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Blake Dowling: The new normal

These days, it’s remote, remote, remote and remote only.

As we head into April, a vast majority of our workforce in Florida (who are still working) is working remotely.

In an earlier column, I reviewed tools available to help make this happen.

If we start thinking ahead and to the future, what will change about our state and nation after this health crisis?

Someone told me that schools will never be the same, that this will be the tipping point where people start embracing e-learning on a large scale.

Remember educational upstart Kahn Academy? Will platforms like that become the new norm?

Will this situation propel e-learning to the masses?

Kahn has a strong presence in Florida, with last year’s partnership with Disney. You can read about how the two offer “Imagineering in a Box.”

The team at Kahn is not just working at Disney; they are offering coursework to anyone right now to keep the learning going.

Plus, they are a not-for-profit, so what an amazing free resource to our world.

Check them out, and they will guide you straight to their course work by age. If your online learning curriculum for your child doesn’t fill a whole day, dive in for some supplemental help as I know parents (who are now part-time teachers) are looking for help.

Meanwhile, our professional teachers in Florida are now keeping kids engaged with online classes, and an educator in Sarasota weighed in on what her new norm is. I see the term BC (Before Corona) is being used more and more. You can read about her experiences here.

Kudos to her and all teachers for rising to meet this challenge; if you haven’t seen the Teacher Parade in Tampa, it is pretty awesome.

Ken and Drew from Sister Hazel with me and a very-thrilled-to-be-sitting-next-to-me Edwin McCain.

Onto the workforce, two conversations I have had recently were regarding our new “remote” workers in Florida.

Drew Piers from Sachs Media Group in Tallahassee was one of those conversations. He said:

“Silicon Valley tech firms may have been the first to dive into the work from home culture, but that philosophy has spread to countless other industries and fields — and the flexibility can create more freedom and enhanced productivity. In this new era of coronavirus concerns, the adoption of flexible policies will get fast-tracked by even more businesses and organizations. The real question is, how much of that shift will remain once this pandemic is behind us?” Will people want to come back to work? Will remote options be the norm? Will there be a new norm?”

My first call today was to our CTO to review projects and how we proceed to handle them all remote in April? We used FaceTime.

Next, I called the Chamber — an old school phone call — followed by a discussion with the sales team.

Then, there was a Zoom call with a potential client. I used to do a Sunday night review of all my appts for the coming week, which ones were remote, or events, which ones I need to suit up for, which ones I need to be prepared to say something intelligent at (tall order some days), arrive early, bring the team, in our conference room or theirs, etc.

These days, it’s remote, remote, remote and remote only.

It’s a strange new reality; the only people I met with last week was an across-the-room interview with WTXL for its Feeding Hope drive with Second Harvest to get those families in food crisis what they need here in North Florida.

My only in-person meeting with WTXL for the week, which was up from zero the week before. It looks to be zero this week, also in line with suggested business rules of engagement.

There is (and will be) lots of finger-pointing in the coming days and weeks; that’s the nature of things. And with this situation, in particular, no one has ever seen anything like it.

Our workload has been tremendous since this crisis got going on March 12 with the scramble to make sure all our clients had what they needed to work remotely.

It would appear we are in a position to reinvent the way we work and embrace a new way of collaboration in ways never before seen once we get through this crisis.

Some things will stay the same. However, I was texting with Ken Block — the lead singer of Gainesville, Florida rock and rollers Sister Hazel. He was sharing all things they are doing to engage with their fans during this time.

They also did something special for their road-crew who without a tour to do are not working.

They did a fundraiser to help keep the bills paid, called All for Crew (borrowing from their #1 hit All for You).

One example of the online engagements is posting up covers and cool songs like band vocalist and guitarist, Drew Copeland does a very on-point cover of a Don Henley track, the lyrics go “nobody on the road, nobody on the beach” indeed. Excellent work, Drew.

The bottom line for Ken (and our artists out there), people will be starving for some live music very soon, and to all those in the hospitality industry, we can’t wait to give you our business again.

I have no interest in a remote bar. Have you seen people doing remote happy hours? It is a thing now.

One assumes the remote workforce will be here to stay, and on a scale much more significant than we have ever seen before.

Keep an eye on the educational space as a fundamental shift in that system may be on the way.

Stay strong, everyone, and to those in health care at this time, thank you for your service and thank you, everyone, for reading today’s column.

P.S.: Also, for your entertainment pick of the week, I bowed to the hype and dialed up Tiger King, Episode 1; it was pretty interesting. Check it out. And cheers to the one-and-only Mrs. Jeanne Dowling; you know your wife rules when you are still smiling and laughing on the homefront after the past 2-3 weeks.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and hosts the Biz and Tech podcast. He writes for several organizations. Dowling can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

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