Info Words Design Notes

It Took a Pandemic for Everyone to Admit They’re Human

2020-03-23

a few days ago—before NYC locked down—I ventured to JFK and hopped on a flight to Austin.

the uber to the airport was the quickest drive I’ve experienced. the expressways in and around the city are empty.

the airport was dead. nearly empty.

the flight was empty. maybe twenty of us on board to Austin.

obviously, it’s because of this coronavirus that everything was shut down. but something else was happening:

everyone was friendlier. my uber driver, Frank, though he kept his distance and had a mask on, answered my questions about how the situation impacts him. we spoke to each other not like virus-carrying adversaries, but as two souls trying to make it in the world. everyone at the airport, even those wearing gloves and facemasks, smiled at each other. even airport security was gracious in helping me as I walked through, literally the only human being going through security at Terminal 2.

when i got on the plane, the flight attendants were infinitely less robotic. since there were so few people aboard, they didn’t give a presentation to a mass of sardines packed in the metal tube of an airplane, they just spoke to us. we all had our facemasks on and hand sanitizer, but it was the most personable flight i’ve ever been on, and likely ever will.

on the business side, this working from home means we’re jumping on calls with our clients and seeing their homes, hearing their children, looking at their personal offices and bookshelves. while coronavirus has shut down the world, it’s also put everyone in the same boat. it’s made everyone more personal. unapologetically. because there is nothing to apologize for.

it applies to email, too. see the email I received as an Intuit customer, signed by the CEO. every corporate message should be signed by someone.

it took a crisis to bring the leaders, the humans, the people behind the companies we love and spend money with, to come out and sign their names.

so…

this is the big change.

now is not the time for a fancy, corporate-designed newsletter.

it’s not the time for our no-reply email addresses.

it is the time for a video message. a voice message. a phone call. a personal email note.

because i know for a fact that the person on the other side of my screen is a person, just like me, who is working from home, pressing send.

it all comes down to writing. tone. attitude. personability. vulnerability.

when all is said and done and everyone is back in the office, none of us will be any less human than when we were at home.