This article addresses the experiences of Finnish frontline social workers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. Two questions are addressed. First, ‘what types of challenges social work professionals faced’ in their everyday, ‘glocal’ pandemic setting and, second, what types of solutions they developed to meet these challenges. The data consist of 33 personal diaries that social work professionals created from mid-March to the end of May 2020. The diaries are analysed by a thematic content analysis and placed within the framework of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis. The results suggest that the pandemic challenged social work at all levels, from face-to-face interactions to its global relations. The pandemic revealed not only the number of existing problems of social work, but also created new types of challenges. It demanded ultimate resilience from social workers and a new type of adaptive governance from social welfare institutions.