Outcomes of the US Lockdown for Coronavirus: A Stoic Perspective
Governments around the world have locked down their economies. By locked down, I of course mean shut down. This coronavirus lockdown has impacted families, businesses, and nations in negative ways, and it may take decades to recover. My experience with the US lockdown has been very fortunate. I work from home, and have been something of a social distancer for most of my adult life. “Experts” will speculate on whether or not the US lockdown was worth it. The debates that ensue will create fodder for mainstream media to monetize in their quest for clicks and views, while the rest of society argues with people on Facebook and Twitter, and in real life. One fact remains: the lockdown happened, and there is nothing we can do about that. As a stoic, I think about what comes next, and how to make the most of it.
A Boom in Remote Work Environments After the US Lockdown
The US lockdown had a positive outcome. Companies were forced into agility by the government lockdown. Consequently, those industries that could continue to operate remotely did so. Zoom acquired millions of new users and their stock soared, while antiquated businesses entered the Millennium. People were saved the costs in time and money associated with commuting to work. As a society, we did use more energy at home, and there was a cost for this. But we used less energy at work since offices were closed. We also commuted less and probably released less carbon into the atmosphere.
Many companies were already letting their teams work from home—for years. I’ve had remote workers for twenty years, and I’ve worked on and off as a remote contractor myself. Many new companies have already followed this trend, and eventually, older companies would follow suit. The fear they have is likely due to trust issues. Decision-makers with long careers like old paradigms. These work frameworks consist of physical office space, physical meetings, and water cooler chats did not want to change what was already working. Now, some of these older companies will realize that they can trust their employees to be productive. They can be profitable, and they can provide their employees with greater life-work balance.
Many workers have also had a taste of freedom as they became remote workers overnight. And for many of them, it was delicious. Consequently, many of these people will put pressure on their employers to at least create a hybrid scenario where people may work from home for a day or more each week. This also becomes a benefit that competing companies may offer. I imagine that some people would take a lower salary, if it meant that they could have greater flexibility, more time, and lower costs.
So, while I do believe that we have been moving in this direction for decades, I also believe that the lockdown has accelerated this process. Corporate leadership styles will change, and this is a good thing.
Families are Stronger Due to the US Lockdown
Americans haven’t been eating out at restaurants for months. They’ve also benefited from having more hours in the day due to the elimination of commutes. They’re working from home, they’re cooking at home, and they’re eating at home. Family dinner has become an event, and escaping home arrest once per week to go food shopping has become a rewarding experience. Husbands and wives have experienced life where they see each other, and their kids, all day long.
In many cases, this is a blessing for which many people feel gratitude. In a few cases, the opposite happened. Some people will get divorced and their family dynamics will change. At first, this can be a traumatic experience, but it can lead to greater happiness for unhappy spouses as they begin the next chapter in their lives. The lockdown probably did not cause married couples to divorce one another—it just accelerated the inevitable. This is a good outcome.
People Will Think About the Future After the US Lockdown
Many people lost their jobs as a consequence of the government shutdown of the economy. To date, there are around 40 million people who are now out of work. That’s a lot. There probably isn’t a way to measure the impact on people’s lives as a consequence of unemployment, compared to the possible lives saved as a result of the lockdown. We do now that people have survived on their savings, if they had any. Others registered for government programs to help them survive until the lockdown is over. Some people lost their homes, their jobs, and their hopes for success. Some people probably died.
These are not good outcomes, but there is hope. People who survive the lockdown will think about their career choices. They’ll think about automation and future lockdowns, and their chances of success in such an environment. Some of these people will learn new skills to begin more sustainable career paths. Many people have already used their free time at home to learn new skills, rather than spending all of that time on the couch, playing on the internet, and watching TV. These people will do better in the future, when the world will look entirely different than it does today.
Get Back Into Your Good Habits
Have you been meditating, journaling, and otherwise keeping up with your stoic habits? I know that I have personally been less diligent about my daily rituals. It’s easier to maintain my stoic lifestyle when I have time alone to reflect on my thoughts. I also know that these are excuses, and that I feel better when I partake in the healthy habits that I have developed in recent years. It’s time to get back to work, stoic.