One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Posts Tagged ‘community

Caregiving, Empathy, and Storytelling

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Whether I am caregiving for my mother, working as a professional writer and consultant, or as a New Pulp author, one of the statements I frequently hear is some variation of “storytelling is an engine of empathy”. Regardless of my roles as caregiver/ marketing professional/or writer, I find myself dismayed that storytelling (especially digital storytelling) often gets misused as a buzzword. In the spirit of National Family Caregiver Month, I thought I would write about caregiving and storytelling.

Stories matter, both in how we identify with ourselves and each other. As caregivers, we deal with a wide variety of tragedies and triumphs while (hopefully) managing some semblance of stability. Every opportunity to share our experiences with other caregivers to find connection and understanding. However, like many organizations who have adopted “storytelling” as a buzzword, there is one key concept that often gets misunderstood:

Effective storytelling comes from a place of authenticity as well as empathy.

It is easy to use storytelling as a way to foster an ideal image, to suggest that we want to hit “key messages” with the listener or reader. Hiding behind a facade of “everything’s all right” can be easy for someone caregiving for a family member or loved one. Yet there’s something seemingly “off” when someone shares from that facade. Not sharing every negative or painful aspect of experience out of a sense of propriety is one thing; engaging in “happy talk” or expressing caregiver issues through a rose-colored view is another. As human beings, we sense when something is inauthentic, choosing to “tune out” and dismiss the narrative. We know something’s “off” and we find ourselves emotionally distancing from the storyteller. (Or worse, offering inappropriate advice and feedback to a caregiver)

Storytelling from a more authentic place allows the listener/reader to feel greater connections. One of the reasons many caregivers (including myself) avoid sharing our total stories is that reactions can often be unnecessarily dismissive. Despite the number of caregivers increasing in our country, there is still some sense of shame and feeling that something has been “lost.” For many caregivers, finding some room for adequate self-care can be difficult when dealing with extreme situations. Those stories, however, need to be heard. They’re not necessarily pleasant or optimistic, but can be a lifeline for those who need it. Sharing from that space is difficult, but can mean the world when someone feels truly heard as a result.

One example: pre-COVID, I had attended one of AARP Illinois’ caregiver gatherings. Like many other gatherings, there were people new to caregiving and confused about where to start. It was like many other AARP caregiver gatherings: small group conversation followed by sharing and open questions. During the open discussion and sharing, many caregivers discussed how they considered self-care as “pampering”. At one point, a caregiver disclosed that she never had any issues because “she turned her troubles over to God.”

Ironically, no one had bothered to offer the newcomers any advice…until it became my turn to speak. I had limited time (the woman with no caregiving issues dominated a large amount of time), but I simply spoke from the heart. This isn’t an exact transcript, but comes close to it:

“When I started caregiving for Mom, it wasn’t easy. Luckily, we worked with the social worker at her hospital to help her get a home care aide and supportive services. One of the things that helped us was contacting the Departmentsof Aging for Chicago as well as Illinois. But caregiving isn’t easy and can be overwhelming, and nobody expects us to get it perfectly. There’s going to be a lot thrown at you, but the only way to handle it is one at a time. For caregivers, self-care is a strategy and not an indulgence, and taking care of yourself is vital. I’ve learned to find comfort in my friends, but there are other resources like counseling and community groups. It’s not easy, but you will make it.”

Unfortunately, I never made it back to another session before COVID hit. But it was a good reminder for me about the power of storytelling. Professionally, I sometimes have to advise against focusing on selling a positive image to drive that mysterious quality called “engagement”. (Simply put, I avoid selling the sizzle at the expense of the steak). But the only way I have found to do that is through authenticity: seeing oneself for who one actually is and not some internal ideal. For caregivers, this is a challenge given the overwhelming nature of caregiving. It can be done, and sometimes, the reminder is very welcome.

Please comment below with your thoughts, or join the conversation on our Facebook group. If you want to reach out privately, please use this email contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Written by gordondym

November 10, 2021 at 5:22 am

Meet Your Neighbor: COOP Careers

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(Special thanks to Kalani Leifer for his time and insight)

On September 15th, COOP Careers launched their inaugural cohort of first-generation and low-income college students in Chicago after launching similar programs in Los Angeles and New York. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Kalani Leifer, Founder and CEO of COOP Careers, to learn more about the organization and its community-driven approach to workforce development.

