What I’ve learned from the Trends seen since Lockdown #1
What I’ve learned from the Trends seen since Lockdown #1
As some areas of the UK experience local lockdowns and increased restrictions due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases, there is mounting talk and a sense of inevitability of a second one. It’s now 6 months since the start of the first lockdown and for those of us who weren’t eligible for any furlough scheme or government support, it simply meant ploughing on with business as usual, albeit online; I am very fortunate as I’ve been working with global clients for many years so all Coaching sessions became virtual. I also decided to replace my travel time with even more pro bono Coaching than I normally offer as well as providing pastoral care to key workers and those shielding. So for me lockdown involved working 6 days a week delivering Resilience Coaching, Executive Coaching, Career and Outplacement Coaching. Here are some of the trends I noticed each month since March and what I’ve learned along the way:
March 2020: The overriding feelings were of fear and panic as individuals and companies were forced to adapt dramatically to the impact of the pandemic. As meetings, holidays, sports events and even weddings were cancelled, some business owners shut up shop completely as the situation seemed somewhat apocalyptic with an air of finality.
April 2020: Despite the gloomy predictions, many companies actually started to flourish during lockdown, especially those that had already embraced digital transformation. Most leaders realised that their teams could adapt quickly, work remotely quite successfully and productivity wasn't adversly effected, in some cases it actually rose. As Darwin said: 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.'
May 2020: The initial novelty of being in a family bubble, reconnecting over home schooling and taking time to cook meals from scratch, as well as working at the kitchen table, all started to wear off as it became apparent that working from home wasn’t going to last just a couple of months. Remote workers became aware of screen fatigue as they started to miss those informal chats round the water cooler or coffee machine when problems could be solved swiftly and answers given to quick questions. Now any interaction with a line manager, peer or colleague involved a ‘phone call, instant message or scheduling a video call. Some clients foresaw issues and took a proactive approach to mental health by offering their teams Resilience Coaching and Training.
June 2020: For many remote workers, it became obvious that they had replaced their commuting time with working longer hours. Boundaries between work and home life were becoming blurred and managing to have a healthy work/life balance was often a struggle. As the immediate fire-fighting and crisis mode morphed in to BAU, managers started to see the challenges of trying to motivate and performance manage remote teams. Existing issues, such as interpersonal disputes, lack of engagement, or overwhelm caused by a high workload started to resurface. Mass redundancies began hitting the headlines and I started spending the majority of my time providing Outplacement Coaching and any spare hours writing CVs for anyone who needed one.
July and August 2020: Amidst all the uncertainty of ever-changing travel restrictions many workers had to postpone or cancel their Summer holiday, or they chose not to take any annual leave, which threatened to result in a rise in cases of burnout. Anxiety levels rose with the fear of catching the virus, concern over using public transport and returning to the office, or an increasing lack of job security. Leaders began to look for an exit strategy from being in emergency and operational mode to becoming more strategic and planning for the uncertain future.
September 2020: Initially at the start of this new term there was some optimism amidst the trepidation of a predicted second wave of the virus, but this positivity appears to be dissipating against the looming threat of a second lockdown, further mass redundancies at the end of the furlough scheme in October, added to the uncertainty and potential chaos as a result of a No-deal Brexit.
Having our freedom and independence curtailed suddenly and dramatically in March left many re-evaluating their careers, priorities and futures. Sadly, many have had no choice but to look for a new job in an increasingly competitive market. Arguably this time around we are more prepared for a major change to our lives, but the difference is that we are approaching Winter and that is the concern for many.
Over the past few months I have seen a roller coaster of emotions as people travel up and down the Change curve. Whilst listening to some heart-wrenching stories and witnessing people who are still struggling with symptoms of Covid-19 many months on, or who are distraught that they weren’t allowed to say their farewells to their loved ones in care homes or hospitals and with whole households losing their jobs, I am in complete awe of people's resilience. If you have a religious faith or you believe that the Universe/fate/destiny will bring you positive outcomes, then you’re more likely to be able to make sense of the mayhem, the loss of life, the lingering issues experienced by many Covid survivors and the deteriorating economic situation.
For many businesses that weathered the last recession in 2009, their leaders talk about how they dug deep and bounced back. Despite the current situation being unprecedented as we head in to what is likely to be a challenging Winter, if you work on trying to maintain a positive mental attitude you are more likely to be able to remain strong, stoic and philosophical. Whatever lies ahead, it's important to have hope.
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