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With Covid-19 still around, are we ready to get back to the office? ... by Gustavo Leon

All of us, anywhere in the world, have been impacted one way or another by the current pandemic. After nine months of isolation and social distancing, for some others maybe more, one of the questions we may be facing at the moment is “are we ready to get back to the office to continue with the job we had? Many people think that we are in front of a new norm, and that we will never go back to work the way we were working before. However, many others believe that this pandemic, like others in the past, will also pass and that everything will return to the way it was before.

The coronavirus pandemic is not the first one to hit the human civilization. Throughout history there have been numerous pandemics, some of them much worse than COVID-19, claiming the lives of thousands or even millions of people. Ever since humans learned to live in groups forming communities and travelling across the seas, the world has seen numerous diseases spread like wildfire. Some of the most relevant ones being:

  • Antonine Plague (165-180 AD), breaking across the Roman Empire and reaching Asia and North Africa, and believed to be killing more than 2,000 people a day at its peak.

  • The Black Death (1347-1352), sweeping through Europe and Asia killing more than killing more than 25 million.

  • Smallpox (1870-1874), spreading throughout Europe, Asia, and America, and killing more than 500 thousand.

  • Russian Flu (1889-1890), killing more than one million people in Russia.

  • Spanish Flu (1918-1919), infecting 1/3 of the world population and killing more than 50 million people worldwide. It came in three waves and each time it was more deadly than before.

  • H3N2 (1968), HIV/AIDS (1981), and SARS (2002-2004), not to mention other pandemics that existed 3,000 BC to 100 BC.

From all these pandemics for sure the World Health Organization, and many doctors and scientists around the world, has learned a lot. However, the rest of the population, like in many other situations in life, have learned truly little from them. Why? Among other reasons, the time spread between these pandemics, or simply because as human beings we tend to forget and to relax after a while. Speaking from myself, and from what I have seen around me in the last 40 years. If we have truly learned from one of these pandemics, it was from HIV/AIDS, which have infected more than 65 million people and have really changed the way many of us behave.

What are the opposite views?

One thing is true about this pandemic, it has given most of us a lot time to think. How long will this pandemic last? Will there be a new normal after this? I do not know, and I will not speculate. What really matters is what you think.

During this time of isolation and social distancing, and thanks to new technologies that were not available to us before, we learned how to work from home. We also learned to appreciate being able to spend more time with our loved ones and enjoy the flexibility of working from home: not having to commute to work and back at the end of the day, being able to wake up a little bit later, not having to dress up as formally as before, the ability take more breaks, take anything from your own fridge, listen to your own music and even watch tv as you work, what a wonderful world!

On the other hand, you have a lot of people who are single or simply leave alone. People who does not have the benefits of all the comforts at home. People who really enjoy working and interacting with people in teams at work, or simply feed from the energy of being outside and socializing as much as they can.

On the more radical side, you have employers who believe productivity is suffering and the only way to recover is to have their employees back in the workplace.

True! This pandemic, together with the new technologies available to us, has brought a world of opportunities for other existing businesses and new start ups, which take us back to the leading question and to the time we have had to reflect about ourselves, our jobs, and our lives.

Do I really want to stay in my current job? Would this be a good time to consider a different job, or perhaps moving to a different industry. Would this be a good time to retire, maybe starting my own business, or simply investing on getting better at what I currently do and love. If that is not the case, should I reach deep inside me and discover my current Ikigai (Japanese word for “reason for being”).

What can you do?

What ever your situation is, you are not alone! You are not the only person going through this kind of questions. There are people out there who can and are willing to help you find the answers to all your questions, and create a new level of self awareness that will allow you to move on with confidence through any change the world will bring to us. The only constant is change, and we need to learn to adapt quickly and develop the resilient we need to go through the setbacks.

Be it career transition, career development, retirement, business, or executive coaching, we are here to help you navigate through the challenges and opportunities that this pandemic is bringing to us.

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