23rd March 2020

Not Business as Usual


The last couple of weeks have been momentous. Most of us are now working from home and there’s no certainty on how long we might be doing so. There isn’t any roadmap for this. None of us know the eventual outcomes.

So what do we do – as entrepreneurs, investors, employees? How do we keep calm and carry on?

At Geovation we believe that people come first. It’s one of the reasons we provide coaching practice in our accelerator programme. Strengthening our sense of empathy helps us build products and services that people love. Understanding ourselves and how we relate to others help us build better businesses. I’ve found myself going through the grief cycle over the past few days: from denial, through anger, bargaining and depression to (this morning) acceptance. It’s helped me to share how I feel with my team and with other people. Allow yourself a little cry (or a shout) if that’s what you need. And when you feel ready, get back to it. We’ve got work to do.

Help yourself, before helping others

The brilliant folk at GDS have updated their “It’s OK to…” poster. It’s a great starting point if you’re wondering how you should respond to the new pressures of working remotely.

It’s OK to…

• Over communicate
• Sit somewhere that’s comfortable
• Stand
• Take breaks
• Dress up for remote meetings
• Dress down for remote meetings
• Step away from the keyboard
• Go outside for some fresh air
• Have a lunch break away from your desk
• Have lunch outside
• Have a hangout just for a chat
• Go for a run in the middle of the day
• Switch your laptop and phone off at the end of the day
• Multitask with all the browser tabs
• Focus and ignore the constant notifications
• Let people know you’re dealing with children
• Start work at the time you’d get in to the office after your commute
• Start early and finish early
• Let your pet interrupt meetings
• Let your kids interrupt meetings
• Turn your camera off
• Take more breaks than usual
• Take longer than usual for some routine tasks
• Request that someone repeats something because you stopped paying attention for a moment
• It’s OK to ask for no meetings during lunchtime
• It’s OK to decline meetings during lunch to eat with family
• It’s OK to not work an 8 hour day. Productivity, achieving the results, is what matters.
• It’s OK to not be as productive
• Connect your laptop to your TV for video conferences, for that ‘big screen’ experience.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) specific version
It’s OK to…

• Feel freaked out
• Be sad that a future event is cancelled
• Want to focus on work to avoid other thoughts
• Sleep on it
• Continue to use feedback and evidence to guide our work
• Slow down

© Nick King @twitnick / @gdsteam

Bonus Reading

The amazing @janethughes has shared her wisdom on working remotely. Check out her thread here:

Take care of business

There are no quick fixes. Things are going to be tough for startups over the next few months – and for larger organisations too.

Geovation is here to help. Our team is online, working remotely, ready to support however we can. If you drop us a line we’ll do what we can to make this easier.

For those of you working independently, let us know what we can do to help you promote your products and services.

The government has launched a raft of measures to ensure that jobs are preserved and business large and small survive this crisis. We don’t have all the details yet, but we’ll be keeping across this and will hopefully be in a better position to advise on the details soon.

I’ll be running a virtual workshop for Geovation Members on Thursday to talk about these measures and more generally on the challenges of running a business in a crisis.

We’re aiming to run at least 2 virtual workshops per week for members over the coming months covering everything from technical guidance on data visualisation to storytelling and mental health. Please do join us and stay around for a chat afterwards. Slack is the best place to connect with us all day-to-day.

Stay positive

We’re a little short on silver linings right now, but I’d like to share a couple of personal observations that are helping me get through this.

1) In general, the future is less awful than we expect it to be. Impact bias means we’re really bad at estimating our future emotional states. We’re much more emotionally resilient that we believe ourselves to be.

2) All this remote working is having a positive impact on our environment. Hopefully when we’re back to meeting and travelling again we’ll notice the clearer skies and think – maybe I could leave the car behind? It feels like we’re living through an eco-parable worthy of Hayao Miyazaki. Is it time for us the learn the lesson?

The world is still turning and we’ll be here with you for as long as it takes to get back to business as usual.

Stay safe. Stay at home…and Don’t Panic!