Another crisis and the moral of this story…
We are heading towards one of the biggest crisis that we have seen so far. The economic impact that the pandemic and the measures taken by the authorities will have is not yet to be estimated. Governments try to help companies and employees with relief funds and pretend that there is enough money for the time being as we have been profiting from a strong economy during the past decade and were able to make some savings. This might be right for the immediate moment, but no one seems to think of the impact all this will have in the longer run.
We are asked to stay at home until further notice and funny enough everyone seems to find that reasonable and does so without complaining – at least not publicly, with a few exceptions. We are following the measures of our governments that lead us into the biggest crisis ever – knowingly, with full awareness. Not knowing how to handle the situation, our leaders follow the advice of others that pretend to know. Unfortunately only a few experts are heard and not enough time is taken to look at the problem from different perspectives in order to come to a sophisticated approach. So we are collectively running towards the disaster with full speed. Whole continents are locked down, the freedom of people is subducted and we are forced to listen to people who don’t have the answers either but try to do something out of pure actionism. People are made scared by the media that spread information which is only half true or only part of a whole that is not explained any further. Anxiety rules, which explains why people don’t seem to think clearly anymore. All this happens in our mostly democratic world in the year 2020. What would you have said, if someone had told you a few weeks back? I am sure you would have laughed out loud and stated that you would never have tolerated that.
Lucky enough, in our highly globalized world with all the smart web-based IT applications that we use for some years already, many of us are able to keep up their daily work from home. Modern means of communication make it possible that we see each other and speak to each other many times per day – not only one on one, but even in bigger groups. Teams are becoming fully virtual right now. Work is done in an even more agile way. Flexibility and improvisation ability are the most important competencies for organizations and their employees currently. People seem to make the switch easily and we can be proud of that. With everything that is going on at home in addition to normal life, they seem to survive for now.
But before we cheer too early, please keep in mind that this is only the beginning. We are two weeks into working from home now and it is quite realistic to assume that we are not even near half-time. While we are the lucky ones that can be productive and keep up our routines as good as possible, we should not forget about all the people that are sitting at home without any work: The owners of bars, restaurants, little shops and their employees, pilots and flight attendants, cleaning staff, hair dressers and beauty specialists, travel agents, taxi chauffeurs, physiotherapists, independent handymen and consultants and many more. These people are bored – but even worse – they are scared. We all know that boredom and anxiety typically doesn’t bringing up the best in people.
So what can we expect to be the result of this situation? We don’t have to be scientists ourselves in order to understand that this crisis will have tremendous impact on our years to come – not only economically, but also personally. We have seen crises in the past – the internet bubble, the financial market crisis and others way back – and we all know that it isn’t fun at all to deal with it. Anyway, we went through them and survived with the feeling that we learned from them and are better prepared next time. But somehow we are not… The reason for this is, that this time we are not only dealing with macroeconomic effects, but also with a humanitarian crisis at the same time.
This time the threat is coming very close – our health is in danger and so is our personal financial situation. Or is it the other way round? No matter which threat is going to be there first – the other one is going to follow. We seem to be trapped. Either we try to protect our health – then we will be suffering at lot financially or we try to keep up the economic situation as good a possible – then we might run the risk to get sick. A classical catch 22.
Apart from the risk of picking up the virus people run the risk of getting sick in different respect – this is what physicians and psychologists are foreseeing already. Despite the comfort of working from home, lots of people are under a tremendous pressure these days:
- separation of work and private life is even less possible
- children have to be watched and entertained all day long, also during working hours
- families and couples need to deal with each other 24/7 without a pause and the possibility to withdraw at least for a few minutes
- the commute, typically demonized due to traffic jams and crowded public transport is desperately missed now as we miss our “switch off phase” with it
- communication is needed even more, so people are on the phone and/or in front of a video screen up to 12 hours a day only for work
- singles feel even more lonely and separated from the rest of the world
- people feel more pressure as they feel that they need to show what they are working on and prove their productivity
- employees are worried of losing their jobs due to the threatening crisis
Up until today we seem to be perfectly fine, but after 12 days of working from home the first signs of tiredness, exhaustion, huffiness and bad temper are yet to be seen. Moving on into the coming weeks we will experience this more and more among each other. Due to restricted social contacts, little possibilities of distraction and/or withdrawal and no outlook on fun things to do other than being at home with the same people over and over again, people will soon feel the impact this situation will have on them. Some might have a tendency for depression others might feel angry, tired or restless – all typical reactions of people that get into a situation they cannot control.
And there we get to the source of it. We can sum it all up to the following: We are all suffering from our loss of control. We gave away our freedom and let some people take over that don’t even know us. We try to convince ourselves that this is the right thing to do, but deep inside we feel that something is wrong. We know that we will be suffering from this for a long time and in the back of our heads one question is coming up again and again… what if we had thought through the situation to the end, looked at it from different perspectives and had come up with a balanced risk assessment instead of panicking and falling into lots of short-term action that will have an even worse outcome?
And the moral? Life is full of situations that we don’t know. The most important thing is to keep calm and use our minds. We need to make sure that we look at the full picture. We should never hesitate to ask for help, but need to choose our advisers wisely. We might need to adapt in order to move on, but we should never listen to someone only because that person shouts out the loudest. We need to keep using our common sense rather than believing in everything the news and social media tell us. Listening to our own instincts is more important than ever.
Stay critical and never give up your freedom again!