On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 and its associated disease, COVID-19, a global pandemic. Across the world, governments took action to slow the spread and hospitals rushed to accommodate an influx of patients with this highly infectious and lethal disease. The urology departments in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, and Herlev and Gentofte, Copenhagen, Denmark — which are linked by the pre-existing CopMich Collaborative — had to respond with massive changes to the organization, staffing and workload of their teams. In this Viewpoint, authors from different urological subspecialties and at different career stages reflect on their experiences during the pandemic. Although their countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic differed radically, the similarities between the responses in Copenhagen and Michigan demonstrate the universal characteristics of medicine and the value of teamwork, flexibility and collaboration.