Only Distanced, Never Apart


Readership Warning:

In this blog post, I am energized by the deep concerns we all have of the pandemic tightening its grip on us yet again. A small reprieve over the late summer months had some of us back to something fairly normal with shopping, some recreation events, and schools open and operating. Some of us got back to the office or worksite at least part-time if we weren’t there already full time. Fair warning: I am typically more opinionated in my writing and suggestions than I am in person.

Many leaders of teams and organizations have been in this pandemic environment of virtually located and technology connected work. As we work from our dining rooms, living rooms, or den couches (or the fortunate spare room or home office), we must more firmly set our minds to know that we are only distanced, never apart from our teams and co-workers.

I share this reminder in part to fend off the misleading vernacular that has been creeping into our conversations since mid-March. Virtual does not have to equal separate. Distanced does not have to mean fragmented. “Not in the office” does not have to equal “less than.”

“The only thing we can’t do by being distanced is spread communicable diseases.”

We are only apart in space, and we need not re-label the challenges this brings as overbearing or limiting. We are harboring and energizing limiting beliefs far too much. The only thing we can’t do by being distanced is spread communicable diseases. Technology allows us to do our work effectively (and in some cases more effectively). Remote workers have known this for decades, and many would tell us that their organizations and leaders still have not gotten it right!

As leaders, we have the essential role of setting the tone and energy around how we work together, pandemic or not. Expecting us all back in the office might prove to be a limiting (and antiquated) belief. Unless your work requires the unique equipment, tools, or facility of your workplace, setting the tone of anything less than connected through technology while we remain safe and distanced is settling for “less than.”

Leaders, I challenge you to influence your teams to reframe their current state of social distancing and virtual work connections as Only Distanced, Never Apart. Band together through technology. Turn your video cameras on to see one another. Stop worrying about seeing the kitchen in the background or the cat tipping over the flower vase on the side table. Your kids are adorable when they are giggling, fighting, or crying (I’m thankful they’re not mine when they fight and cry, though), and the pets are not a problem when they bark, meow, or paw at the door to go out because you’ve been neglecting their biological needs. It’s time to get over ourselves, and embrace our new together – distanced, but not apart…

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  1. Dan Andress on December 29, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Bill, you NAILED it. Thank you for sharing this, and for being passionate about it. I’ve been WFH since mid-March along with my team, and we’ve thrived! Sure, there are distractions present at home that aren’t in the workplace. But there’s also flexibility to throw in a load of laundry, step away to run errands and make up the time later, etc. My team members are loving this and they continue to be highly productive. As for me, my engagement has actually increased since I moved home. I’m spending more face time with others on camera than I ever did in the office (which is sometimes a little tiring for this introvert), but that’s helping sharpen my emotional intelligence. And I welcome seeing the domestic side of my coworkers’ lives; I find myself being more interested and invested in relationships as a result. It’s extremely rare for my team or me to need to be in the office, and several of my folks have commented to me that they’d prefer to WFH even if/when COVID subsides and we can return to the facility. I think you’re dead on here, sir – we’re distanced, but definitely not apart. Thanks again, Bill, and I wish you and yours a safe and Happy New Year!

    • Bill on January 4, 2021 at 5:22 pm


      Thanks so much for responding and reaching out! I’m so glad the post resonated with you and most of all to hear about all your success!
      I hope that you and your family had a lovely holiday and that you are off and running to an amazing 2021!

      Hope we connect again soon Dan!


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