Over the past 50+ years, our culture has prized the individual to an extreme degree. Coupled with dramatic advances in technology, our culture’s hyper-individualism has led to a crisis of the self. You might even say the lack of self. It’s a fundamental lack of knowing ourselves. Part of this is a lack of means. There is very little sense of a greater community who can work with and through us to help us find our way (further up and further in, as C.S. Lewis’s Aslan and others said in the Narnia tales.)
In one sense, it may seem ironic that an emphasis on the individual has led to a lack of the individual’s very self-understanding. In another, with a little understanding about who were are collectively, it makes all the sense in the world.
COVID-19 may prove to be a watershed moment on many fronts. How will the health system respond? What about educational institutions? What about work culture and the mindset that requires employees to be physically present from 9–5 when it’s already been proven in study after study that employees who work less hours are generally happier and more productive? The fact is, many of us can get more done from our homes and working on our own time. With our urban centers and highways increasing in density and congestion every year, many of us will find we must work from home. What will be the result of this mass migration into our homes and online?
This is a classic “crisis and opportunity” moment, and it holds true for the public and private sector. From a business perspective, it’s basic economics: your employees will be more productive. If they’re not at least as productive as they would be sitting in the office, then you can’t trust them with their time anyway. Employers should maybe manage better? If you really can’t trust them, they’re not a good employee. Also, if you want to attract and keep the best talent, you’re going to have to go remote.
As employees, we’ll have more time (because we’ll be more efficient with our time), but here’s the kicker: we’ll been even more alone. Without the socialization of the work culture, we’ll need to find community. Some of that community will be found from real-live human-to-human interaction with the locals. Some of it will, strangely enough, be found online. Big Self is at work on providing these very opportunities during this time of crisis like through our virtual inner circles initiative, which are filling up fast.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will disrupt industries and economies. This is a turning point moment. It will bring the welcome news of recognizing that the old ways of viewing worker productivity are just that — old. But it also brings a new set of issues for our wellbeing. Crisis and opportunity.
But therein lies yet another opportunity. Within the increased isolation will be the opportunity of more time, and more incentive and desire to reach out and connect, and to — finally, belatedly — work on ourselves. No one said it would be easy, but no one said it would be this possible.
For more on what the Big Self movement is all about, check us out at the Big Self Society on Facebook.