By Dana Genson

Springtime typically signals regrowth: bright green grass, scattered rainstorms, and time spent with family provide us with a sense of renewal, of new beginnings.  It goes without saying that the Spring of 2020 has been a bit different.  Just as my children were gearing up for Spring Break, their schools, fellow students, teachers, and parents were met with a widespread school closing and a sudden migration to remote learning.  The changes didn’t end there as our modern society all experienced a collective shift towards a new normal where common physical spaces shut down and all aspects of our lives transitioned towards the virtual environment.

In the current business landscape, where COVID-19 has thrown a global wrench into all our collective plans, those that have prioritized pivoting their thinking and working on their business in order to build a culture around employee empowerment and health are the ones thriving despite the chaos.  Now is the time for leaders to broaden their business perspectives and step up to the challenge at hand, put our best foot forward, and continue to serve those around us.

While this has been on my mind since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was amplified when I learned my church would not be holding its annual Easter Sunday service this year.  That cancellation might not have come as a surprise, but what they chose to do in place of the service most certainly did.  With public safety and social distancing firmly in mind, my church provided warm meals and much-needed kindness to the members of my community without homes and to those not as fortunate as my family.  It’s this type of progressive, community-minded way of thinking that can help us all come out of this moment better prepared to make a positive, tangible difference.

At times like these, it is important to follow the adage of working on your business, not in it.  Making the shift to virtual Zoom meetings, online collaboration, and opening our minds to unique ways of managing our business processes can help us prosper in this “new normal.”

Cloud for Good has been in the business of delivering successful projects virtually for over a decade.  We’ve redefined what collaboration can look like and our clients simply aren’t missing a beat despite the upheaval of normality.  From Human Services organizations to higher education institutions, we’re seeing a deeper dive into how organizations are investing in technology to assist their missions and continue serving some of our most important and vulnerable individuals and groups.

Many institutions have faced negative setbacks, like resource furloughs and staff layoffs, as a result of the pandemic.  For those experiencing these rising issues, leaning into strategic technology implementations can help to enable their survival on the other side of this virus.  Through adaptable programs, both in-person and virtual, and flexible fundraising that can scale up as normalcy is gradually reintroduced, we’re seeing several organizations remaining proactive and adaptable to the changes inherent to our new reality.  These organizations are leaning into the new and finding ways to pivot and progress their missions gracefully despite the global challenge we all currently face in COVID-19.  Opening themselves up to new ideas and methodologies ensures they can maintain the flexibility necessary to ensure the survival of their central missions.

An inspiring rise of virtual collaboration and technological innovation has swept all manner of industries and spaces in response to COVID-19. Easterseals Michigan’s mission of changing the way the world defines and views disability through their health services has rightfully been deemed essential.  The nonprofit organization’s doors remain open with amended services and all the necessary safety precautions in place.  Face-to-face interactions have been limited, and the utilization of telehealth/telephonic services have been implemented to protect their vulnerable clientele.  Many of those that Easterseals Michigan serves day in and day out make up the most compromised groups in the midst of this pandemic; people with disabilities, those with complex medical conditions, and older adults are all at heightened risk during this time.  Not only has Easterseals Michigan taken the appropriate steps to protect their offices, employees, and those they serve, they’ve also taken steps to educate and keep their constituents informed.  Their extensive resource list provides methods to keep yourself safe, information on how their utilizing technology to further their mission, and video content built for adults and children alike, all in an effort to collaborate and connect while the outside world feels disjointed and uncertain.

The changes associated with a complete transition to a virtual environment have affected far more than just my own children.  Institutions across the globe are shifting their focus for the betterment of their students and teachers.  Since their founding in 1980, one large talent identification program has served over 3 million academically-gifted students in grades 4-12, connecting those students with vast resources and educational programs.  Now, the program has become proactive and progressive in their response to the novel coronavirus, moving classes to the virtual space, shutting down facilities to visitors, and setting up designated resources for teaching, learning, remote work, as well as a comprehensive collection of safety measures.  This shift has been facilitated greatly by their Salesforce implementation.  With an optimized Student Management System, Marketing Automation, and several other timely solutions, both students and faculty alike are supplied with a constant stream of information vital to their wellbeing.

Elsewhere, through the pursuit of progressive planning and forward-facing strategies enhanced by their Salesforce implementations, one of Cloud for Good’s technology institute partners has shifted to a new phase of maintaining their scholastic momentum.  A transition to virtual learning has facilitated creative solutions to the problems created by COVID-19, allowing them to progress their mission of promoting education and innovation.  No official decision has been made regarding access to their campus over the summer, but they’ve made sure to remain proactive in their implementation of virtual resources and experiences while their doors remain closed.  Institute departments and their faculties have been called on to step up their outreach for undergraduate programs, application deadlines have been extended, and the leadership team has worked closely with their medical branch to pool resources and provide as much information as possible to their current and future students.  It’s refreshing to witness such a devoted commitment to brightening the futures of the next generation, even when the present situation casts widespread worry and doubt.

Let us all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that this moment will not last forever.  Our economy will face challenges, our meddles will be tested, and difficult decisions will have to be made.  But we are going to get through this.  We’ve seen an incredible response from individuals and organizations assisting their local communities in any way they can.  The world will change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we all have the opportunity to make sure those changes will better our collective futures.  We will see innovative technologies, new applications of technology, and reenergized strategies for strengthening our internal processes to ensure we come out on top.  At the core of those innovations will be the very human element of empathy and connectedness.  Take this time to analyze your best practices and broaden your perspectives.  Once we successfully stop the spread of this virus, we’ll find ourselves coming out on top and ready to spring back to life, together.

Dana Genson

Dana Genson

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