Part II: Working from home and home life

What a week! What a difference we have seen – there were no restrictions last week and we were allowed to move freely, but this week has been very different. 13 March 2020 may soon be remembered in the same way as the attacks on 22 March 2016 – a day that no one will forget. A lot changed very quickly. We have to fully adapt to the measures imposed on us to flatten the curve and thus not overload the health system. And we are doing it en masse – something we can certainly compliment ourselves for.

However, this physical isolation is a small sacrifice compared to the efforts required of the healthcare staff in our hospitals. A crucial week is coming for them. A week in which we hope our joint efforts of “in ons kot blijven”, as Maggie De Block describes it (much like Boris Johnson’s very simple “Stay at Home” message), will pay off. We hope the result will be that the hospital admission curve will slow, level off and then fall. Our care workers are leaving their homes every day to go and work in the front line. They don’t know what their next work shift will bring. They have to prepare for a storm every day. And a huge mental and physical effort is required of them to do this. For them, the whole of Belgium is standing in solidarity and people take time out to applaud them for a few minutes: a small, but perfectly justified sign of recognition.

The first week of the mild lock-down was hectic and shook us up economically. Borders closed for non-essential movements, airlines cut all flights, and some production plants were closed due to a lack of personnel or parts.

Our colleagues are also without orders temporarily, and this is due to certain customers closing. The government has relaxed the regulations for temporary unemployment for this. This ensures the loss of our purchasing power will be counteracted in some way. In addition, it allows us as an employer to stay afloat and keep everyone on board so we can continue together at a later date. 

On a positive note, 80% of the Cronosites are still at work. We have even managed to sign up a few new orders and projects. Several of our companies are receiving additional requests and work. Our sales team continue to actively search for projects, and are often managing to even sell them from home. Milestones and deadlines are still being met with our customers. Wow! We can be very proud of this.

The situation is changing day after day. We are now in “week two” of what is our new normal: working from home and living at home.

We are all looking to achieve a balance between home work and home education. I myself am already finding this to be a very hard challenge. I suspect most of you have already noticed that one of the side effects of working from home is that you work from 6.00 AM to 10.00 PM. Therefore, when working from home, please try to stick to a fixed structure as you probably would have done when you “just” worked from the office. Working overtime from a false sense of responsibility or to gain control is not necessary. We are now working at home, perhaps with our children and partner present. So please remember that everything that is happening to you at the moment is also very strange to them, and they also need time to adjust. They are probably getting between you and your work, literally and figuratively. And this can sometimes leads to funny and embarrassing situations during, for example, (video) calls. But it is what it is, you sometimes just have to let it go. No one on the other side of the call is going to blame you or your kids. There is a very good chance that the customers/colleagues/suppliers/etc. you are talking to are also trying to deal with a similar situation. Laughing at your child’s funny pranks is a much better solution than trying frantically to avoid or hide them. This will give you energy instead of costing it.

We are all looking for our personal rhythm. Give yourself and others some time to achieve this. Don’t take on more responsibility than you can handle. Don’t minimise your personal needs because you don’t think they are important. It is normal to feel afraid or angry, under stress or to be sad and to try to find a way to deal with it. Talk about it during the digital “coffee chat”. Ask each other for help if needs be. Follow up on each other regularly in a meaningful way. Try to make social connections with others, and offer each other safety and support. This is how we will get through this together.

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that we will jump back into yesterday’s life with the flexibility of a youngster. Because that will cause problems as well. COVID-19 is forcing us to think about the way we organise our society – more than Anuna De Wever or Greta Thunberg ever could – now and in the future. Our awareness of COVID-19 is also slowly and rightly changing. Where most of us tried to put this virus into perspective or minimised it last week, we are slowly and quite rightly moving towards hesitant reflection about today and tomorrow. Communication in the media and the dry analysis of doctors and nurses who come face to face with reality are helping us with this. They are propelled by the fear of having to make the heartbreaking choices that lie ahead. So, we are all staying at home and making adjustments to our lifestyle. This is the greatest contribution we can currently make to overcome this health crisis.

Still, there is hope. History has proven many times that beautiful things arise from scorched earth. Soon we will be able to dream of a turning point in which we will wake up collectively in a new world. A world in which people are more creative, live healthier lives, and once again have an eye for what matters so we can make balanced choices.

Every day, people take impactful initiatives from solidarity. 

And what if you are currently without work, or you are bumping into the walls, or even if you would simply like to contribute?

Go to www.hulpvoorhelden.be or www.vlaanderenvrijwilligt.be

If your kids are going stir crazy during these exceptional times, take a look at: https://www.doublegum.be/samen-creatief/samencreatief-home

Indiville.be, an agency from Leuven is investigating the social and mental impact of the Coronavirus. Don’t hesitate to contact us. https://indiville.be/online-onderzoek-naar-sociale-en-mentale-impact-coronacrisis/

Talk to each other regularly, and take good care of yourselves.

#FlattenTheCurve #physicaldistancing #takecare #togetheragainstcorona

Take care & be safe

Wim

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