19 People around the World Share How They Prepare for a Post-COVID-19 World
Since its founding in 2015, impactmania always turns to the people who drive cultural, social, and economic impact. We now need their inspiration more than ever. We asked 19 impact makers how they are preparing for the new realities of a post-COVID-19 world.
impactmania emails with film producer, executive coach, and entrepreneur, Elizabeth Coffey, who has been raising funds for Indian day laborers during the current global health crisis. Coffey offered two online conferences pro-bono sharing her decades of experience in supporting women grow into leadership roles. Coffey has coached a number of women rise to chief executive roles, most notably in the male-dominated oil- and gas industries in the Middle East.
April 28, 2020
Paksy Plackis-Cheng in Berlin, Germany emailed with Liz Coffey in London, United Kingdom.
What is your advice for preparing for post-COVID-19?
Working from home and virtual meetings will become the new normal. Working mothers – including me – pioneered these patterns over the past 25 years. While I’ve learned to keep the virtual office as quiet and professional as possible, we are all getting used to seeing folks working from their kitchen tables, now, with cats, dogs, babies and children making unexpected appearances onscreen.
It has humanized the work space in many ways, and given people the commuting time back for home chores and family activities, which has been fabulous. I know that some people find the lack of separation between work and home difficult. I’ve been working remotely for years, since I’ve been traveling about 50 percent of each month for my job, so I’m used to it. Clients have confided that the 24 hour proximity to family has made them long for the office. A very amusing client commented: “I will never be able to retire from being in a work place. Even if I’m no longer adding ANY VALUE, I will need to be driven to some kind of a work environment—even if it’s just me and a carer in the office, look at the walls and mumble, and then be driven home again. Big lesson!!”
I’m very fortunate that my son and I get on really well – we amuse and look after each other, which is a big blessing during these stressful times.
How is this crisis changing you?
As a single parent, I’ve always had help in the home to allow me the freedom to do my job. My son and I are missing our housekeeper enormously; for the last 15 years, she has enabled me to focus on my work full time and to travel abroad, when work has required that.
Now, we are doing all the household chores in addition to our normal work. Most of my clients are very senior leaders, who are managing their businesses through the stresses of this crisis, so I’ve been super busy. These extra responsibilities stretch my already client-full timetable to tipping and ripping point. I’ve dialed back my expectations about household standards: the ironing and dusting have been put on hold until our lovely housekeeper returns.
The lift/elevator in our 100 year old building broke down right before lockdown, so we have been forced to carry all our groceries up five flights of stairs, each day. On a bad day, that is my 200 steps of exercise. I’ve discovered how immensely satisfying it is to walk with bare feet on a freshly self-mopped kitchen floor. My son has realized that, when push comes to shove, I actually can cook some delicious dishes! I’m trying to remember to water the plants at sensible intervals, praying they will survive COVID-19. The rocketing statistics about domestic violence and divorce rates contrast sharply with the ‘happy families’ stories about dads crafting with their children. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the health of our relationships have magnified and polarized as a result of being locked indoors with family or flatmates 24/7 for weeks on end. Cracks in a strained relationship have become chasms and love and creativity have blossomed, where the base was strong before.
My brother runs one of New York’s emergency rooms, which he described as a war zone during this crisis. We’ve all moved from seeing soldiers as our front line workers to clapping for our brave healthcare workers, our courageous supermarket and pharmacy workers, our dedicated police and public transportation workers as they face into this deadly illness each day on our behalf. So very grateful to them all!
What will our story be post-COVID-19?
I have found the stories of global collaboration in science and engineering so heartening, as we’ve raced to gear up for this fight. Chinese scientists are flying to Italy to share their knowledge of containing the virus. Automotive and aerospace companies are pivoting to churn out ventilators. High street clothing brands are repurposing to sew protective masks and gowns. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could hold onto this barrier-free humanity, going forward? People continuing to help other people across the world?
I love that artists, musicians and cultural institutions all over the world have been putting their work online for free to uplift us, to entertain and to share inspiring beauty with others. This generosity of spirit creates a virtual global art community and elevates us beyond this challenging moment. How can we nurture these instincts, after lockdown finishes?
Mother Earth is replenishing herself at remarkable speed, now that we are leaving her alone. The air is fresher, the water purer, animals are venturing into our villages, towns, and cities in a charming way. Magnificent lessons are here for us; how can we shift our ways of life to enable more of this, when ‘peacetime’ returns?
Many of us have realized how lucky we are, confronted by images of those in dire need. India’s daily wage earners have been pushed to starvation by [India’s Prime Minister] Modi’s sudden lockdown announcement. Almost every Indian I know volunteered immediately to get these folks food and essential medicines, and those efforts continue. The scale of the task is enormous, but the power of that instinctive collective positive response is magical. How can we treasure and leverage this for the good of humankind, when normalcy reigns again?
While there are many horrific consequences of this strange pandemic, it has also brought us so many extraordinary and unexpected gifts. Let’s make sure we hold onto those learnings and extend, deepen and enrich those benefits, walking together into our future.
impactmania’s past interviews and programs have been featured in international media, a number of universities, the UN, US Consulates, and have been cited by Harvard Business School, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and Duke University Press. impactmania’s Women of Impact program was awarded the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy grant (2019).