Earlier this week I came across a report from ‘Not Everyday Life’. It seeks to understand how COVID-19 is impacting people across the world. The report is based on the results of over 175 interviews from across 35 countries. From this, seven, mainly positive, themes have emerged which not only impact how we work but also how we do business and I have used them to help frame some of the thoughts I have had over the past few months.
Connection – self-reflection and relationships under lockdown.
The research notes that many of us have used this time to reflect on our lifestyles and what relationships matter. Some are embracing healthier lifestyles, exercising more, cooking from scratch and learning new skills. While there may be uncertainty, we are also re-evaluating what is important to us – do I really need all the stuff I own? Do I want to go back to working long hours and not seeing the people who matter to me?
It is likely that many of those who are able to make such choices may decide to make radical changes to their work/life balance. Marketers are noting that consumers will demand increased perceived value, rather than volume, to justify purchases.
Community – From ‘me’ to ‘we’.
We’ve become more aware of our neighbours and communities. From street discos to chats across the garden fence, many of us are getting to know our neighbours. I gave Easter eggs to the children in my road and received thank you cards and artwork in return. Work colleagues are having ‘virtual barbeques’ and bake-offs together. There is a sense that we are all in this together, appreciation of ‘key’ workers and a greater understanding that we need to support vulnerable groups. I hope this new found sense of community spirit will continue post COVID-19 and we don’t regress back into our own little worlds once the pandemic is over.
Collision – work and family life colliding.
Working from home has its benefits. I enjoy not having to commute to work, being able to put the washing out on the line and spending more time with the family at home. However, it comes at a price. Childcare is an issue for many parents and it is difficult to balance work and family commitments. Some find it difficult to switch off from work, having to work in the evenings around other commitments or struggle to find somewhere appropriate to work from. Video calls show glimpses of colleagues’ homes and domestic life as we all try desperately to find the right angle for the camera so it doesn’t catch the washing up in the background. Many of us may yearn to get back to our offices, our ergonomic workspace and have face to face meetings, but it is likely that we will also demand more flexibility to work from home but, importantly, when it suits us, not the employer.
Communication – the role of technology.
Technology has been a blessing in making it possible to keep in touch with friends, family and work colleagues. The report notes that respondents may be alone, but they are not lonely. I hadn’t even heard of Zoom before lockdown yet my wider family, including a 91 year old aunt, celebrated my mum’s 80th birthday via Zoom. My church has run services on-line and I think some of the more elderly members of the congregation have surprised themselves with how quickly they have embraced Facebook, Zoom and WhatsApp! I’m so proud of them! I’ve been able to ‘attend’ events and training on-line that I could never have got to physically. We are also learning that too many video meetings are tiring and I perceive that the novelty of video has passed and we are happy to turn the cameras off for a while. It will be interesting to see how much we continue to embrace this technology when we are back in the workplace.
Coping – self-acceptance, re-evaluation, the unexpected.
The research suggests that people are becoming more comfortable with themselves. There’s no need to wear make-up if you don’t want to – so I don’t. Many of us are sporting interesting hairstyles and no one judges us for doing so. We’ve learnt to cope without our daily take out coffee hit every day or going into town at the weekends to shop. We are creating coping strategies by delineating the days of the week with curry night, film night, quiz night, in order to have something to look forward to.
People are re-evaluating ‘what is essential, what is sufficient and what is unnecessary’ and are reassessing their consumption patterns. We are becoming more self-sufficient as we realise we cannot always rely on distribution channels – hence the rise in baking and growing vegetables.
Clarification – roles, responsibilities and rituals.
Respondents showed an increased appreciation for medical workers and other frontline workers. People have been talking more about climate change and pollution. Domestic violence and mental health issues have been raised to the surface. Again, is this a blip, or will we see this continuing post-lockdown?
Confidence – rethinking trust.
With the barrage of constant news coming through the media, the research identified that we are seeking ways to make sense of it all and determine what and who we can trust. We are looking for reliable news sources and experts in the field to help make sense of the situation.
Undoubtably, this has been a chaotic time for some, juggling work/no work/furlough and finances. I’m aware that students are graduating, not knowing if they now have a job to go to. Some people have been busier than ever and have struggled to find time to reflect. I know I am fortunate. I’ve found it difficult at times, not seeing loved ones and not being able to go on the holiday we had planned, but overall, it’s been a time of reflection and a breath of fresh air. I have reconnected with what is important in my life and enjoyed the community spirit and increased communications with friends and family, albeit virtually. I hope to come out of lockdown a better person.
For further information regarding the report this is based on, please contact Not Everyday Life at https://noteverydaylife.com or email katrin.horn@truly-resonate.