At the start of the 2008 recession, Kalani Leifer had chosen to volunteer with Teach for America and served as a high school history teacher in New York. He was also part of a new startup high school with an initial class of 120 students. Watching students develop strong peer-to-peer relationships over time, Leifer wanted to work to ensure that these “trailblazers” were able to succeed rather than languish post-graduation. In Leifer’s view, it would be seen as a broken promise to the students, and that their hard work and dedication meant nothing.

COOP Careers was initially launched in New York in 2014 with three cohorts. With its mission around overcoming “underemployment” in first-generation and low-income college graduates through digital skills and peer connections, the organization sought out corporate partners to build out the program and fuel upward mobility. (Partnering with corporate entities like IPG Mediabrands, their programs focus around digital marketing and data analytics) Describing the growth process as “organic”, Leifer related how the first two cohorts of that year would serve as “credible messengers” and advocates within the greater community. In 2005, COOP Careers took on two alumni as coaches as they launched two new cohorts, and added a third and fourth cohort that year.

As Leifer described it, this became a form of “alumni mobilizing” as past COOP Careers participants became passionate advocates of the program. Providing referrals for potential employment, outreaching to various other community organizations, and serving as coaches for future cohorts, past participants in COOP Careers ensured that the program would thrive. As cohorts were launched in Los Angeles and San Francisco, COOP Careers continued to see its grassroots mobilization-style approach to identifying new communities and launching further cohorts.

Although COVID complicated COOP Career’s plans for a Chicago launch, Kalani Leifer indicated that it provided to be a “silver lining”. Alumni captains were able to perform their duties virtually. In many ways, the Chicago cohort followed the COOP Careers model: engaging the initial community with the idea and watching it grow and develop. Referring to COOP Careers’ approach as “grassroots mobilization” is not too far from the track, as the program works to not only train future professionals but establish and strengthen a strong peer network that can foster professional growth. As Leifer himself remarked, “Launching a career is hard; it shouldn’t be lonely.”

COOP Careers has established a firm presence in Chicago and is a well-needed resource. They’re also a neighbor worth knowing.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you want to contact the blog via email, please use this form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Raks Geek: Celebrating Pride Month With Two Events

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As Chicago prepares for reopening, Raks Geek is hoping to reengage their audience with a series of online and offline shows. Led by director Dawn Xiana Moon, the performance troupe is hoping to not only celebrate Pride Month (several members are from the LGTBQ community), but also begin to hold events that ensure the safety and health of attendees following the past year and a half.

Raks Geek - Troupe Photo
Raks Geek

First, Raks Geek will kick off the “Peek-Easy” series of performances at the Newport Theater this Friday, June 11th.

Each 45-minute show is performed in front of a limited in-person audience and designed for those looking for a responsible night of debauchery! Performing two 45-minute shows, Raks Geek will feature both live performance and digital acts focusing on belly dance, fire spinning, and other acts. In an effort to ensure safety, the Peek-Easy shows will limit their audience to fully vaccinated patrons (two weeks past their final shot) per Chicago’s “Vaccine Exemption” guidelines. Since Raks Geek features several prominent LGTBQ+ performers, their June 11th show is a great opportunity for representation and engagement. More information can be found via their Facebook event page, and tickets can be ordered via http://peekeasy.eventbrite.com.

Raks Inferno: Dawn Xiana Moon
Raks Inferno – Dawn Xiana Moon

If you are unable to attend this Friday, you can easily attend Raks Inferno: A Virtual Circus Cabaret (Pride Edition) next Friday, June 18th, at 8:00 pm streamed live via Facebook. Raks Inferno (a project of Raks Geek) focuses on belly dance, fire spinning, and other performance arts without cosplay. Part of the proceeds from the June 18th show will benefit Brave Space Alliance, Brave Space Alliance, the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ center located in the city’s south side.

As Chicago gradually reopens, it is important to remember that all groups are deserving of respect. At a time when racial attacks against Asian-Americans and homophobic and transphobic incidents are increasing nationwide, it is important to understand the need for representation, compassion, and empathy transitioning out of the pandemic. As Dawn Xiana Moon stated in an earlier interview,

Part of this starts with who controls the narrative: I firmly believe that it’s vital for underrepresented groups to get to tell our own stories. Representation matters both onstage and off, both in who’s performing in front of the audience and directing things behind the scenes.

