Coping with COVID

2020 has been a year of change and not in the way many of us envisioned. As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, we’ve seen rapid changes across the board. It’s a virus that doesn’t discriminate and it has pushed us all, business and personal alike, to reevaluate our daily routines. From face-masks to maintaining distances in public spaces to being unable to visit or even hug your loved ones. We’ve gone through a major upheaval in how we interact with the world and taking these new factors into consideration has, quite naturally, brought about various psychological responses from everyone.

It is simply not an easy situation to stomach.

At home in Trinidad and Tobago, the level of uncertainty has not been any different from the rest of the world. We’ve watched the situation unfold and taken stock of the many measures the local authorities have put in place to keep us as informed and safe as possible. It’s everyone’s hope that things fully return to normal in the not-so-far-future. But, given the nature of COVID, what exactly is ‘normal’? As we transition into a careful re-opening of the country and economy, perhaps this is a good time to redefine the word, embrace changes, and uncover opportunities from this situation. Here are some things we can reflect on and action:

Businesses can (and should) change

If there’s one thing we can agree on, COVID has shown how quickly and severely things can change. The viability of our established day-to-day routines were rendered null within a few days and weeks. Many businesses were forced to pause operations or even permanently close. For those that haven’t and those that are able, there’s been a massive shift to a remote workforce. The technology is more than available to create an infrastructure that provides a flexible environment for employees. For businesses themselves, this is an opportunity to dig deep into legacy operations and policies, for example, having a crisis management plan, and streamline them in preparation for the future. Customer behaviour has and will continue to adapt even after the re-opening, and businesses need to do the same.

Using technology for good

There has been an increased use of video-conferencing software, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, going beyond its traditional, professional use. People from around the world are hosting virtual conferences, office cooldowns, community meetups, dance parties, and a host of other creative activities. Social media is also bringing and keeping us closer together, with many local media houses and brands offering virtual tutoring, concerts and cooking classes. Barriers to each other and to the world became that much smaller in the last few months. Trinidad and Tobago’s re-opening doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate return to our usual routines. We must be cognizant of our environment, blending those technological connections with our safe shift into offline pursuits.

Adapting to ‘living with COVID’

With various local stipulations still in place for the virus, there’s an understanding that certain measures will continue well beyond the country’s re-opening. As persons return to work, and especially those on the front line, there will be a high level of anxiousness in increasingly crowded spaces. The business community must be committed to strict sanitization practices, maintaining distancing, regulating customer traffic, and having a mask policy, as suggested by the Ministry of Health. Citizens must keep stock of their surroundings and show restraint in flooding popular pastimes and destinations as they open. In the absence of a vaccine, less restrictions can only be implemented successfully if we are our neighbour’s keeper.

Appreciating the little things

It goes without saying that nothing is permanent. As we’ve clearly seen over the last half year, things are much more transient that we imagine. The virus has forced us to assess and adapt our daily lives, and while it is not an ideal way of living, it has given us time to consider brand new and sometimes uncomfortable perspectives. But there is good here, as well, as briefly outlined in this blog and in our simple reflection on how we continue to be forces for good, no matter how the situation evolves. Let’s work together to make Trinidad and Tobago’s re-opening something to be proud of.

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