The COVID-19 Professional Roller Coaster

By: Gina Foster | Mar 30, 2020 |  Agile Transformation,  Leadership

An image of a roller coaster which represented the twists and turns my professional life has experienced with this virus.

For the last 18 months, I have had the honor of working on-site with a client that has become family to me. We have gone through twists and turns and have made so much progress but just as we really start to accelerate the emergency brake was pulled by COVID-19. This virus has caused so many mixed emotions, but a few that stand out are fear of the unknown, vulnerability, and anger. 

How does a virus impact our professional and personal lives to this extent? Logistically, I went from traveling almost every day of the week to being sequestered in my home with my children and husband. Sure I would work from home when I wasn’t traveling, but that was a perk and it was my choice. Now I am forced to stay within the walls of my home and I do not like this arrangement one bit. 

The emotional impact has been far worse. I have an immeasurable passion for people and want to make a difference in their lives. I absolutely love my clients and have worked hard to earn their trust and confidence.  The fear of the unknown is shaking me to my core. 

Two weeks ago, we were told we had to work remotely until early April. This news was a difficult adjustment for an organization with a strong face-to-face culture, but I knew we would adapt. Monday evening I went into reactive mode making sure all my loose ends were wrapped up on-site to ensure I was setting things up for success over the next few weeks. When I walked out that revolving door I thought to myself “will I ever have the honor of walking into this building again?” I left the parking lot with uncertainty around if/when I will return and asking myself, “will I see the clients that have become my work family again? Will some of them lose their jobs? Will I lose my job? What will happen to my company?” 

As questions like these raced through my mind, I quickly realized the list had no end and I needed to stop thinking about all the “what-if’s” and not let fear get the best of me. I am a planner, I like to be in control of my life, and realizing the situation was out of my control is when my vulnerability set in. I have no idea what tomorrow holds and I have to accept that because it is a sad fact. 

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and had an emotional breakdown. I told myself there’s nothing I can do to control the outcome of this situation so I need to focus on what I can do. I wiped my tears, thanked God that my family is healthy, and started to virtualize my job as much as I could. Maintaining client relationships is my main priority so I committed to contacting them daily to ask how they are doing, and not just talk about work. In times like these, it is so important to be human and show compassion more than you usually do. I cannot tell you how much my clients have appreciated my simple texts asking “how are you and your family?” 

Wednesday was a shitty day to say the least. This was the day we were informed that our work at my client site would be on pause until further notice. I cannot describe the emotions that ran through my body as I watched the faces of my work family take this terrible news. I could see the panic and felt the uncertainty of the unknown escalate to a whole new level. While we are a strong team, we’ve built strong relationships with our clients, and we will rise above this virus–but for now we all await the dreaded…. what’s next.  

Right now, I am angry that all of the work that I have put into our client’s agility journey has been derailed temporarily. This is not the way this engagement was supposed to end. We are supposed to celebrate working ourselves out of a job because that means we did our job and our client is self-sustaining. While this isn’t the case now, I’m still working actively to make sure this isn’t the case in the future. I am still very present and I am going above and beyond to make my work visible and continue to add value to my clients journey!

While we do not have an end in-sight and our world is still careening on the COVID-19 roller coaster, the virus and disease it causes cannot steal who we are as people. Let’s take care of one another and support each other to the best of our ability. I challenge you to think about how you are best supporting your clients during this challenging time. Because together, we will get off this ride. #nobodyworksalone

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