We recently came across an article in which Jack Salzwedel, chairman and CEO of American Family, was quoted as having said this:
We’ve made the comment that it took COVID and physical distancing to bring us closer as an organization. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
We don’t know if that will come to constitute anything like the new normal that’s become so popular to talk about since the pandemic affected us all. But we do know the truth of Mr. Salzwedel’s statement is reflected in our relationships with our employees and our customers. And we also know the pandemic has caused us to re-examine our notions of connections — from professional to personal, from the office to home and family.
What’s Old is New
There might not be any method of connecting or communicating older than personal conversation. But a few others are right up there:
- Phone. We were tempted to write telephone. But that would have taken us back to dinosaurs, and people weren’t even conversing that long ago. Nevertheless, being able to pick up the phone has become increasingly handy as the pandemic has stretched on. We don’t text with our customers. But texting is a great way to connect and share quick messages with friends and family.
- Email. This technology’s been around for a while; although, it post-dates the phone by a hundred years or so. If you don’t count the phone invented by the Italian inventor, Antonio Meucci, in 1849 — or the phone invented by the French inventor, Charles Bourseul, in 1854 — Alexander Graham Bell won the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. Ray Tomlinson didn’t get around to creating email for the ARPANET until 1971. But it turned out to be, and remains, an effective means of communicating and retaining dated documentation of that communication.
- Collaboration platforms. While they pre-date the coronavirus, collaboration platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and smaller platforms like Slack, Happeo, Jostle, Flock, Asana, and others have proliferated during the pandemic. They may not be for everyone. But they’re there. And they fill a need we may not have seen coming.
We don’t know if Mr. Salzwedel intended any or all of that. But we’re grateful he prompted us to think about all of the means by which we create and maintain connections … old and new.
Maybe we’re closer to a new normal than we thought we were.