By now, we are all subject in one way or another to the far-reaching impact of COVID-19. As we see on the news each day, the numbers of those infected by this deadly coronavirus continue to grow in terrifying increments. And even for those of us without family members or friends directly impacted by the virus, life has profoundly changed.
In my household, my older twins are back from their senior year of college, disappointed that they will not formally graduate. My younger daughter wonders when she can go back to school - probably more for the camaraderie than classes! I'm used to working from home, but I've found that having no outlet from my home office (other than the kitchen, occasionally) is confining. Work was already demanding, and now we're managing a whole new set of mental (and logistical) challenges. Relative to millions of others, I have nothing to complain about. But I know it is wearing on all of us.
So, with restrictive orders in place around the world, and with a seemingly long way to go, I've been asking myself three main questions. The first: how do we get through this?
I'm sure many of you are asking yourselves the same question. Your strategies may vary widely from mine, but I'll share the ways in which I'm trying to make this time less difficult.
For a start, I'm working hard to stay healthy. My own wellbeing, and that of my family and community, needs to be a priority right now.. I'm also trying to maintain social interaction by virtually reaching out to friends and family members, even if I can't be with them right now. It feels good to be connected. I think it's also important to maintain an outlet, a passion that you can still practice. For me, that's running and cycling (both of which I'm still able to do here in the California area on my own). These activities give me an opportunity to free my mind of distractions and focus on other topics.
The second question I've been thinking about is what is the role of work right now?
I'm lucky enough to be able to work from home--I feel enormous gratitude for the essential workers who are still going out every day to keep us safe. At Akamai, we were asked to work remotely early on in this crisis. For some people this might be their first time working remotely. Or the first time with small kids out of daycare, older kids home from school, or elderly parents to care for. It's a new kind of stress. One which has work life balance top of mind as we have to make tradeoffs minute by minute. We're all trying to adjust and find new routines, and that will look different for every person. We must be respectful of each other's needs and requirements as we all strive to find our best way of working.
I feel that purpose and meaning from work are also under the spotlight. At a time when many people are dependent on the internet for remote work, information, shopping, entertainment, and to connect with one another, Akamai's commitment to help our customers protect and deliver their digital businesses is stronger than ever. People are relying on us. I've worked in internet communications and collaboration technologies for over 25 years, and my work has never felt so vital.
My final question - what happens next? It's difficult, if not impossible, to predict just how long we will be in this current state, but it seems clear that things will never be quite the same for any of us, personally or professionally. Will more of us work remotely more often? Will this change our long-term utilization of the internet? Will we place even greater value on our ability to go to a movie theater or a restaurant or sporting event?
Amidst so much chaos, one thing is certain to me, and that is how truly grateful I am to be at Akamai. From the beginning, there was never a hesitation in putting people and customers first. We have not wavered for a moment in our role in delivering the services that our customers expect of us. And we are equally committed to our employees--supporting Akamai people around the world to navigate this changing landscape together. While our experiences of this crisis may be unique to us as individuals, I am impressed to see colleagues coming together to communicate, share, and learn from each other across our internal channels. It may be an unprecedented time, but I am proud to be a part of the resilient community at Akamai.