Like all of you, we have been watching the COVID-19 situation closely and reflecting on its impact on our employees, our practice, and the communities and clients with whom we get to work.

We draw on two Improve Group assets for our response: our access to technology and our Community-Responsive Approach. This approach guides us to think creatively about the realities of the communities in which we are working and what are the best ways to balance access, engagement, and safety. We pride ourselves on our ability to listen; be thoughtful; and plan ways to adapt to communities’ contexts and needs. COVID-19 requires us to adapt in order to protect our top priority: the health and safety of our staff and the people with whom we work.

With that in mind, here are some considerations we’re taking into account that could be helpful for you, too:

  • Make space for people to reflect and process before going into planning mode. For example, at our most recent virtual staff meeting, we went around and shared our current state of mind before diving into logistics.
  • Create intentional opportunities for social connectedness and joy. We moved a previously planned happy hour to a virtual format and scheduled twice-weekly optional staff check-ins using Zoom to see each other’s faces and mitigate the lack of day-to-day interaction. Cameos from staff pets embed great joy into our meetings!
  • Assess which technology is best for which circumstances. We are also being mindful that moving things online does not just mean changing the meeting location; there are proven practices for engaging people and helping to build connections in the virtual environment.

What else are we doing differently? Working from home and proactively strategizing around the challenges this raises; moving in-person engagements to virtual modes; and reaching out to current clients to consider the implications to projects—we know there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution and want to have these conversations with clients individually.

We know that with new data coming out every day, our strategies will continue to evolve.

Finally, many of our staff have shared feelings of anxiety, distraction, and unease about this situation. We have been inspired by the resources being shared for mental wellbeing and supporting each other in this uncertain time—and will share these on our Facebook page as we find them. Today we also want to share helpful resources from the CDC and the American Psychological Association, both of which provide strategies for protecting your mental health and coping with this situation.