This is an incredibly challenging time for our country and the world. As young professionals, we likely find ourselves especially challenged as we try to complete a day of work from home with young children demanding our attention, and as we find spouses and significant others as our new “coworkers.”
While many of us in the legal field, unlike those in other industries, are lucky to be able to work from home, it is natural to find the experience challenging and demoralizing as billing and deadline requirements, once easily met, become untenable. It is important that we validate the frustrations we are experiencing while simultaneously thinking about those who are experiencing a very different struggle, sometimes in our own office, but always in our greater community. This is another example of where a grand, sweeping cure-all gesture is unlikely, but there are so many small things you can do as a young professional in this environment to help those who are struggling in ways different than you are.
First of all, be kind. No matter how adversarial litigation or a business deal has become, remember the person on the other side of the line asking for that extension might be immunocompromised, might have a spouse in emergency medicine, might have a sick parent or child they don’t know how to care for in this difficult time. This is the time to agree to the extension, the accommodation, the early-morning or late-night conference call. This is also the time to stay home if you can and to avoid exposure to some of your colleagues, who might even be higher risk but just can’t seem to stay out of the office.
If you are a young professional who is a supervisor, email to schedule calls instead of just calling employees so that they can balance their other demands and find the best time to address your issues. Now, instead of balancing schedules, meeting room availability, employees have children’s nap times and other demands to consider. Give your employees the ability to get into the headspace to best address your concerns. Be understanding of the fact that not everyone knows how to “zoom” and that adjusting to working from home is harder for some people, or generations, than it is for others. Opt for the conference call instead of the online meeting if that makes everyone feel more comfortable.
Be on the lookout for neighbors and colleagues who might need some extra assistance. Think about people in your office who might have more difficulty with telework because of their job requirements and find projects they can help you with. Ask an elderly neighbor if they need anything before you go to the grocery store to save them the trip. Offer to help an older neighbor or coworker with an online grocery order. Be on the lookout for projects in your community to help people and small businesses during this difficult time.
In my last post, I wrote about the Baltimore Hunger Project, one of many organizations helping people in Baltimore and Baltimore County with food instability that has stepped up during this time. The Associated Jewish Charities, Jewish Volunteer Connection, Catholic Charities and many other organizations also have fantastic projects highlighted on their websites; you can both donate items and participate in service projects with your kids, family, colleagues and others from home.
Thank one another and wish one another well. People are handling this uncertainty differently and the more you can try to manage small gestures to make it easier for one another, the better the experience will be for everyone. Stay well and thank you for helping to keep us all safe and healthy.