Because we ourselves come from marginalized groups, we know how important it is to have spaces that are truly welcoming, spaces where you’re able to belong, where your full humanity is respected and loved. Honestly, because of who we are, building an inclusive community has been easy for us.

All are welcome in our home, and we’d love to have you as part of the family.

This Friday and next Friday, join Raks Geek online and offline and become part of their community.

Please leave your thoughts below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you have direct questions, contact us via this email form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

June 8, 2021 at 9:01 am

Caregiving, COVID, and Defining the “New Normal”

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Being a caregiver means having a sense of flexibility and improvisation to balancing caregiving duties, work, and self-care. Dealing with COVID-19 in the past year has been especially challenging with everyday activities being reinvented and reconsidered. As Illinois and Chicago transition with more people vaccinated (including myself), our challenge is to determine the shape of the “new normal.” Here are some suggested principles that can not only benefit caregivers but provide support for the greater community as well.

Our primary guiding principle: Other People Matter – Throughout the pandemic, there have been incidents involving people harassing mask wearers, businesses defying state orders, and even racially motivated attacks in light of the pandemic. Empathy, like compassion, is no ordinary word. After a year and a half of relative isolation and changing social dynamics, perhaps choosing to understand rather than be understood is a more realistic approach to adjusting to post-pandemic life. As our culture shifts towards caregiving across a broader population, perhaps learning to speak to caregivers empathically can be a good start towards approaching others with respect, consideration, and dignity.

Remote Work Should Always Be an Option – Regardless of what some CEOs might proclaim, remote workers are at low risk of “losing their hustle”. In fact, more companies are adopting remote work policies because they can be more effective and productive. As a remote worker myself, I find that I can more easily balance professional and personal matters. For companies who may be reluctant to adopt remote work policies, there are resources like Cultivate Now that provide consultation and insight. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I was a contract worker for Cultivate Now years ago). Managing remote teams can be challenging, but reducing the need for transportation, specific office space, and promoting worker autonomy allows for greater productivity and effectiveness for both caregivers and other employees.

And speaking of “losing the hustle”…

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Let’s Lose the “Hustle/Crushing It” Mentality – Many individuals often promote the idea of always being “in the hustle” when it comes to generating business, promoting their career, or even in life. Another well-worn cliche is the idea of “crushing it” or focusing solely on the number of accomplishments in a given day. Post-pandemic, it may be wise to consider that both “hustling” and “crushing it” are myths that need to lose their prominence. After all, it is easy for professional “hustling” to devolve into hiding, choosing to focus on the immediate to avoid introspection. Besides, caregivers are masters of the “hustle” in that they negotiate several complex networks of service providers (including health care, elder care, and social services) in order to accomplish major goals. Staying humble yet focused yields much greater rewards.

Let’s rethink how we approach family leave and other self-care resources – Although there are federal efforts to expand family leave, this should not be the only solution for caregivers and other individuals. Male caregivers, especially, are more prone to deny the emotional consequences of caregiving yet experience higher levels of depression. Taking on the stress of caregiving along with other tasks (including self-care) can be daunting and draining for many individuals. Easing access to mental health and support services (including virtual and offline support groups) can provide some comfort to caregivers at greater risk of isolation. After a year of dealing with pandemic-related issues along with caregiving matters, facilitating the use of community-based resources can assist with moving forward into a healthier future.

Let’s be honest: moving back to a old sense of “normal” is neither practical nor realistic. Our culture and everyday rituals have living were disrupted by COVID-19, and moving back towards “good enough” should not be an option. We have a great opportunity to integrate compassion and empathy into our culture after a very prolonged period of disruption and unrest. We have experienced how antisocial, disruptive, and misinformed forces have actively shredded the social fabric. Now, it’s time to begin reweaving that fabric for our community, because we’re all caregivers to each other.

