On March 11, 2020, Atomic Object made the decision to have employees work from home due to the coronavirus. That was about two months from my upcoming wedding, planned for May 16.
Our plan was to invite around 175 friends and family for a beautiful ceremony, followed by a night of barbecue, toasts, and dancing. Unfortunately, sharing a church, a buffet line, and a dance floor with several generations from two different families — plus out-of-town guests — runs 180 degrees contrary to the CDC’s advice for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
So when the news broke on March 11, we had a big decision to make. Here are a few things I learned going through this experience with my lovely (now) wife Katelyn and some thoughts on how they relate to life as a consultant and developer.
1. You don’t have to make decisions immediately.
When we found out that I’d be working from home, the CDC was recommending the cancelation of events of more than fifty people for the next eight weeks. This deadline ran out just shy of our scheduled date, so we were left without clear guidance. Given the crazy speed at which things were changing early in the outbreak, we figured that delaying decisions would only give us more information.
Sometimes, it’s okay to say that you’re deferring decisions until a point down the road when you know a little more.
2. When you do decide, minimize risk.
About a week after I started working from home, we decided to reschedule the reception to a later date but still have a tiny elopement-style wedding. In retrospect, it was absolutely the right decision, given that a full stay-at-home order was still in effect on our wedding date. That said, we still made the decision before it was our only choice.
Even if the course of the pandemic was such that we could have hosted the full event on the planned date, the worst thing that could happen was that we’d have to admit to being overly cautious. The alternative was certainly riskier.
3. Deciding sooner can be freeing; open questions are tiring.
Even though we didn’t have all the info when we made our decision, choosing took a huge weight off of our shoulders. Simply having an answer to an open question and a path forward that minimized risk let us enjoy the two months leading up to the wedding far more.
4. Talk, talk, talk.
It took lots of communication to make sure Katelyn and I were always making the right choices for the right reasons. We also talked through our situation and the decisions we saw before us with friends and family who we thought would have some insight.
5. Recognize different values in the same project.
My fiancée had spent years collecting posts on Pinterest and dreaming what a perfect wedding day could look like. A pandemic was not a part of any of those pins or plans. I, on the other hand, would have been okay with a courthouse wedding, as long as it meant I could marry her.
Be sure to always look out for the underlying values of both your client and your teammates, even if those values aren’t the same as yours. Work to be empathic to other perspectives, and look for win/wins in all of your decisions.