The Pandemic of COVID-19 is changing the world, forever. There are the horrible things More importantly there are opportunities for good. As Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers … because if you look for the helpers you will know there is hope. I have posted in multiple places, “Be the helper when you can. Be the helped when you need. You can do both at the same time.” Yes, there are financial impacts of what is occurring. That is important and I hope that everyone can manage. I have seen some companies do unexpected things at this time, such as paying people during shutdowns for social distancing. There are changes in telecommuting policies that people are learning to adjust to. I have been barred from going into the office for 14 days as I took a Caribbean cruise which my employer approved before I left, well things changed quickly. This massive change in communications is where we, the AV community, have the chance to be Helpers. We can help people communicate. We have talked about some of these topics on previous podcast episodes, AVSocial 56: Good AV Is Contagious and AVWeek 447: Coronavirus & AV
I work at a large company that has many IT people and various communication platforms available. That does not mean that people know about all of them or how to use them. In speaking with a coworker today, we realized that for my position of the company I have the most experience, internally, setting up and hosting large online meetings specifically with our equipment and people and systems. I know the pitfalls and processes of the online tools we use at the office. (I don’t speak for my employer; this is a parable.). I expect people will make mistakes, and I know which mistakes are common for my company’s systems. In case you are curious, it is knowing how to switch which camera is active on devices with front and back cameras.
To many of “us”, the AV professionals or nerds, solving this problem is relatively easy. Now picture someone who typically doesn’t host online meetings, much less from their house. There are people waiting for you to speak and your rear camera is showing your Lego Minifigures and the mess in your office. That situation makes most people nervous and stressed. I helped walk the person through the process quickly via phone call without being asked. I saw that someone needed help, I became the helper. At the same time, they were helping me by reducing my concerns about the next few weeks at work. It was about helping people communicate.
That is what we can do. We can help people communicate and feel comfortable doing it, feel confident. It is not the time to look for a business opportunity, it is a time to be a helper to spread hope.
We can start thinking about how this is happening at work. Think about how much stress there is for people, no one wants to look inept at something in front of their coworkers. Explaining what each button on the software/hardware does not always help people understand. Instead ask what they are trying to do, help them learn to do that, not explain everything. Being able to speak to someone in their language, vernacular, and idioms is a huge plus. Someone on what of the meetings I was having online today said, “Why can’t this be like FaceTime?” They want to be able to click the contact and then start the call from the contact. I explained how to do that with our system, it was simply a user interface problem. Once they got to a view they understood, they were off and running.
Do not discount this story as another operator error issue. It was an operator had never used the product that way before situation. Remember driving a car for the first time? Probably similar feelings.
Also do not discount the importance of this knowledge is for people. They now can communicate with people outside of their house or quarantine area. It allows them to try to get some contact with others, even if it is just chatting. I explained how people can just leave the system on if they wanted in a meeting room so they could talk to each other like they were in cubes. It helps them feel at ease. It takes one more piece of stress out of this stressful situation.
There is the chance that helper turns into hero. These same people may be trying to use telemedicine for the first time soon. People being comfortable using video conferencing technology will have a major impact on telemedicine success rate. That can have some heroic effects.
“We can be heroes, just for one day.” – David Bowie