• August 6th, 2020

Weekly take away with Lawrence Kamwi - Reflecting on controls, restrictions and adaptations

Like other services, church denominations have over the last month or more used the safe world of digital media in support of social distancing. My fellowship has successfully used such devices as YouTube, Instagram, Zoom and GoToMeeting to reach members. Yet underlying the brave attempts is the constant reminder that people miss interaction.

Almost everyone asks “when it will be safe to go out again.” Others complain that staying indoors may contribute to instances that are more dangerous than anything outside. Specialist voices wonder whether relaxations of lockdowns may push Covid-19 transmission rates up. Are handshakes gone for good?

The global community once more finds itself reviewing plans, implementation and lessons learned. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) writes that results or performance based management involves “articulating and agreeing on objectives, selecting indicators and setting targets, monitoring performance (collecting data on results), and analysing and reporting results vis-a-vis the targets.”

Quick surveys point to certain threads of questions that are shaping conversations which communities are engaged in, as the world takes measured, risk-adjusted steps, towards a return to normal life. But one immediately realises that in this phrase lies another difficulty, namely, what “normal” will be like. The sentiment of “with great freedom comes great responsibility” pervades the air.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said that, “we are opening up the economy, but we are not opening up people’s social lives.”
The anxiety, caution, full-bodied consultations – the almost paralysing but necessary analysis – cannot be wished away. A media commentator has observed that, “the news industry isn’t used to this kind of situation, when a story is so big that the sheer gravity of it pulls the world around it to a standstill.” 

I dare say that nothing at all – especially in modern life – was prepared for the current health situation and the challenges it has thrown at humanity to “recreate a facsimile of business-as-usual.”
Employee engagement and performance research suggests that most workers would like to continue working from home. Preferences vary from a few days per week to full-time remote work. It is thus fair to surmise that part of the return to normal life should focus on improving work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. 

An assortment of views shows that it is time to re-evaluate the demands on a worker’s location against a worker’s knowledge, skills, and experience. Admittedly, cultural values and resource availability must also remain in focus.
The CEO of Firstbase, Chris Herd, says that “remote teams can hire the best person they can afford on the planet because they allow people to work when they are most productive rather than prescribing a singular approach.”
Zara Greenbaum of the American Psychological Association writes that, “people choose to work remotely to avoid daily commutes, reduce workplace distractions and fulfil family care responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, a preliminary Airtasker survey has revealed that “remote employees work nearly seventeen additional days a year...while fifteen percent of remote workers say their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the twenty-two percent of office-based employees.”
However, the Airtasker research also shows that “remote employees reported higher levels of stress and more difficulty finding work-life balance.” Not surprisingly, some researchers note that “teleworking is rarely an all-or-nothing arrangement.”
The blurred boundaries between work and personal life cannot however stop what the Resilience Institute calls the “biggest work-from-home experiment.”

“Covid-19 is going to trigger experiments that will test human, technological and organisational resilience and ingenuity. What happens in a future where Covid-19 is but one of many threats, ranging from virus to terror, climate to political unrest?”
The argument resonates with journalists Bhaskar Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi who write that, “the world has launched a sweeping series of experiments, testing not only how to flatten the curve of the pandemic, but also how possible it is for economies to survive when they move whatever is possible online.”

Staff Reporter
2020-05-08 10:17:01 | 2 months ago

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