Questions? Comments? Leave them in the space below. Please join the conversation on our Facebook page, or email us directly.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

May 12, 2021 at 9:26 am

Celebrating Black History Month 2021 in Chicago

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Over the years, this blog has covered organizations, businesses, and individuals working in Chicago’s black community towards social change. In the spirit of Black History Month, we’re highlighting posts around community-based social change agents. We’re also very enthusiastic about recent news concerning research into digital divide issues on Chicago’s south and west sides.

So join us as we start from the present and work our way back in our effort to highlight some great community efforts (and some critical topics) as part of our Black History Month Celebration.

June 2020 – Lighthouse Foundation

November 2019 – North Lawndale Employment Network/Sunshine Enterprises Collaboration

August 2019 – Seke Ballard/Good Tree Capital

February 2019 – E.G. Woode 

August 2018 – Chicago Cred/Pullman

May 2018 – Paschen Scholars/95th Street Red Line Work

December 2017 – Radio Islam/Net Neutrality Discussion

September 2016 – Colin Kaepernick/Social Justice

April 2016 – Prince’s Music and Social Change

February 2016 – North Lawndale Employment Network

July 2014 – Sunshine Enterprises

October 2013 – Digital Access as a Human Right

September 2012 – Imagine Englewood

Although we have featured several organizations in the past…we acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. If you want to recommend an organization for us to highlight during Black History Month, please let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page. If you wish to email us directly, please use this contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

February 3, 2021 at 7:37 am

Capitol Building: It Was An Insurrection, Not a Protest

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I’m typing this at 5:09 pm on January 6th, frustrated because I had other plans (including a celebratory Sherlock Holmes birthday post, but I’ll write that next week). After starting the afternoon watching Congress certify election results, as events unfolded, I came to a sad conclusion: What’s happening at the Capitol Building is not a protest – it’s an insurrection.

What happened at the Capitol Building was never about a “peaceful transfer of power”; it was a President’s last grasp about holding onto power at any cost. Even if doing so meant encouraging open rebellion and encouraging alt-right organizations to storm the Capitol. (Thankfully, the election certification certificates were removed and taken to a safe place).

What happened at the Capitol Building was not about “expressing the will of the people”; it was about how 13 Senators and 106 Representatives made a decision to knowingly support divisive policies. As the day went on, they were arrogant enough to decry the violence while never acknowledging their complicity in sabotaging the will of the people.

What happened at the Capitol Building was never about having personal rights “infringed” thanks to COVID-19 based lockdowns; it was precisely about imposing their rights over others. It wasn’t just that their candidate lost, but that people who were not them (nor, in some cases, shared their skin color) come out to express their voice.

What happened at the Capitol Building today was not about “expressing an opinion”; it was about ensuring dominance through fear. Nazi and Confederate flags were raised within the Capitol. Participants sat in congressional audiences, stole items, and the police just…let them. As of this writing, no charges have been filed.

What happened at the Capitol Building was not a case of “both sides are wrong”. One side wishes to focus on asserting justice and consideration for everyone; the other side hung a noose in front of the Capitol Building. Instead of learning the lessons from racial incidents over the past four years, they chose to demonize and antagonize. (Notice how last year’s Black Lives Matter protests had heavy police presence, but very little police enforcement at the Capitol Building this time around).

What happened at the Capitol Building is not something that “we’re better than.” Our overall history, including the policies of the last four years, has proven that wrong. This administration has separated children from families, demonized immigrants, engaged in destructive domestic policies, brought us to the brink of war, and mismanaged a pandemic resulting in over 300,000 Americans dying from COVID-19 on a daily basis. We’ve lost the moral high ground to a President who never had one.

I spent most of today angry, worried, concerned. Many of my friends have been affected by the President’s policies, and some have even experienced direct threats. As this country is hoping to heal and move forward, this was a pathetic attempt to scare our country into compliance. The people who stormed the Capitol Building engaged in a domestic terrorist attack, hoping to have as devastating an effect as those behind the 9/11 attacks.

This wasn’t just about “we disagree with our government”, it was “we want to destroy our government”.

In short, it wasn’t a protest at the Capitol Building, it was an insurrection.

Let’s call it what it is.

The sooner we do, the sooner we get through this.

