We need to focus on developing our collective resilience

20 January 2021

Urgh. This wasn’t the start to 2021 we were promised. Back in July the Prime Minister told us of his ambition of a ‘more significant return to normality’ by Christmas. Earlier still, in March, it was claimed that we could eliminate the worst of the virus within 12 weeks. Instead it’s been 10 months of unrealistic promises, stoked hopes and false dawns. No wonder the country has entered January, hardly the cheeriest of months, with a palpable sense of collective gloom.

This time around there’s little talk of sourdough baking, DIY projects or fitness challenges. And many of us are finding the adrenaline that carried us through the first wave of pandemic simply isn’t there 10 months on when the weather is colder and the days shorter. The novelty of home working wore off long ago.

Earlier this week I was talking to a colleague from Japan – a country that’s also experiencing a third wave of infections far more worrying than those seen earlier in the pandemic – about the public mood there compared to the UK. His sense was that in Japan expectations had been more realistic about how long it would take for life to return to near normality. Turning to our own experience, in many respects it’s the optimism bias that people have struggled with.

The challenge of pandemic fatigue is also shared through the layers of organisations across a broad range of companies and sectors.

Last month, an article in the Harvard Business Review, ‘How to lead when your team is exhausted – and you are, too’ shone a spotlight on the issue, pointing out that, while the vaccine represents a light at the end of the tunnel, the home stretch will be long and take a greater toll on our personal and professional lives than we expect it to.

While the tendency in a crisis is to fix the urgent and push everything else aside, taking time to focus on developing our collective resilience, recognising that it operates as a muscle, feels to be just as important. So too is looking out for our friends, colleagues and those around us. Sometimes the simple things are the most important.

Claire Kober is managing director, homes, at the Pinnacle Group


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