Living Through Crisis with Empathy - Spring2 Innovation

Living Through Crisis with Empathy

April 9, 2020

In March, I was at home sick for two-plus weeks – I’m not sure what I had, but I am grateful that I’m now feeling better. It involved two hospital visits – one for nearly passing out and a second for difficulty breathing – with no COVID-19 testing at either visit. It’s a strange time for everyone, and I feel like I have been living in a different world than many of my friends.

I can honestly say it’s been a scary few weeks, and my concerns haven’t included being bored at home or about social distancing. Some days, it’s been a struggle to just get out of bed. At the same time, as a business owner, I need to ensure business continuity and make sense of some of the current changes and figure out what the future looks like, while also taking care of kids at home who have also been sick. I now recognize that managing all of this is an impossible task.

The information shared about COVID-19 by the media and government is changing daily. When I got sick, being tired and passing out were not considered symptoms, so I was discharged quickly at my first hospital visit – which caused a ripple effect throughout different areas of my life. As we work through this trying time as a society and the many changes to our daily life, we must consider the different types of people (or personas) impacted by every decision and change. What is their new reality?

Our government is working to provide financial aid to people and organizations who are facing many different challenges or scenarios. For example, a few that immediately come to mind are those who:

  • 1. have been laid off
  • 2. are teleworking with kids at home
  • 3. are teleworking without kids at home
  • 4. continue to work at physical locations – first responders/healthcare
  • 5. continue to work at physical locations – in the service industry
  • 6. are business owners who can’t operate in this environment
  • 7. are business owners who are limited in what they can do in this environment
  • 8. are business owners who continue to work and make sense of this environment
  • 9. in a non-profit business (including charities)
  • 10. are sick (with COVID-19 or other viruses)

Each group has its own unique challenges, and this list doesn’t even cover all the different personas. Each group listed above could be subdivided into further groups depending on what specific problem is being solved. And, like me, many people may belong to multiple personas groups.

I would like to acknowledge the business owners specifically, not only because many of my friends and colleagues are business owners, but also because the decisions this group will make in the coming months will impact what our lives and economies could look like in the near and far future.

Financially, there are some relief options for a number of these groups through government funding or lending, but perhaps not enough to keep some of the businesses viable, especially considering information around the duration of the virus and the social distancing measures continues to be unknown.

Emotionally, for many people, the realization that they do need support might not happen for some time. Personally, after I recovered, I found myself in a state of shock. I was thankful for friends who checked up on me and dropped off supplies, and now as everyone in my household is starting to feel better, things are shifting. Now my focus has shifted to the task of making sure we have groceries, meals, and that my kids are learning.

As we set policies for citizens and/or our employees, and as some of us learn to work with our teams virtually and possibly learn to communicate across different channels, we need to try to keep in mind the different perspectives and realities each persona has to deal with.  They are all valid and deserve consideration to fully work through the changing reality and emerge from this crisis.

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