Random Thoughts From My Quarantine

As I type this opener, I’ve snuck out of my house to a secluded bench in East Dallas near the lake I love. It’s a beautiful spring day that would normally have the bike and running path filled with attempted fitness seekers like myself. Picnics should be occurring at the Arboretum, and the Farmer’s Market should be filled with people fellowshipping together.

It’s just not the case.

Nearly a million people filed for unemployment this week. The paths have people but significantly less. Those here are still pretending like the virus won’t get them. People in the grocery store earlier were joking that there was nothing to this six-foot rule bit. We are collectively pushing past each other in public because the people who have the virus are all named Not Me.

The first week of quarantine I was a mess. Elizabeth and I were all alone because the kids were with other parents, so we just worked silently and watched TV in our sweats every spare second. I had a full-on breakdown last weekend because I wondered how many shoes were going to drop. When would I be able to hug my kids again? Would I be allowed to hug anyone other than people I didn’t live with? How safe are my parents and loved ones?

Yet I didn’t want to freak anyone out. So I just kept it in.

I have a team that is looking to me to make sure we still have clients to bill to. My kids are worried about me living in a city so filled with infections. Plenty of friends and colleagues who were acting like it was nothing and we should all just go back to work. Oh, and I’m in my second month of marriage. If we had planned the big date and move for the spring when the weather was nicer, I would have done all this living alone and going out of my mind.

So many around me I wanted to be strong for, and I just couldn’t hold out any longer. A meltdown ensued where I didn’t want to get out of bed or talk to anyone. My parents and brother hadn’t heard from me in a bit and were a little concerned. It was all I could do to just call my kids and smile as I asked them how they felt about COVID-19.

If you spoke to me, got a text from, or read a tweet from me…I was faking it hardcore.

While the entire internet is emptying their evergreen content archives, I’m inundated with lists of movies I should be watching. Books I should be reading. Home workouts I should be doing. Like I have time for that.

All we have each other to look at, and less of our own space to explore. What am I going to do with all this free time? I don’t have any of it anymore. Just billable work, family work, cooking, cleaning, and if I have decent weather I go for a walk.

The worries pile on the more we have time to think. So I thought I would explore some ideas here if you will indulge me.

Is this the start of increased remote work?

Many of the top software engineers I’ve worked with have said we should be allowed to work remotely for years. Often, leaders dismiss it as the grousing of entitled introverts. I’ll tell you this though. They don’t look so silly now, do they? Probably the most productive people working today are those who have explored how to work this way.

I’d argue many companies will see the value of this and start exploring it more.

Why should they invest in the brick and mortar buildings to house people when they will happily invest in their own workspace on their own dime? Internet providers are most likely forced to offer higher bandwidth for a more affordable price now, and we may see it stay that way. If I can get as much done, with less commute and risk to infection, why would companies make us go back to a more expensive way to deliver solutions?

This could, of course, be temporary. We may go back to big offices, and our big room planning events. There’s a good chance they all won’t, though.

Are we reaching a tipping point with coaching?

It’s funny because for years we’ve wondered when the bubble would burst on this whole “agile coaching” thing. Coming to client offices to watch daily planning events seems like an overly simplistic view of our work, but the virtualization of things may expose some of our industry as fools gold.

We are having to respond in a way we’ve never had to before. What does that mean for the future of working with teams, programs, and clients?

I’ve been working on my remote facilitation chops. Researching applications like Mural, Weave, and others. Reading the opinions of those printing virtual training guidance. If more of our work is moving to a virtual world, I think we should respond.

Don’t use this as an opportunity to say it won’t work. It’s not preferable. Neither is building teams spread across five timezones, and I’m fighting with leaders who want to do that because they won’t listen to research or studies.

None of this is preferable, but this time is testing our collective resolve like no other. We have to find a way to be adaptable.

How do I know what else I’m missing from my pallette during this time?

Is there a DISC evaluation of my skills in a virtual world? The team I work with has spent some hours on seeking our blind spots during this time, but is that enough to identify what else I need to improve?

Wondering what you have needed to up your game during this virtualized time. Maybe we could do some practice sessions to play with some virtual workshops. The exercise would definitely keep me sharp, and perhaps reveal some other areas of improvement.

That said, I feel overwhelmed by all the virtual social gatherings I’m invited to these days. Suggesting another one may make you feel the same way. I can’t tell.

These are just some of the things noodling around my head as I jump from one WebEx to another while creating yet another deck. I would love to hear some of your random thoughts if you would like to share as well.

Please know you’re not alone in your random thoughts. You are not going crazy. Maybe stir crazy, but aren’t we all. And if you want, come join the convo with us at Agile Uprising. We are also providing plenty of audio to laugh at.

Be well, and stay safe!


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