In exponential circumstances for a while seemingly nothing much happens until everything happens. I’m glad we took precautions the day before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Netherlands, having seen the empty supermarket shelves after Milano took the first more stringent measures. In the mad rush after the measures of the last 48 hours, we’re seeing empty shelves here too. Pasta, potatoes, bread, pre baked oven ready bread, toilet paper, and paracetamol, all have vanished. Of course there’s plenty still around, production and transport haven’t faltered, and distribution centers are full, but you can’t restock stores fast enough in a stampede. We didn’t want to get caught in one, so we stocked up much earlier, when the exponential curve hadn’t yet started here but was visibly nearing our borders, and kept re-adding our daily used items since.

20200313_144303In a run, potatoes, pasta, bread, went first. Toilet paper and paracetamol the day after.

Meanwhile various EU countries are in differing varieties of lock down. Here it’s still fairly limited to seeing all events cancelled and larger venues closed down to prevent groups of over 100 people forming, and to the advice to work from home. But that was Thursday evening. By tomorrow or at most in a few days I think we’ll hear that daycare and all schools will close too. Likely to be followed by all restaurants, bars and non-food retail as is the case in Belgium already my sister told me on the phone. The case numbers in the Netherlands fell slightly today, and were lower than yesterday. However it’s not due to reaching the inflection point in the exponential curve, but due too a more limited testing scope (with community transmission a given now, so testing is reflecting that by no longer being done to track and isolate).

Just before the government decision to let the entire country work from home late Thursday, I had a re-usable coffee cup delivered after discussions with my colleague S on avoiding using paper cups at client offices. For the next two to three weeks at least, I won’t be visiting client offices, so yesterday I posted the pic below. In the coming days we’ll adjust to working from home. Myself I’ve been working remotely and in distributed teams for over 15 years, so no big changes there. But for some of my colleagues, and definitely for most of our clients it will be a new experience to move every interaction online. I’m thinking of things, little routines and little tweaks that may make it easier and more fun to work remotely for our people. I also intend to show our clients that it can be very productive to do so.

20200313_113519The office cup became a home cup

Thursday evening as the first lock down measures were announced by the government I wrote to our colleagues “Working from home for the foreseeable future also is an opportunity. To learn to work together remotely well, also with our clients. To be able to focus on deliverables and documents, without being distracted being pulled into a myriad of meetings. It’s also an excellent opportunity to do our first internal knowledge sharing webinar we had suggested last all hands meeting. We’ll come up with how to do next Wednesday’s monthly all hands meeting online, and how to have fun working remotely together. We’ll do a daily online check-in and out for all of us, to start and end the working day together.

Today in the park, playing with Y, it seemed that those who were out and about were more friendly than usual. And kicking a football around between people is a perfect way to chat and have fun, while keeping the suggested social physical distance.

20200313_163241Playing with Y in the park in the rain yesterday. Wearing my gloves as she had cold hands…Daddy, I’m a monster!

2 reactions on “Expontential Surprise a(nd) New Normal, Random Observations

  1. I was talking to a family member today here in Canada who’s faced with working from home for the first time. While she and most of her colleagues have laptops, and can adapt, their phone system won’t follow them, so they won’t actually be able to take incoming calls.

    This is the kind of thing that in the digital world we take for granted (I haven’t had a physical office telephone handset on my desk in more than a decade); it’s easy to forget that this is by means universally the case.

    My longer-term concern is that company managers realize that remote working can be a tremendous cost saving, and decide to make it the norm, but without properly compensating employees for the costs of maintaining a home office and required services.

    • A valid concern I think. One of the things we’re now looking into is how the home working set-ups of our people looks. Until now, having an office, for our recent colleagues this wasn’t a concern as such.

      As to phone numbers, our clients have done away with fixed numbers a long time ago, with most switched through to mobiles by default. However I already noticed that for one client their remote working environment isn’t sturdy enough for the sudden rise in usage.

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