When extraordinary circumtances affect our daily operations

CIMG0858This photo was taken minutes before my office ceiling collapsed. A thirty year old building that buckled for some unknown reason and my neighbours’ ceiling collapsed as well. Not only are we concerned of asbestos now but also concerned about the damage that it left. My equipment is not just dusty but some have ceiling parts lodged in them. There is a lot of cleanup to be done.

Questions and comments that came up were:
1. Is everyone ok? Get your masks. Go home. Get checked if necessary. We’ll communicate by phone/email instead until the dust settles.
2. Cancel all appointments today and tomorrow and be on a holding pattern until this is cleared for returning back to work
3. Get a clean up crew to the office. Assess damage.
4. Will our insurance cover this?
5. We need to communicate with our partners, vendors, clients, stakeholders – will they believe us? Has anyone taken photos?
6. Once the dust settles salvage what we can.
7. Move forward when ready – emotionally, physically, …

These steps were a concerted effort to ensure avoidance of this question: Are we so driven with our business focus that we forget that there are people and circumstances that surround each business endeavor?

This reminded me of circumstances right after 9-11 when a constant comment of “see how they bounced back immediately” referring to companies back to business and some even profitable with less focus on the people behind those successes and how struggles they have endured emotionally, physically, professionally provided the foundation for rebuilding. I lived in Hell’s Kitchen and saw the collapse with my own eyes. We had offices in the Ttwin Towers. We lost friends. But corporate partners and colleagues would not provide leeway past a moment of silence especially when they are further from the situation. There was no need to sound lame. There was a need to continue business and one that should be stellar even though we were all breathing asbestos and some even had unusual coughing fits.

This feeling came back to me immediately after seeing this event indicating that we need to be more concerned with people and balance this with work requirements. Although the damage was not as extensive, the feeling provided fodder for a learned next move. Hopefully it was enough for everyone to feel they are being taken cared for along with those outside of the organisation feeling that communication is sufficient.

What would you do next in this situation?

578 comments to When extraordinary circumtances affect our daily operations

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