Written by gordondym

January 6, 2021 at 5:30 pm

2020 Year in Review: Five Things I’ve Learned

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When 2020 started, I had some big plans: find more freelance and remote work, improve self-care while serving as my mother’s caregiver, and increase my non-networking social activities. Very few people could have predicted the effect that COVID-19 would have on our lives. Rearranging priorities, adapting to new modes of communication, rethinking our work and job search strategies (or for many, losing their jobs outright). As much as many other “2020 Year in Review” posts will focus on the effect of coronavirus/COVID-19 on our lives, I would like to highlight the five things that I have learned during this pandemic.

  1. I can have anything I want, but I can’t have everything I want – when I wrote a post about zen-flavored advice several years ago, it was a reminder that having goals is worthwhile, but being able to let go of goals and accept what I have at the moment is also important. This year was going to be the year that I was able to be more present in my own life…and in a way, it did, but not in the way I expected. Lockdown and social distancing have meant letting go of activities like running a coworking meetup, but they have also allowed me to focus on strengthening my current professional and personal relationships.

    Photo by Gordon Dymowski

    Photo by Gordon Dymowski

  2. Gratitude Can Be a Powerful Attitude – This past year, I was grateful for various work projects, but for really standing still and appreciating what I have. One of the greatest surprises and delights of this year was receiving a coffee mug as an impromptu gift. (There’s a long story to be told at another time). Gratitude doesn’t mean that I settle for less; it means that I am aware that despite feeling like I have nothing, I appreciate the gifts that I do have.
  3. Compassion, empathy, and respect matter, now more than ever – Even amidst the fear and concern, it is easy to forget that other people deserve consideration and courtesy. With many families affected financially, emotionally, and physically by the virus, showing people a modicum of respect and compassion through wearing a mask can be powerful. (I know four people who have had COVID, and one who had family members affected by the virus). In a year that served as a climax for the previous three years’ dissension and division, 2020 may be the year that reinforces the concept of common humanity.
  4. Online communication, especially Zoom, can be a tool for connecting: Fortunately, one of my resolutions for 2020 was strengthening and maintaining my current network, and Zoom has been especially helpful. (Like many others, I can found moving from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting a bit overwhelming). It’s also allowed me to schedule catch-up calls with friends, hold events for Chicago Doctor Who Meetup, as well as facilitate a panel for Chicago TARDIS. As someone who found himself rushing from place to place before the pandemic, Zoom has provided ample opportunities for me to connect and be connected. And finally…
  5. We are human beings, not human doingsEarly in the pandemic, a meme emerged that stated (to paraphrase) “If by the end of lockdown you haven’t learned a new language, started a new business, or some other task, you’re not taking advantage of free time.” Unfortunately, the hustle porn/“crushing it” mentality behind that sentiment can be crippling. (Especially for those who have other responsibilities such as caregiving). As someone who placed much of his self-worth in achievement, learning how to relax, meditate, and focus on the moment has helped me develop a much-needed perspective. As much as I have plenty to do, learning to take time to relax and rejuvenate has been an exceptional use of my time.

Granted, this is not the usual “2020 year in review” post. (And in the past, I’ve waited until January to highlight the past year). But I thought that as the year comes to a close, it was better to provide a more personal perspective over the past year.

What are your thoughts? Please leave them in the comments below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

December 7, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Election Day Isn’t The End of It

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If you’re like me, you’ve already opted for mail-in or early voting rather than head into the lines of Election Day. We all know the stakes: we’re living in the midst of a pandemic with our government slowly, but surely, descending into fascism. It’s easy to believe that once November 3rd passes, Election Day will be the transition to better, more optimistic times.

But it’s not the case. Actually, November 4th is when the work really begins.

We’ve seen this administration dismantle the post office while laying the seeds for a potential “voter fraud” scenario. Municipalities in other states have limited drop boxes for ballots. We’ve seen this administration push through candidates who were barely qualified in order to “rubber stamp” any decisions. As Election Day results are being counted, the administration and its supporters will push for a definite “result” despite federal regulations outlining the procedure.

That’s when the fight really begins.

Over the past four years, our nation has experienced the aftereffects of this administration’s policy. Separating children from their families at the border and putting them in cages as an immigration strategy.  Over nine million cases of COVID-19 and 232,000 deaths at the time of this blog post. Threats to end health care for millions in this country. This is an administration that will not go gentle into that good night…and voters will need to act after Election Day.

