This is the sixth chapter of my Community Manager Diary, and it’s about optimism, resilience and hope for the future, after this global COVID-19 lockdown. If you haven’t read the previous chapters of this series, here is a link to the very first article.
High Hopes for our Communities
This scenario might look familiar to most of us. Back in February, when the emergency had not yet exploded like a bomb, we kept watching the news looking for updates about an unknown kind of flu that had forced the Chinese government to close down a whole city.
Then we found out that the situation was so desperate that two hospitals were built in just 10 days in the Wuhan District. For me, that moment was an epiphany.
It was probably our fear of danger that made us want to ignore the problem. I had a former colleague working in China at that time; she was in the lockdown are and was warning people via her Facebook account that we should take serious precautions. But no one paid attention. Nor did I.
We preferred to believe the news and the politicians who were telling us that it was really just a new kind of flu that had got a little out of control. Reality hit us hard here in Spain on March 14th when the State of Emergency was declared only a week after Italy, where my colleagues were already facing the truth in the worst way.
Spain, like many other countries, was not exempt. Now, many weeks later – it feels like a year! – it is still not clear how we will get out of this, how we should behave from now on, and even worse, how long we will have to coexist with limitations.
Dear Lockdown diary
Not long ago, we expected the emergency to be temporary, and that we would return to normality in a couple of weeks. This was probably an illusion shared by almost everybody. I transformed my initial skepticism to optimism. I kept saying to my colleagues that it would end quickly, and that we had to be prepared to resume our work soon.
Regardless of the quarantine, I was sure that our Codemotion events scheduled in Rome and in Amsterdam would go ahead. Thinking from a community manager’s point of view, we at Codemotion wanted to help our communities we wanted to tell them that they could still count on us. In the end, we too had to surrender to the evidence. That’s how life teaches us a lesson, I guess.
March was a working nightmare. We had to take care of upcoming conferences in several parts of Europe immediately, not to mention the many meetup events. As we were still hoping that we would get back to normal in a matter of a month or two, this meant that we “only” had to postpone all our activities.
Of course, even postponing was no easy job. Discuss all the agreements with our various venues and service providers, ask speakers for their availability with a month’s delay, book new flights and make new hotel reservations… and that was just the tip of the iceberg. I won’t go into detail about the costs and losses we had to face – this has been an issue for every business.
Most importantly, every employee, freelancer and entrepreneur in the world has been affected. People lost their jobs and security, as we now know, and too many lost their loved ones.
Yet, surprisingly, most communities I reached out to in April were still counting on simply postponing their events to May or June. We thought likewise. It sounds so naive, now!
Let’s go digital!
Soon, I decided that I wanted to use the lockdown as an opportunity. I started inviting communities to use our platform to promote their meetup events and to use our services to deliver webinars. I also tried to promote their events, although there weren’t many.
I was delighted to see that some communities were also fast in making the shift to a totally online approach: Google Hangouts, Zoom, Jitsy, GoToWebinar quickly became the new tools of the trade. Unfortunately, many others were more reluctant, and limited their response to cancelling all their upcoming meetups.
Eventually, we too decided to cancel all our offline events. Although we are still looking optimistically at next Autumn as an opportunity, Codemotion has become an online event series – the first of which just successfully took place on the 27th of May (hurray!).
Personally speaking, I’ve completely changed my perspective and I’m now pretty sure that, in Europe at least, we won’t be seeing any big events or concerts until May 2021. And even when we do get back to normal, it will be a new type of normal. I expect personal interactions to change, even when we no longer need to wear facemasks.
Today, my professional optimism is coming back to me. I think that it’s now just a matter of patience. Some people are not as lucky as I am to be able to say this, I know, but that’s where we must make a difference. I have been able to see from recent study that the IT industry was less hard hit than most others. Working at the forefront of innovation, developers have a moral duty, now more than ever, to help our society overcome these hard times.
I know that I speak on behalf of everyone at Codemotion when I say that we will play our small part by keeping up our daily side-by-side work with our communities, helping them to grow and thrive for the sake of technology.
These are strange times indeed. Like you, I really hope that the crisis will end soon, and once it does, that we will meet again to talk about all the many lessons we’ll have learnt. I’m sure it’s going to be a thrill!
Check out Chapter 7 of Francisco’s diary at this link!