Articles 3 min read

We’re in the same storm. But not the same boat. by Karen Walker

The world is experiencing a global pandemic, but for communities, and at a more micro-level, individuals, the experience is singular to the community, and person. This matters, for government, institutional, and also business and employer, responses to Covid-19.

Unique starting point

Every individual’s circumstances at the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, were truly unique.

Like any species, genetics mean we inherit a whole lot of traits. Our appearance, inherent skills and capabilities, personalities and health. 

Our environment — where we grow up, our family, influential people, relationships, circumstances, our work, and events in our lives – also enhance this uniqueness, including of our holistic health: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and financial.

This is the reality of our individual differences, and why we’re having a truly unique experience of the Covid-19 world.

Our human sameness

Being part of a species, means humans, like other species, share some universals. This is our sameness, of being human, and of our shared humanity.

We’re designed to be social and belong to tribes, these human connections are inherent to our survival and ability to thrive, that relies on belonging to a collective, that shares resources and cares for each other. We have behavioural norms, and with our evolved language skills and brains, as mammals we have very elaborate systems of taboos, rules, and etiquette.

This is why, as a species, the things that bind us are the rituals, accepted conventions, ceremonies and stories of our tribe. We belong to a number of tribes, such as our family, our friends, our sporting team, our local community, our religion, and our profession. In organisations, our tribes are our teams.

Covid-19 balancing act

The balancing act during a global pandemic, is recognising in the middle of the Covid-19 storm, there’s some universal responses that will steady our wellbeing, as a collective.

But many responses must be bespoke, that recognises the unique human experience of the pandemic by individuals, and therefore, the unique state of their wellbeing, and wellbeing needs.

Research on the large scale experiment Covid-19 necessitated, of knowledge workers suddenly working from home, has highlighted how diverse this experience has been for employees. With many reporting a positive experience, whilst for others, it has contributed to significant emotional, social, mental and physical health issues.

Human work during Covid-19

Organisations that acknowledge and celebrate, both our differences and our sameness, make smart investments in group and team wellbeing as a collective, and bespoke investments in employees, as individuals.

Developing and coaching their leaders and management in the skills that bind us together, our very human skills, such as emotional expression and intelligence, that co-create team environments that enable people to be themselves, and benefit from the richness of human differences. Skills that also recognise what humans share, a desire for a culture that is safe, trust based, respectful, inclusive, candid and open, supported by consistent narratives about what matters to be our best.

Science and research during Covid-19 tells us, an effective response to collective stress and trauma being experienced during a global pandemic, is enhancing stability, empowerment and safety. That’s focusing on the positives, of what teams can control, optimise and achieve together, to be their best in the current circumstances.

Science and research is also reinforcing, that organisations and employers must stop rolling out only one-size fits all investments, responses and initiatives, in psychosocial health (emotional, social, and mental). And the time to start to investing in bespoke responses to each employee’s needs is now, during the unprecedented stress Covid-19 is creating for so many at work.

Same Covid-19 storm, different boats

Simone Outteridge and I are working with teams, coaching them in the co-creation of their version of what being their best in the current circumstances can be, that’s founded on meeting those human universal needs vital to wellbeing during Covid-19. Also coaching teams in collectively adapting their norms of behaviours, rituals, accepted conventions, ceremonies and stories of their tribe, as part of addressing their currently unmet needs.

We’re also facilitating psychosocial hazards assessments at work, that enables the organisation to provide bespoke, tailored, and therefore, effective responses, to the individual needs of employees during Covid-19.

These two services collectively meet both the universal, and unique needs, of humans to be their best at work during Covid-19, and are interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.


Karen Walker is an Advisor, Expert and Operative in Strategy Execution, the series of decisions and actions undertaken to turn strategic visions of organisations into reality. An evolving journey of understanding possibilities and using situational awareness to adapt tactics and goals to realise maximum value. 

A specialist in the casino and gaming industry, with extensive experience in the implementation of new and innovative practices and the establishment of greenfield operations, Karen’s career spans senior operational management and leadership, program director, project and change management, and business transformation lead roles, across a number of sectors.  

Hear it first

Stay up to date with our latest content and events

Watch, read or listen to content from the brightest leaders across the world of People, Process & Technology.

Find out about the latest events across Europe

Network with like-minded professionals in your industry

Find and apply for the best jobs

See content that you like?

Share your experience by joining your exclusive roundtables, or contribute to our content like industry peers.

Get involved