Even in the worst of situations can earn you something. As the general lockdown simmers down and things look like moving past social distancing to a lighter second phase of measures, I made a list of the good things that I came to realize while in quarantine. Sometimes you need to step back from your routine and be forced to a new reality to evaluate beneficial changes in your life that aren’t otherwise obvious. During the lockdown, I discussed with lots of partners and customers and I noticed these 7 distinctive patterns when asking them “clearly, this situation is tough, however, is there anything good to gain out of it?”

  • Despite the problems, this is one of the rare times in human history that almost all people and nations are working together to avoid a catastrophe from happening; this global engagement and approach because of Covid-19 will be an asset for our future and will help us collaborate better with other universal problems like climate change.
  • We learned to listen to the experts and value the scientific way of thinking. For sure, fake news is still here and will always lurk for the weak-minded in social media but, as things went tough, we trusted our future in science’s hands and that’s good news.
  • Having managed to stay quite as productive at work as before the lockdown, we feel at the same timeless worn-out, more refreshed, and relaxed. A “do nothing after work '' is beneficial to our work-life balance and this extends to our social life’s side, not only work’s as we would imagine. We are not evolved to live in an on-going pressure and it’s critical from time to time to take a break and step back without doing anything. If I did so before the lockdown, I almost felt guilty and lazy – now that I didn’t have any option, I realized how much right this is!
  • Many leaders had more time for strategic thinking instead of “reacting to external stimuli” and found themselves the time to deep dive into their businesses, focusing on being productive instead of busy; bringing their attention to things that would otherwise have been hidden by daily distractions. Finally, it was a golden opportunity for them to lead with purpose and humanity, which is something that capitalism very seldom offers that generously.
  • Remote working is already the new normal. This will be also a huge push in business productivity where people from anywhere in the world will collaborate and feel like working in the same office; it’s worth mentioning that one of my managers noticed a 20% increase in productivity with his team. Moreover, it will be a win against geographical inequality and allow people to enjoy a higher quality of living outside business metropolitan areas. In Pobuca we have had the infrastructure for remote working since 2010, however, we realized the value to its full extent now with the lockdown. For sure we need to live human interaction too, as there is always a potential lack of innovation with remote teams, as great ideas usually come from physical team-work and strong human relations. And we can therefore see more flexible collaboration practices in the near future: co-working spaces and more hot-desking, hybrid live and virtual meetings on any device and place, isolated deep work from home (or in a café), more sophisticated noise-canceling headsets (a challenge to all hardware vendors: noise cancel my 3-year daughter screams when I am having video calls! 😊)
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  • Remote working comes hand by hand with flexible start and finishes times. At first glance, this looks great, as there is more flexibility to take care of your loved ones, do household chores, and myriad other tasks. However, there is also a threat to work-life balance as many people end-up working all day. Businesses should find ways to set realistic targets to their employees and the latter to find “buffers” in their schedules when working from home: catch their breaths, get some exercise, or whatever they enjoy doing that helps put their mind at ease.
  • There was a rapid digital transformation of the public sector globally (especially in Greece the results were unbelievable). In the last 2 months, many e-government services were launched that otherwise would take months or years. This is a social asset for the day after, as no one wants to queue for a bureaucratic issue - with or without lockdown.
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Finally, something that got stuck into my mind since the lockdown started and I really want your opinions to the aid here. In the last 2 months my life has, like everyone’s, slowed down; in the beginning, it was frightening, but has built up to something really appreciable - that is the slowdown, not the lockdown of course. Are we to keep up enjoying a better quality of life with a possible compromise of economic slowdown, will we persist in having this more easy-going and relaxed way of living? Can we convince ourselves to be less rich but much happier? The core value of Enlightenment is to pursue human happiness, but we appear to forget this and solely focus on economic growth and accumulation of power. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that capitalism is the only economic system that actually works to this day and I know that it has growth and velocity within its core. Moreover, I fully understand that if we are to slow down economic growth, many side-effects will appear and lots of people's lives will be affected by getting poorer or unemployed. However, if we insist that to increase overall happiness is humanity’s core value, we have to ask ourselves about this: who is happier, a wealthy white-collar executive that lives in Manhattan, or a poor street musician in Cuba? I understand that these 2 examples are at the edges of the spectrum, but I wanted to make sure that my point is taken. I strongly believe that this can be one of the Covid-19 legacies, to search for the answers to such questions in a universal level and try to integrate new things in the perception of our well-being, especially in the following years that AI will increasingly support economic growth, leaving more space for initiatives that will focus on human happiness, hopefully not selectively, but to its entirety.