I was recently speaking to someone who said to me that we are living in a real-life disaster movie. I said yes, it is surreal, but we are in a situation we never anticipated. What makes the COVID-19 situation surreal is that back in February 2020 as coronavirus cases began escalating in Wuhan, China and other countries in the SE region, most of the Western world labelled it like the flu that would quickly pass. Only in March, Western governments began to take notice as cases started to arrive on their doorsteps, and by that time, people started getting sick. Suddenly, the situation was much more complicated and threatening to life. It was no longer a Chinese virus!
Fast forward to today, and we are witnessing a devastating and terrifying event that is shocking us all to our core. The loss of life has been colossal with no let-up in the global death toll. In an interview with the BBC, eminent medical researcher Sir Jeremy Farrar said that the UK was on course to have the highest numbers of deaths, exceeding Italy – that is quite a sobering thought. According to experts, our only way out of this is a viable vaccine, but even that is 12 to 18 months away. In the meantime, though, a mixed approach of testing, contact tracing, isolating the infected and sporadic periods of lockdown are recognized as interim solutions.
As the world economy grinds to a halt, there are some harsh lessons for us all to learn, and we need to learn them fast. It feels like the world has finally broken, and it’s collectively up to us to help fix it. What is happening to the world right now should be seen as its performance review. It should be the defining moment that a mirror was held up to the world, and the world saw how fragile and vulnerable it is. For us to thrive as humankind, we need to change our behaviours, and we can do that by changing the way we live. We would be foolish to think that we can go back to being as it was before the pandemic. Expect changes to come at the government level, company level and at an individual level. Here are some areas where I think we could get quick wins to live more sustainably and responsibly.
Companies will need to review their business models: Do companies require their employees to work from their office, or can their jobs be done just as productively by working from home (WFH)? Many companies in this pandemic that have usually resisted WFH before the crisis are inadvertently finding out that there are economic and employee engagement benefits of WFH for them.
Brand: We have seen the ugly side of companies during this pandemic. You only need to browse through the various online articles and news stories to understand the lack of compassion and poor judgement exercised by senior leaders in companies. Companies run the risk of negatively impacting their brand. Here’s a handy resource that names and shames employers in how they treat employees.
Cleanliness: People are realizing that they are not as clean as they once thought they were. People are going to be paranoid about their cleanliness and cleaning regimes from now on.
Climate: The lockdowns across the world saw a dramatic reduction in CO2 levels globally. In Venice, the water became cleaner, the smog in China’s polluting industrial hubs reduced, people’ drove their cars less. COVID-19 has given governments a lot to think about who all have ambitious targets to reduce their CO2 levels. Surprisingly, it has shown that with intervention, climate change can be curtailed. This will be a headache for policymakers as they review their plans.
Despite all that we have lost because of COVID-19, my feelings are turning to hope. Hope for a better future for ourselves and future generations. The biggest gift humankind can give itself is to learn from the mistakes, and to improve upon the weaknesses that have been shockingly exposed during the crisis. To find the right answers, we need to ask the right questions – profound questions! Who exactly are we, and what sort of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? These fundamental questions will help us reveal the solutions to the success of our existence.
Western countries are lagging in their battle against COVID – 19. In almost all of the countries in the Western world, not enough testing is being done, healthcare professionals do not have the adequate equipment, lack of or no contact tracing of COVID – 19 cases, and failure of the general public to observe social distancing properly. There is a sense that Western countries are out of their depth.
This week we have seen the deaths of two teenagers from COVID–19 in the UK – one fatality was 13 and did not have an underlying health condition. As a Brit, I am struggling to understand why the UK response has been so lacking given our relatively good record of dealing with major crises and incidents.
With global confirmed cases approaching 900,000, I’ve been reflecting on some of the responses governments across the world have put in place to deal with COVID–19. While most countries in the East, especially in the Far East have responded impressively and mobilized resources at short notice, what is still lacking in the West is a coordinated and more aggressive response overall. The battle against COVID-19 must be fought on several fronts. What we need to see all governments do is:
- Ensure medical specialists treating COVID-19 patients have adequate equipment and appropriate facilities for treatment
- Expand the level of testing of frontline healthcare staff, and increase testing of the general public through dedicated testing centres or home testing kits
- COVID–19 testing of employees in companies that have more than 250 employees.
