As of today, March 19th, we are globally at a point where nobody can’t close their eyes anymore in regard of the ongoing Corona Virus Crisis. Countries are shutting down and denying entrance to incoming people. Unprecedented measures are taken to get things under control.
This article will go into some thoughts about what this ongoing global crisis means for those of us who work remotely.
We won’t give any advice of what to do or not to do in this situation as we know as little as everybody else what is going to happen. And probably you already read more stuff than you would have wished about how to behave right now, that we need to “flatten the curve” and chances are you already got forwarded a fake message on Whatsapp or so from a friend about that Corona Virus can actually can cure itself with X recipe.
The simple intention here is to lay out some thoughts that might help you to overcome your anxiety and stress level a bit. It’s absolutely fine; all of us are in the same boat. Some play it cool, some are more agitated. Some try to ignore it as much as possible; some are consuming one piece of information at a time about the ongoing crisis.
THE POSITIVE SIDE: SOME NECESSARY DEVELOPMENTS WILL BE ACCELERATED
For those of us who are already location independent we might actually feel a bit like the winners. While companies around the globe hastily come up with home office solutions for their employees where they can with little to no experience concerning this topic, you might be thinking – yeah, business as usual.
Well, only as long as you can continue your work as you are used to doing right about these days. It is easily possible that you might have a job, a project or clients that change their priorities drastically and you see yourself confronted with serious financial issues coming up. Many of us location independents are affected by this – which at the same time shows how fragile this whole lifestyle actually can be.
As an experienced location independent chances are you can easily adjust to a new situation as you had it already many times before.
In case you are already experienced with location independent lifestyle and have nomadic experiences you will have less of a hard time than other people to adapt to news situations. How many times did you already have to adapt to a new environment, met new people, had to deal with difficult situations and had to make some bold decisions? Many, many times probably. And more often than not you probably made those decisions on your own as there was nobody adequate around who could have given you a decent feedback anyway.
Sure, let’s not argue, this situation right now is unprecedented. Nobody, I repeat nobody has any clue about what is going to happen and change tomorrow, what measures make sense right now or if your visa-run-plans scheduled in a couple of days from now are actually going to happen; and if so, in which way.
And then there is this old wisdom that in every crisis are also new chances and opportunities.
Now, don’t get this wrong please. You might deal with friends or family members who are currently affected by Corona (maybe even yourself?) and you might perceive it as an affront when people now talk about chances in the crisis. To say this clearly: for us as an individual this crisis can be a catastrophe. Your small business might be ruined, your little savings are going down the drain or you even lose someone.
For us individually this crisis can be a catastrophe. For society it will have a curing effect.
Yet, a glimpse to the bright side should be allowed. As much as some bad jokes here and there to cheer up the mood.
Home office/remote work
My guess is that home office and remote work will become much more accepted and mainstream. Hence, it will also be applied in more cases. This is great as there are still many cases nowadays where torturing yourself through the daily commute and dealing with an office atmosphere which is simply not everybody’s world should be a matter of the past. See boss, it actually works!
Similar to the Eyjafjallajökull (damn it, can you actually pronounce that?) volcano eruptions on Iceland in April 20101, for the climate this crisis is a real blessing. Okay, there might be a bunch of more face masks going into the ocean right now which is of course not great. But the emissions from transportation and industry are cutting back these days.2 And some people should get it by now that a skype conversation is the better alternative to a business flight for closing a deal. Definitely a positive thing, inhale deeply! Well, it might be only a drop on the hot stone though.
For our personal lives
And the slight hope is that some people might realize for themselves what actually really matters to them in their lives. Stressed people who are forced to have a break can now spend some well-needed time with their family or could come up with some ideas of what they actually want to do in life. Well, or they just get lost spending hours on scrolling at the mobile phone screen, who knows.
THE NEGATIVE SIDE: THE IMPACT ON YOUR PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING
The crisis can, it will become an emotional and psychological crucial test for each of us. Masks are going to fall and people will have to show their real face. Are you willing to cut back on your personal interests in order to help society and stay at home? Or are you primarily concerned about your own things and opt in for a corona party? But above all: how will each of us deal with the social isolation that we are inevitably facing right now?
You might look at it and say – hey awesome, I have now even more time and capacities to get shit done, start reading the book that I always wanted to read and can finally start another project – well, it is probably not that easy. No matter if you can make it 4, 8 or 12 hours per day to work on your stuff, at some point you stop and wish to go out and catch up with some people……ah wait, wasn’t there something?
The social isolation, the uncertainty, potential economic loss that we are facing…all of that can determine and change our everyday life all of a sudden. It will have an impact on us.
We can get into an emergency situation that can change our everyday life tremendously.
Generally speaking, we location independents have to deal with pretty much the same things as everybody else. We are not any special or so regarding this. The extra challenge, however, that we location independents have to deal with right now is that you might be in a place where you might not really have people or friends and/or family around.
To my personal understanding, this is the major difference to “regular” people. They have their social contacts around them and even if countries like Spain or Italy have a total lockdown right now (means you cannot even leave your place, literally), at least there is this feeling that they are not far away. This might be different for you, regardless if you are hanging out in place in South East Asia, Latin America or wherever.
We location independents have the extra challenge to deal with an environment where we might not have friends and family close to us
And it is exactly this feeling of being far away from your closest contacts which can cause extra trouble. Consciously or unconsciously, you are more distressed; spend even more time on digging in some news or other things that don’t really make sense when you look at it. Like reading this article, does it really help you right now? Well, if it helps one person out there I am more than happy to have spent this time on it.
One thing I might dare to predict: we will have a new kind of normality emerging into our world with this event. This is a historical moment where some things will never be the same again. I am curious how our world going to look like.
HE WHO HAS A “WHY” TO LIVE CAN BEAR WITH ALMOST ANY “HOW”
(Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning)
So here is a thing for your mental health that I would like to share with you. Viktor E. Frankl survived the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War in Germany. During that time he had basically observed that those who were certain about the fact that there was something out there that was still due to be fulfilled by them were much more apt to survive. This should not be misunderstood as there were many people dying who badly wanted to live. The point is that those who had a strong belief, a strong “Why” for the time ever after could deal with the incredibly horrifying situation better and had higher rates of survival.
Now, the situation today is certainly a bit different. However, this piece of wisdom can be well applied here, too. It makes a huge difference if you randomly bum around on Facebook reading endlessly comments and things about the crisis, becoming nervous and anxious yourself after all and ending your days with headaches and not being able to sleep well. Or if you create a spontaneous online video session for some of your folks where everyone can talk about their current feelings, sharing constructive ideas and have a digital toast together.
You will need this psychological health in this situation for yourself, so stay in touch with friends and family. Lucky enough, we live in a time of internet, free video calls and messengers that work around the globe and through as many time zones as you want.
Your personal psychological health can make all the difference. When you sense that there is something waiting for you out there chances are your “Why” will get you through almost any “How”
And I am sure that in a few months from now we will look back at the time when this mass hysteria took its course and will be mesmerized about a couple of things. Maybe we’ll find out that the fear of social abstinence that we had to go through actually didn’t lead to social isolation. Renunciations didn’t mean necessarily a loss to us but actually offered us new ways and opportunities. We got more in touch with old friends and distant family members again. People that were fully immersed into their hectic jobs and everyday life will do long walks into nature, something that was seemingly impossible before.
Stay strong and healthy, each and every one of you!
1 Check out this article on Wikipedia for more information
2 You can surely find more articles about that, here is one.