This isn’t 2017 when wearing a “pussy hat” or attending a rally is “just enough”. It means contacting legislators and maintaining pressure. It means truly believing that democracy is not a spectator sport, but that we need to coalesce as a community to push back. After all, very little has changed in this federal administration’s approach since this John Oliver piece in 2017:

There are those who believe in voting for a third-party candidate because “both sides” are somehow flawed. You know, the “hipper-than-thou” attitude that makes everyone else part of the problem and that misquotes George Carlin’s attitude on voting. There’s only one response I can give to those individuals:

Suck it up, buttercup. 

This is no longer a case of “lesser-of-two-evils”; it’s a case of one halfway decent individual versus corruption incarnate. You may disagree or try to pull the “both sides” argument, but voting makes a difference. (It’s the reason why, in Illinois, Bruce Rauner was a one-term governor who’s now living in luxury in Florida). It means not just selecting new representational leadership, but holding them accountable. 

(And by “holding accountable”, I don’t mean just “trolling them on Twitter”. It means ensuring that they execute the will of the people voting for them).

So after Election Day is over, when the election judges have returned home after a long, hard day’s work…take a deep breath. Relax. Get a good night’s sleep, if you can. But don’t forget that we still need to keep contacting our representatives, keep putting pressure on leaders at every level of government. It’s not easy. It’s not simple. But our democracy is worth it.

It also means treating our neighbors and colleagues with consideration. I will end this post on a positive note with some wise, enlightened comments from one of my wisest colleagues/friends:

…Listen to the underrepresented people in your community. Listen without making them cater to you. For all its issues, Twitter is actually a great place for listening in on conversations between people in marginalized groups that don’t cater to outsiders. Follow a few dozen POC in different groups, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ folks, whatever group you don’t have such candid, in-person conversations with, and a few that you think you do – your perspective will change.

Then, use your new awareness. Boost voices who have been talking about these issues for years. Don’t take over – share their (credited) work with people who used to not understand, as you once didn’t understand. Help others learn as well.

 

Written by gordondym

October 28, 2020 at 7:35 am

Remote Work Trends in Chicago Business & Technology

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(Special thanks to Matt Mead of SPR Consulting for his time and insight)

Many full-time workers and freelancers are adjusting to remote work in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, many companies have had to rapidly shift towards remote work policies with varying results. Given Chicago’s thriving technology and business communities, we wanted to examine how local companies have successfully adopted remote work policies and how those policies may progress in the future months. We spoke with Matt Mead, Chief Technology Officer at SPR Consulting, about trends and predictions around remote work in Chicago.

Can you provide an overview of how the Chicago technology & business scenes are adjusting to remote work models in light of COVID-19?

Fortunately, many tech companies and groups with companies that are tech-heavy were not strangers to remote work technologies— even before COVID. As a result, the transition to working remotely has been less impactful than most assumed. While working with our clients on various technology initiatives, we’ve had no significant issues moving previously onsite engagements into the virtual realm.

However, working remotely does take more effort to keep all necessary stakeholders and team members up to speed. Fortunately, there are almost ubiquitously adopted tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack that make the transition easier and keep all people in the loop by leveraging features that allow synchronous virtual meetings mixed with asynchronous threaded communication.

What are the challenges that are being faced by the tech/business community in the wake of COVID-19?

There are two primary challenges facing the tech and business communities in the wake of COVID-19:

  • With a now-remote workforce, the many cultural differences between different tech companies, such as free lunches, on-site gyms, etc. aren’t as important. As a result, COVID is starting to level the playing field between employers.
  • At the same time amid COVID, we’re actually seeing technology workers continue to change jobs. Entering the pandemic, we assumed most tech workers would stay put and value the inherent job security of a tighter labor market, but that hasn’t been the case. What’s most surprising is that the required networking and interviewing is being done almost exclusively virtually and it is proving to be effective.

How has the pandemic impacted hiring patterns and processes? (For example, have employers increased their geographic reach in trying to find candidates?)

We’re starting to see technology workers look at wider geography for their next jobs, as most companies are working remotely for the foreseeable future.

