A crisis as life-altering as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of everyone. With larger worries of job and financial security weigh on our minds, it can be harder to look on the brighter side. Our blessings may be well disguised in this pandemic, but we can still find silver linings in the dark cloud.
#1 It Accelerated The Adoption Of Remote Work
In a short span of time, work as we know it took on a different form. The virus chased us out of our cubicles and into the comforts of our home. Organisations were forced to adopt telecommuting practices, as we downloaded video-conferencing apps and relished in a life where commuting to work didn’t exist.
In fact, remote working is likely to stay for many of us in a post-COVID-19 world, with Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing saying that working from home will continue to be the norm even after circuit breaker ends.
This pandemic has unintentionally revealed the value of remote work, and it has proven to organisations and professionals that it can be effective. It serves as a realisation to companies who used to shun telecommuting and forces them to relook the flexibility offered at workplaces.
The widespread adoption of remote work is also a welcome development for persons with special needs, who can remain at home to work and not worry about commuting to their workplace, which might not have the features to enable them to work productively.
#2 Validated Our World-Class Health Care System
This pandemic gave society as a whole a renewed appreciation for Singapore’s highly-effective healthcare system and the unsung heroes and heroines who make healthcare work.
After a highly successful and widely-praised initial containment effort led by contact tracing, the surge of cases among foreign workers did put a strain on Singapore’s healthcare resources, but it has quickly adapted to expand its capacity. For instance, bed capacity for community care facilities for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms will double to 20,000 by end-June.
Patients who are well by the end of their 14th day are transferred to a Community Recovery Facility, before being assessed for discharge. The current 2,000 beds for community recovery facilities will be ramped up to more than 10,000 beds by end-June.
#3 We Realise How Precarious Our Financial Situation Can Be – But It’s Not Too Late
The next recession could be around the corner, with the economy possibly contracting more than the -1% to -4% forecast. As the pandemic evolves, the resulting impact of job losses and lower wages has made us conscious, or even worried, about our financial health.
Part of this worry is due to the circuit breaker measures. Some of us are unable to work, or are only doing so at a reduced workload, causing a dip in or loss of our income. We might be tapping into our emergency funds to cover expenses, while others fret about their bank accounts running dry.
It has made us more aware about the importance of an emergency fund. But it’s still not too late to relook into our finances, given that the grants and other forms of help provided this crisis. MAS has announced support such as deferments on loan payments and extensions of loan tenures of existing debt consolidation plans. This helps to ease cash flow and reduce debt concerns, which helps us tide over tough times while we rebuild our financial health.
#4 We Are More Cognizant Of Our Company’s Resilience & Viability
In good times, employees might be less concerned with their company’s resilience and viability. But as the current crisis unnerves businesses, the cracks in business models are made more apparent, while businesses that were struggling before are now crumbling. In just three months, 239 companies went into liquidation this year, compared to 287 in 2019.
Startups, in particular, are more susceptible to economic shocks. With declining revenues and startup funding dwindling, startups are forced to implement cost-cutting measures, which will be unfortunate for about 20,000 staff employed by 3,800 startups in Singapore.
While this crisis is hardly a blessing for those who were laid off, but it opens our eyes to how fragile some companies may be. In future, we might even be more deliberate in choosing who we want to work for.
Those who remain employed might think that it is lucky that your company has escaped mostly unscathed from the virus. But more often than not, it’s about the resilience and viability of a company rather than just sheer luck.
#5 We Are More Appreciative Of The Important Roles Every Person Plays In Society
One month of social distancing has prompted a sense of appreciation for the frontline workers, be it healthcare workers, delivery riders, or migrant workers. The disease might have exposed the vulnerable groups of people in our society, but that also led to ground-up movements to provide them help.
On Labour Day, various community groups donated care packs and paid tribute to migrant workers. More importantly, it is a small step toward changing biases and attitudes towards these workers, as we realise their contributions to our society.
We are now more sensitive to the different roles we play within society and how we all contribute. With our nation stripped bare except for the most essential services, it is a reminder of what keeps our society going.