we were just a few months ago and how we can come through this global challenge stronger and more deeply connected than ever before.

To say that the past few weeks have been challenging would be a laughable understatement. Through it all, though, we’ve found ourselves returning to the ideas of social responsibility, our duty to the greater good over our individual desires, our craving for human connection, and the path to kindness and compassion. 

How can social distancing bring us closer together? We won’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are a few positive changes we just might see in the coming weeks and months.

Connecting in new ways

The Atlantic recently published a wonderful article, “The Art of Socializing During a Quarantine,” and we can’t recommend it highly enough. In it, Joe Pinsker writes, “People probably won’t have much trouble remembering to stay in touch with their best friends while stuck at home, but less-regular catch-ups—such as occasional lunches with co-workers or bumping into an acquaintance at a coffee shop—are more at risk of falling by the wayside, because they’re often impromptu.” 

In a culture where we’re just as likely to pop into a colleague’s office for a quick chat or to grab a snack over a brainstorming session, it’s important to make time for these kinds of informal conversations. We just have to be a little more formal about it! Whether it’s 15-minute check-ins throughout the day, virtual coffee breaks, or online lunch and learns, we’re discovering new ways to stay connected.

We’ve found that even in fields where the work is pretty solitary — like accounting and finance, for example — maintaining relationships and a personal connection to one another is important. 

Where once a phone call may have sufficed, many of Vaco’s consultants are making time for video calls, and we’ve been encouraging our business partners to do the same. “I think seeing your clients, making sure you have that human connection and are keeping that human engagement up via video is so important right now,” says Meagan Krift. 

Wendy Patrick in Psychology Today notes that “Being ordered to isolate makes us crave company even more, because in-person chemistry has become a scarce commodity.  Thankfully, sheltering in place does not mean dropping off the grid. We can still be social while social distancing,” 

Leading with compassion

It’s funny, but the things that were a really big deal a few weeks ago may not seem so pressing today. As priorities shift, we’re finding out what really matters to us. 

And what matters is compassionately building relationships and moving forward together. As the world rapidly changes, we can only benefit from assuming positive intent and leading with compassion. When we act with compassion and with an “others’ first” mindset, we’re building relationships based on a shared sense of humanity and trust. 

If you work in a world where time is measured in five-minute increments, put that aside. Instead, spend those five or ten minutes checking in with people at the start of a meeting, lead an open brainstorming session, conduct a company-wide town hall. Whatever you do, take some time to create a space for your team and your clients to reflect and share.

Supporting others (or, the power of listening)

On March 22, CBS News’ Lee Cowan offered his thoughts on what changes have been brought to our lives by the coronavirus outbreak. It’s a lovely little segment, and you should watch it if you have two minutes to spare.

In it, Cowan notes, “In all this separation, we are still connected by what our better angels are whispering. We truly have to go out of our way to be uncaring in these uncertain times. For once, the road to kindness and compassion is the easier one.”

“What we do is relationship-centric. And right now, we need to be humans first. Everything else is secondary. So what I can do is be there,” says Vaco’s Meagan Krift. 

Be curious! Let people know that you’re genuinely interested in what they’re saying and ask thoughtful questions. Listening mindfully and being fully present in every conversation is something we and everyone across the world can do. Listen, repeat, ask questions, and engage. 

We’re in this together. As we find creative solutions to keep our clients’ operations moving forward and we turn to our colleagues for advice and insight, we’re reminded of how lucky we are to be a part of a team. Don’t forget that you’re part of the Vaco family, too! Please join our online Working From Home Wellness program as we find ways to make our Working From Home lifestyle more productive and enjoyable. 
One last thing: we’d love to hear from you. What are you doing to stay connected while social distancing? Let us know how you’re doing. Contact us online or email us at marketing@vaco.com.