By being able to apply now for more jobs that are now remote,  tech workers still expect to be able to drive up their salary as they compete for jobs in higher-paying markets. However, employers think they can drive down their salaries and costs by competing for employees in markets that pay lower. From what we’ve seen so far, it seems the workers are winning, as they are able to work anywhere and are demanding higher salaries in more expensive markets. This ultimately has the ripple effect of raising salaries in all markets, given that everyone is fishing in the same pond for this pool of potential employees.

Finally, as many companies adopt technology and digital tools to enhance collaboration and communication, how do you see this adoption impacting how companies function during – and potentially after – this pandemic?

We can expect most tech companies to continue to present more remote work opportunities than pre-COVID, mostly due to companies having positive experiences managing their remote workforces. As a result, CFOs are now questioning whether the cost of their lease and/or real estate is worth it.

However, this is not the death of the physical office. We also expect that most companies will continue to have a physical space, but their in-office requirements will be less stringent than pre-COVID, as some workers will continue to operate remotely.

Thanks again to Matt Mead of SPR for sharing his time and thoughts. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you want to contact us privately, please use this email form. As always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

October 7, 2020 at 9:20 am

Telehealth & COVID-19 in Chicago: A Follow Up

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Back in April, we highlighted a West Monroe Partners Healthcare & Life Sciences Survey focusing on the use of telehealth services in Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Although the initial study was completed on the cusp of the COVID-19 outbreak, West Monroe Partners used the March results as a touchstone to document changes in Chicago resident attitudes towards medical telehealth services in the wake of the state’s fight against COVID-19. (You can read West Monroe Partners’ summary here).

West Monroe Partners recently released the results of their July follow-up study in telehealth services. Focusing on a smaller respondent base (500 Chicago residents compared to 1,000 residents of three cities including Chicago), the July West Monroe Partners telehealth study focused on documenting not just changes in telehealth adoption, but how the current COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping overall health care delivery. (Almost two-thirds of respondents reside in Cook County) The West Monroe Partners provides some key insights into how attitudes towards telehealth are changing, and how other healthcare-related attitudes and behaviors are being shaped.

  • Not only are people increasing their use of provider telehealth services, but they are also adopting more positive attitudes towards those services: Although 18% of March respondents indicated that they had used telehealth services in the past year, that number rose to 86% in July. Attitudes towards telehealth have also improved, with respondents who were unwilling to engage in any telehealth services dropped from 47% in March to 38%. Respondents also reported increased trust and positive experiences when working with providers via telehealth services; however, providers need to maintain a level of flexibility and transparency with patients.
  • Telehealth usage will continue post-pandemic whether alone or integrated with in-person services: Twenty-five (25) percent of Chicago respondents stated that they would utilize telehealth services over in-person visits after the current pandemic ends. Thirty-seven (37) percent of respondents would take a mixed approach to access health care services, integrating both in-person visits (for more involved issues) and telehealth for basic follow-up visits. Although convenience and access to health care will be a constant concern post-COVID-19, telehealth will continue to be a channel for patients to access health care services.
  • Healthcare providers face multiple challenges in providing thorough quality of care and appropriate “bedside manner” through telehealth: Approximately 26% of respondents over 65 years of age indicated that they would “never” opt for telehealth over in-person visits due to concerns around overall quality of care and provision of services. (Accessibility is also a key issue, as one respondent indicated that telehealth is “pointless” for people who are deaf or have specific hearing issues). Understanding the nature of challenges for telehealth adoption can provide providers an opportunity to gain insight into ensuring a more “personal” touch and overall quality of care.
  • Generational differences provide some insight into attitudes and behaviors towards telehealth adoption. Twenty-six (26) percent of respondents over the age of 65 reported that they would never choose telehealth over in-person visits while fifteen (15) percent would schedule more in-person appointments after the pandemic due to lack of interpersonal contact. Although more respondents indicated a greater trend towards frequently checking their out-of-pocket expenses, the number of Gen Z respondents who felt “in control” of their health care dropped by 15 percentage points. Gen Z respondents were more likely to have lost health insurance as well as engage in telehealth.

Telehealth services are reshaping health care access and delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although health care providers are learning to adjust to these changes, understanding and adopting more effective strategies can ensure the quality of care and satisfaction for people and communities to stay healthy.

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And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

September 30, 2020 at 11:31 am