In this document, I attempt to discuss the impact of the coronavirus
lockdown and how to prepare for it. This is not focused on the direct
impact of coronavirus, but rather on the secondary impact of
precautions that people are taking, including the lockdowns and the
new normal of staying home and working from home.
The document is written in an imperative tone, focused on what to
do. However, please don't read into this tone the idea that I am
confident of these suggestions and authoritatively pushing them. They
are just ideas!
Many of these ideas are self-justifying, but I have not tried to
justify their relative importance to other ideas that I have
omitted. Subject to time constraints, I'll be happy to answer specific
questions challenging the ideas, or comparing them to other ideas I
didn't list. If you have a question of that sort, there's a good
chance I'll just agree that the idea I didn't list was more important.
My initial draft of this post included some discussion of potential
future timelines, but I decided to omit that in order to make the post
focus on ideas for dealing with the situation. I may separately write
about possible futures.
Since we're talking of a three-month timeline for a lockdown (and
possibly much longer), you have to think of a sustainable way to
manage your life. It's not a day or two that you can somehow
brute-force. You need a sustainable approach, and a reasonable
balance. Here are some ideas:
Staying at home, and refraining from participating in social
activities, is something that could get harder and harder as the time
period gets longer. Some social activities are easy to forgo for a
week, but harder to forgo for three months. I expect that this could
lead to people feeling depression, loneliness, and mental health
issues, with the risks increasing the longer this continues.
A silver lining is that the reduced level of necessary activity, in
particular commuting, may help people recover from months or even
years of hectic commutes.
The balance of these factors will vary from person to person, but I
expect that for most people, the social life impact will be a net
What can we do? Here are a few thoughts:
This mostly applies to jobs where you were previously going into an
office and you're now working from home. It doesn't apply to cases
where you have been fired or furloughed, or where you were always
working from home, or where you still need to go in for the job.
Thanks Vipul. I agree that the time horizons people who are at low personal risk are working on are very short, eg 2-4 weeks.
I would say that if you are in a highly secure position then also schedule some time to explicitly reflect on your work and life thus far. Are you trying to solve the most important problems in your work? Are you lonely because the people who you would otherwise spend time with aren't reaching out to you, or you don't derive social support or enjoyment sufficient for you to spend the effort reaching out to you? Do you know how to rest if you don't have events and obligations to fill all your time?