Work & Collaboration in the Time of Coronavirus

Coonoor Behal, Mindhatch
5 min readMar 24, 2020


I wrote what follows for Mindhatch’s March newsletter sent to subscribers on 3/15. It got such an overwhelmingly positive response and so many people asked that it be made public, I wanted to do so.

Greetings from Seattle

First, please read the above image again! And go to this CDC website where you can learn more details about how to do each of these things effectively. I can only hope that by now you are exhausted of hearing and reading these things. If you are, go wash your hands. If you aren’t, go wash your hands.

Also, here’s an easy to understand quick read on what we all need to do save lives. Fun fact: it was written by my improv team mate who is also a data scientist!


This current crisis brings to mind my experience as a sophomore at a New York City college on September 11, 2001. I was displaced from my home/dorm for about 3 weeks; I can’t bring myself to say that I was homeless, because I had the power of privilege and an educational institution supporting me. But in truth, I was without a home and without anything but the clothes I had worn that Tuesday morning to my internship. That day’s confusion and sadness soon gave way to weeks that were characterized by: hugging strangers; jammed cellular networks that made it nearly impossible to let family know I was okay; and the kindness of first-, second-, and third-degree contacts.

This week — as the coming weeks will be, I’m sure — has been a strange inversion of that time. Then, I was without a home, couch surfing amongst friends, friends of friends, and family of friends until my university secured hotel rooms for me and my fellow students. At this moment of crisis, however, I’m obligated to stay in my home as much as possible. I’m compelled by my responsibility to limit community spread by NOT interacting with others as much as possible. This has meant clients postponing workshops and retreats, certain marketing efforts being derailed, dinners being cancelled, and my improv teams cancelling practices and shows.

While in 2001 the solution for humanity was connection, it seems now the best solution is distance. And distance necessarily limits certain acts of kindness. Not one hour before I began writing this, a homeless man rang my doorbell and I didn’t feel I should open the door; we talked through the door and I gave him $10 for a shelter bed through the mail slot.

I wish I could have confidently given him more, but Mindhatch, like many small businesses right now, is preparing to go through some lean times in the coming months. Not the greatest time for a company that specializes in in-person, group-based innovation and creativity, huh?

Most of you are probably reading this (thank you!) from your home right now. The world of work has changed almost overnight and trying to get things accomplished remotely is our new reality. Unlike in 2001, our cellular and Internet capabilities can help us make this time less isolating than it needs to be. It can help us connect, maintain empathy, and even show kindness.

Here in Seattle, a city that is notorious for its icy approach to socializing, the news and social media are full of ways people are helping each other. People are organizing online (healthy) volunteers to donate blood, deliver food, financially support artists; and coordinating dining “mobs” with crowdsourced tips to go to local restaurants that are suffering from the sudden lack of customers.

We’re not frontline medical professionals at Mindhatch, but I hope we still have something to offer those of you who remain healthy and need to follow through on work commitments in new circumstances. It’s never been more important to maintain connections and support one another; we just have to do it in a different way now.

Mindhatch’s expertise in group collaboration, creative facilitation, and innovative problem solving is available to you.

Below is a rundown of how we can help you and your colleagues right at this moment. As we come across and invent more ideas, we’ll be sure to pass them along. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you have questions or a specific need/request.

Be safe. Be Healthy. Be Kind.

~ Coonoor

FIVE THINGS by Mindhatch improv card game

Would you like a (free) copy of the digital version of this game that can help un-suck your meetings? It’s easily played virtually, over the phone or video conference. It might even be fun to play with your family at home! If you’d like a free Pdf copy please just contact me [] and I’ll send it to you.

Eye to Eye Conversation

While many of us are still lucky enough to be able to work at this time, we are needing to do it remotely. With this comes many challenges related to: productivity, creativity, collaboration, team dynamic, and setting a new tone for remote organizational culture. If we can’t be truly face to face, then at least we can be (and see) Eye to Eye. During this conversation, we’ll talk about your team and company challenges with keeping people engaged and collaborative when working remotely. Best of all, we’ll come up with some concrete ideas (resources, platforms, activities, etc…) that you can start executing right away to keep your team engaged, connected, and productive. Schedule a time now

How to Facilitate a Participant-Centric Innovation Session

This oldie but goodie I wrote and all of its tips are relevant for remote work and keeping people engaged during your video meetings, retreats, conferences, etc…

Learn Design Thinking Online with Us!

We are taking our flagship Design Thinking workshops (Design Thinking: 101 & Design Thinking: Application) virtual! And we are also introducing a shorter, 2-hour Design Thinking Taster session if you don’t have a half-day to give. Contact us today if you are interested in developing your team’s creative problem solving skills remotely.



Coonoor Behal, Mindhatch

Founder of Mindhatch // Design Thinking // Organizational Improv // Innovation Facilitation