Today’s world feels foreign to me. There’s so much fear and uncertainty about the future. The social distancing guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus and efforts to flatten the curve have turned the world upside down and I’ve felt like I’ve been living inside an episode of The Twilight Zone for the last couple of weeks. The economic impact of this pandemic is likely to be felt for years to come.
There is so much information at our fingertips at any given moment. I’m in that small age group that is old enough to remember a time before the Internet, but young enough to have grown up on computers. I’ve experienced the evolution of the world wide web, and I fancy myself saavy when it comes to being able to detect clickbait headlines, satire websites, memes with made up information, and other forms of Internet fake news. I try to read facts and expert opinions from reliable sources, and then use that information to form my own opinions. This virus has been so sensationalized, though, and there are so many varying “expert opinions” that it’s tough to filter it all.
Based on what I’ve read, this virus is highly contagious and it is going to impact a very large number more people before we develop any sort of vaccine or herd immunity. While older people and those who suffer from pre-existing conditions are more at-risk to struggle significantly with the symptoms, there are recorded cases of people who are otherwise healthy and have died from this. It’s a bleak thing to think about all of the negatives surrounding COVID-19, and it’s hard to read about the exponential daily growth of cases and deaths around the world without focusing on the negative. It’s a serious thing, and we should not minimize the importance of taking appropriate precautions to slow the spread of the virus so that our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.
Having said all that, there’s also an opportunity to see the good. It isn’t healthy to have nothing but negative thoughts, and with the plethora of negativity out there right now, focusing on the good is an active choice we have to make. Choose joy.
I work for Best Buy, and have for basically my entire adult life. Best Buy is a huge company, currently ranked 53rd on the Fortune 500 with annual revenues in excess of $40 billion. There are a lot of adjectives you can normally use to describe a big company like Best Buy, but agile is not typically among them. Through their handling of the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Best Buy has displayed uncommon agility. At a corporate level, decision-making has obviously been driven by the company’s stated guiding behaviors: Be Human, Make It Real, and Think About Tomorrow.
In my opinion, a company of Best Buy’s size could not have possibly handled this situation any better than they have to this point. Very early on, it was made clear to all employees that if you were sick, the company would support you taking time off. Once schools and day cares started closing, the company began offering caregiver support options to help parents have time to figure out childcare options. When the President recommended nationwide social distancing, the company turned on a dime and changed the operating model completely.
That’s the agility I referenced earlier. In a matter of days, we created a new curbside pickup option on our website and rolled it out to every single store that’s still open. The decision was made to stay open to support our communities where it is safe to do so, but not allow customers into our stores. It’s a very fine line to walk between balancing employee/customer/community safety and running the business. With so many people being forced to work from home right now, Best Buy is the go-to place for quite a few essentials: networking equipment, computers, printers, ink, and appliances to name a few. Even the stuff I sell – the fun stuff like televisions and speakers – has become essential for some families to maintain their sanity as they can’t get out of the house like normal.
With the daily operations changing so drastically, the company obviously doesn’t need as many people here to run the store. Employees who are sick, have pre-existing conditions and are at greater risk, or don’t feel comfortable being in public have been allowed to stay at home during this time. To this point, ALL employees in the company have been paid whether working in the store or not. It was just announced today that this will continue for another 2 weeks. The investment that Best Buy is making into its people during this time shows incredible compassion and commitment, and very clearly demonstrates a willingness to put people before profit. It makes me very proud to be part of the company and gives me great confidence in my career choice.
Outside of my experience at work, I’ve drawn inspiration from friends and family as well. I have a Facebook friend who has been dealing with tremendous personal tragedy after losing 3 family members to the tornadoes that ripped through the middle of Tennessee less than a month ago. In spite of this, he is partnering with co-workers in his community to 3D print PPE for first responders and healthcare professionals. My Aunt loves the kids she works with in her Awana clubs, and has found ways to continue to reach them digitally. A friend of mine offered to help feed children whose families might not be able to afford the extra meals while school is out.
This virus will cause heartache for families who lose loved ones and hardship for families who lose jobs. It will also bring families together. As people are forced to stay home, I’ve been reading about the return of family game night. I’ve personally been able to spend more time with my wife and daughter over the past 2 weeks than I can remember doing in quite some time. Good will come out of this too.
I am a firm believer that if you consistently have a positive attitude and treat people well, that you’ll find yourself surrounded by positive people. Conversely, if you find the negative in everything, you’ll find yourself in an echo chamber with other negative people. Being positive, happy, and joyful is a choice. Look for the good, it’s not that hard to find. Choose joy.