More contact tracing through enhanced surveillance of COVID–19 cases. South Korean have been quite successful at this through their dedicated app. There are critics to this approach as it raises privacy concerns, but this is like wartime, and desperate times call for drastic measures
- Better and consistent enforcement of the lockdown protocol to guarantee the success of social distancing
- Government stimulus packages for the aviation sector and airlines. Potential job losses at Swissport, Dnata, Menzies Aviation, Virgin would be devastating for the world economy. We will need them once COVID -19 recedes to help us get back to reality and reuniting people that are currently stuck overseas and are living apart from their relatives
- Rigorous monitoring of passengers at seaport, airports and transit points to serve as the first line of defence. Because we are about a year away from a COVID-19 vaccine, this monitoring should be indefinite as we are expecting a second wave of COVID–19 in the winter months, albeit with lesser ferocity
- Schools should remain closed until the infection rate drops significantly
There is still much that we do not know about COVID-19, but Western governments need to be on the front foot, and they will only be able to do that if they adopt the best practices of other countries that have been successful in their COVID – 19 response.
The COVID – 19 crisis has brought the entire world to its knees. What started in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019 has quickly escalated into a global pandemic that is testing the social fabric of societies across the world.
As the crisis escalates, perplexingly, we are seeing startling differences in the way the crisis is being managed. Eastern governments have taken the aggressive approach with early intervention, extensive testing, mandatory lockdowns (as in China) as well as rapid upscaling of critical infrastructure (as seen in China with the construction of two hospitals in 2 weeks). Western governments, on the other hand, have operated at a pedestrian pace and have been laissez-faire in their approach, which has resulted in COVID – 19 cases spiralling out of control.
It is in these challenging times we must keep the human spirit alive. Below are 12 quotes that put the current crisis into perspective, and offer some insight into how to cope during this time of duress.
“Reduce transmission. Do not just let this fire burn.” – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa
“The COVID – 19 outbreak is having serious consequences for factory and gig workers, and global supply chains. Let’s learn the lessons of the 08-09 financial crisis and design income support that working families and businesses need.” – Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Federation
“Social distancing is our current best defence against COVID-19.” – Michelle A. Williams, Dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA
“A significant proportion of the global population could be infected” – Professor Yik-Ying TEO, Dean, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore
“Over-reacting is better than non-reacting” – Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, Dean and Professor of School of Public Health, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
“Focused, effective communication and shared trust are essential.” – Landon Myer, epidemiologist, University of Cape Town
“If we continue with business as usual, this will blow up really quickly.” – Michal Caspi Tal, PhD, Instructor at Stanford Medical School
“I genuinely believe the responsible thing to do right now with the Coronavirus is to stay home from work, so we don’t all spread it. One boring month working from home and watching Netflix inside after hours is worth it if we can slow down the spread of the virus like China did. It’s time for us to be responsible adults and own what is happening. The virus is not something to be feared; it’s something to contain as soon as possible through responsible action.” – Tim Denning
“In this information age, fear and concern around health issues like the Coronavirus can be amplified. It is more important than ever to check in with yourself and assess how you are doing – not only physically, but also mentally.” – SHRM
“If I were in office today. I’d pick up the phone to Washington and seek a meeting of G20 leaders, Health Ministers & Finance Ministers. Markets need to see the world’s 20 biggest economies are acting together in solidarity and will use stimulus as needed to overcome Coronavirus.” – Kevin Rudd, 26th (Former) Prime Minister of Australia
“If the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it is the lengths some people will go to when desperate. Next time you want to judge boat people, refugees, migrants fleeing war-torn land – remember we fought over toilet paper.” – Fraz Butt
Let’s hope that things take a step in a positive direction, and we can get on top of this crisis soon. We stand to lose a lot if we do not work together collaboratively, compassionately, and in solidarity as a global community.
Whatever you do, look after yourself, your friends and your loved ones.
Career stagnation is one of the most frustrating experiences anybody can go through. Some people have continuous career success; some experience lulls and some end up in a downward spiral and struggle to pick themselves up.
To get around this, you need to peel back the layers to understand what is behind the crisis, and that involves a proper understanding of what inspires and motivates you. Here are eleven thought-provoking questions you need to ask yourself to help you put an action plan together to get you back on track.
1. Am I using my time, background and experience effectively?
2. What things can I control in my career?
3. What is achievable?
4. How do I come across to others?
5. What are my weaknesses?
6. What’s great about my career so far?
7. What are my core values?
8. Am I aligned with my values?
9. What does success look like to me?
10. Where do I want to be in my career five years from now?
11. How can I move forward and facilitate the achievement of my goals?
In the words of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “success at anything will always come down to this: focus and effort and we control both.” Regardless of where you are in your career, your attitude will play a crucial part in determining your career trajectory.