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A Seemingly Unpopular Opinion on a Global Pandemic

By March 20, 2020No Comments

I want to blog about self-isolation. Actually, tell a lie. I’d rather talk about almost anything else. Unfortunately, like Basil Fawlty not mentioning the war to the Germans, it’s very difficult to write a blog this week that isn’t about Covid-19. However, following on from my previous blog, I still find myself in an up-beat, slightly irreverent mood. Maybe it’s that Dunkirk spirit as we stare into the abyss, but I plan on maintaining my shit-eating grin for the entirety of this post. Here goes…

Firstly, before I start upsetting people, we probably need to be realistic about those who can and can’t self-isolate. As a rule, factory workers can’t. Those on crap employment contracts can’t. Hospo workers can’t. Truck drivers, supermarket workers, bus drivers, doctors, nurses, the police, the army, tradies, teachers and many of the self-employed and small business owners can’t. Those who can, tend to be in professional jobs, working for a business with good technology infrastructure. They are probably what used to be called “middle-class”, they’re probably educated, likely white, and probably have an income at or above the New Zealand average. Although the coronavirus seems to infect without prejudice, there are some big inequalities when it comes to exposure. Essentially, if you’re poor, or provide an essential public service, you’re going to be touching more¬† hands.

From my casual observations, those that are currently self-isolating, fall into three categories. Let’s start nice and then slowly piss people off.

Type one is the silent majority (thankfully). This is a group that have heeded the government’s advice to self-isolate if possible and are beavering away at almost 90% efficiency at home. They understand their own privilege as the cheery Countdown delivery driver drops off their lamb shanks and pinot noir. These lot are helping to stop the spread, but understand that in order for them to self-isolate, others simply can’t. As long as a good percentage of us do this, and some of us don’t, we’ll flatten this mother-fuckin’ curve bitches. These are the good guys.

Type two will be familiar to those connected to various demographics on social media platforms. They were the first self-isolators. And don’t we fucking know it. They have started Instagram feeds on tips of what arts and crafts to do whilst being banged up. Quite frankly, they seem to be getting a bit too much enjoyment from not being at work; all under the guise of altruism. Without using the “L” word, these are the type of people that when there’s some heavy office furniture to be moved, disappear for an hour on a “coffee run”. They self-congratulate themselves by sharing that meme of a doctor holding a sign saying “Stay at home so we don’t have to”. Interestingly, this lot will be the worst hit by the impending recession. Once it is realised by their paymasters that their business functions just as well without them, with the collective global belt-tightening, this bunch will find themselves “working from home” for much longer than planned.

Type three are the worst. These are the self-isolators who don’t comprehend their position of privilege. They post “oh my god, why aren’t you social-distancing?” LinkedIn posts whilst simultaneously refusing to tip Rohit the Uber driver as he rang their doorbell without a wet wipe. These are the ones who tell us of their self-isolating hardship at the $2million bach. They scream that our government isn’t doing enough, and that they are taking the welfare of the country into “their own hands”, and generally piss us all off with their sanctimonious verbal diarrhea. They will probably require counseling after this blows over, but most likely for the pain and suffering caused by their diminished share portfolio. These claim to be selfless, in the same way Rod Stewart is probably romantic. It’s easy to be romantic when your a faux-Scottish gravel-voiced millionaire, and it’s easy to self-isolate when you’ve paid off your mortgage and have cash in the bank. These people can’t comprehend that if we all followed their example, when they return from their gilded cages in 3 months time, there will be no power and water, let alone cafes, restaurants, or overpriced delicatessens to come back to.

Please don’t shout at me, but I myself am not a self-isolator. Not yet at least, and here’s why: All things considered, I feel the net benefit of me keeping my business ticking over, putting a few coins across the counter and bar at pubs and coffee shops, and most importantly, assisting candidates secure some cool roles, outweighs the current risk posed of contracting or spreading the virus. And if we all self-isolate, there will be no society to come back to. Or at least not one that I want to live in. Yes, I know I can work remotely, but this week, I’ve actually been super busy with a number of senior roles, and I’ve been more effective because I’ve been onsite. As a business, thankfully, we’re lean enough to “pivot”, and actually have a decent amount of work across the business. This coupled with a very sensible fiscal stimulus plan from the government, means I already see rays of sunshine. However, let’s not beat around the bush; almost all businesses are currently precariously balanced. As a recruitment firm at the sharp end of the whims of the economy, it will take a superhuman effort to keep our collective heads above water. It’s certainly achievable, but we should all be working like mad men/women to generate as much revenue as possible, and we also owe it to our candidate base to work our damnedest to secure them good jobs as soon as possible. And although times are tough, there’s never been a greater societal need for good recruiters. Look at it this way: There are around 1.2million Recruitment Consultants in Auckland (or so it seems). If we all work our collective behinds off throughout this, and each help one candidate a month secure a job that they wouldn’t have secured without our assistance, we will have a profound impact on thousands of lives. Isn’t that cool? Framed by a looming global recession, there has never been a better time not to down tools.¬†

Oh, and before you think I’m a total tyrant, I should add that all the team at Rice and JOYN have, and have always had, free reign to work from home. It’s been quite interesting seeing other firms describing this policy as an “experiment”. I suppose it’s an “Experiment” if your definition of such is taking your laptop off your desk and switching it on 5 kilometers down the road. I’d hate to know how “experimental” their sex life is. I’m guessing two positions, the second being the first but with the lights on. Even though we all have the option to work remotely here, as it stands, we’re all at our desks trying to make the best of what bat soup has dealt us.

And as it’s Friday, we’re breaking the first rule of social distancing and going to the pub at lunchtime. Don’t complain too much- without rebels like us putting cash across the bar, there’d be no pubs for you lot to come back to.

Stay safe, keeping working hard no matter where you’re sitting, and of course, remember to wash your hands.