For the RemoteAid event on 20apr2020, I was honored to be the closing speaker. The full session is recorded below, but the topic and setting were unusual, so it feels important to give some context.
Obviously, there was plenty of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic as a health concern – various national lockdowns and closures were just starting to happen. Day by day news was startling, with new outbreaks and closures globally. In turn, this was causing a large downturn in economies across the world, with people losing their jobs and many businesses closing permanently.
Under the circumstances, it felt important to remind people of a different perspective that I thought might be empowering and helpful.
The attendees were already comfortable working online, in distributed-teams, so I focused on how they could use their existing proven skills to help others and at the same time also help revive their local economy.
The “easy, familiar ways of working online” may not be so obvious to others who don’t routinely work that way. So, I asked attendees to help others.
It can feel uncomfortable at first to leave a familiar echo chamber, where most others you talk with are also already comfortable working online – just like you do. Instead, I asked people to go find people and businesses in their own hyper local neighborhood who they might not typically interact with and ask them how you can help. Help them learn the personal and business skills they need to survive in these challenging times. Showing teachers how to suddenly teach classes online – after years to only teaching in-person – and brainstorming some practical local ideas to help improve internet connectivity for any of their students left out by the digital divide. Helping a neighbor doctor understand how to use the new buggy tele-medicine applications foisted on them at short notice. Helping a local sandwich shop start taking online orders and online payments. Coordinating online food deliveries to vulnerable groups under lockdown who can no longer go shopping for themselves, yet have no experience of how to safely shop online. Explaining secure online payments and how to avoid scams. Explaining security essentials. Explain how to use video software to connect and talk with family members elsewhere. Answering these, and a 1,001 other questions like these, is an immediately practical way to help a struggling neighbor or neighborhood business.
Yes, these are challenging times – personally and professionally – for us all. Its important that those of us who already routinely work online use our existing skills to help others who are not yet comfortable online. We can use these skills to bring practical immediate help to our local communities and help rebuild each of our local economies.
The RemoteAid event was quickly setup, as an online fundraiser for Red Cross, when the organizers cancelled their RunningRemote conference because of COVID-19. Nice, fast turnaround work by Egor, Danny and the rest of the group for putting this event together, so professionally and so quickly in such short notice.