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So here we are heading fast towards the post – covid-19 “New Normal” of remote work and reduced interactions. But as we transition towards that future, we are seeing some disturbing issues that need to be looked at seriously, especially since some of them may well be permanent features of this new future of ours. The lockdowns and social distancing being practiced in different countries have already shown many effects, some predictable and some surprising, on work and productivity.

Human beings are social creatures and absolutely need interaction to be able to function at their happiest and best. In times of crisis, reassurance is one of the vital functions that we derive from our interactions. Covid-19 has denied us of this. The nature of this disease has necessitated the imposition of strict lockdown and distancing measures in almost every country on the globe and these measures are not without their consequences. These consequences being profound changes in our personal and professional relationships.

On the personal side, lockdowns and distancing threaten to weaken and fray relationships which need contact to build and maintain. Visiting friends becomes rare; family outings are a logistical nightmare and hugging parents and friends is suddenly impossible. For workers, bouncing ideas off each other at the drop of a hat is now a thing of the past. Also, in the new normal of remote work, staff burnout becomes a real concern as many workers may find it hard to disconnect from work at the end of the day, since work provides what feels like an essential distraction from their worries.

This all brings about feelings of loneliness and isolation which, in this pandemic, add to the sense of lack of control over our lives. In addition, we have to live with fears and uncertainty; how long will this last? Will I get sick? Will I recover? What about finances…? And the information overload we are bombarded with as every other news item, social media post or YouTube video seems to be about covid-19, certainly does not help.

These feelings and the circumstances we are forced to deal with can and do bring stress and the potential drop in productivity that comes with it. There are various coping mechanisms being recommended depending on the nature and source of the stress. One idea is to avoid boredom and idle time by starting or continuing a hobby, learning a new language, skill or even taking up video games. 

Positivity is another great way to deal with stress. To build these feelings, try doing something helpful for others. Being useful or serving others is a source of great contentment to many, it may surprise you too.

Social media and technology are also ways that many are turning to and using very creatively to maintain contact and relationships. More and more, people are using video conferencing platforms in addition to the previously more commonly used text and picture based platforms such as Facebook, although these platforms (Facebook; Twitter; Instagram etc.) still play a vital role in keeping people connected to each other. Surprisingly, this pandemic has also brought about a resurgence in the use of an old technology: The Telephone.

Going forward, the psychological and social ramifications of remote working will have to be weighed against the potential gains to employers and workers. However, in the short term, survival and success for individuals and businesses will depend on resilience; financial and emotional resilience, both of which deserve their own conversations.

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