Some thoughts about 2020

The year 2020

Almost everyone might agree with me when I say that 2020 was a very special year, to put it carefully. At least for those who did not grow up during or immediately after the Second World War, the year 2020 will be engraved in memory as one of the most difficult one, if not the most difficult one up to now. Of course, everyone made his or her own experience. There is the larger group of people who came through the crisis quite well so far, and there is the other group who had to suffer much more from the consequences of the pandemic. The latter group obviously includes those who were or are seriously ill or who have lost family members and friends to the virus. It certainly also includes those whose professional existence was pulled away under their feet in the last months. I should not forget to mention a third group here. This consists of those people who still deny the whole problem, who ignore all safety measures and for whom the Corona virus is just a big conspiracy. But I would not like to give them even more attention here.

Think positive

At least until today, I am very lucky as I see myself being part of the first mentioned group. Of course, I also experience these moments from time to time when I simply would like to get my life back, which I had before March 2020. Or there are these typical everyday situations in which I am quietly cursing to myself. Probably you also already arrived at the parking lot of the supermarket and suddenly noticed that once again you have forgotten your mouth and nose protection, popularly known as “the mask”. But even at the risk of using the typical phrases, I would claim for me that in general I have always tried to make the best out of any crisis and to learn something from it.

The new working world

Some time ago, I wrote two articles about how we as Paessler AG have mastered the crisis in an excellent way, right from the very beginning. Especially when I wrote the article “An entire company in the home office” I didn’t have the slightest notion that this would not just be a state of emergency for a few weeks and we would all still be working from home in December. Today I know that at least in our company, workplace flexibility is not only the so-called “new normal” – one of the terms of the year 2020 – but simply is and will be “the normal”. This is not just a figure of speech, it has been agreed with all employees. Also the new office space structure in our headquarters as well as the employees’ new IT equipment has been planned accordingly and is being implemented as we speak. There is no way back to the “old normal”, just to create another term.

My “new normal”

Should we even think about a way back? How much time did I save already since March, as I didn’t have to join the daily rush hour traffic jam every day? And I actually have a relatively short commute compared to some of my other colleagues who have to drive thirty miles or more, one way. Besides that, I’m sure we’re all doing something good to protect the climate, as the satellite images during the first lockdown impressively demonstrated. And what about the famous work-life-balance? Sure, private and professional life are overlapping more and more now. But I guess everyone is familiar with the situation when a technician announces himself to come to your house to repair something. Or you have to squeeze a doctor’s appointment in your full calendar. Having the flexibility to also work from home makes it much easier for me to organize everything. When did I usually have the chance to have lunch together with my family? During Christmas and Easter. Ok, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated. However, I know that there is also another perspective to that like the young families with small children who had to do homeschooling – another term of the year 2020 – and where the kitchen table needs to serve as the home office. Also, I already met people who are not happy at all about being together with their family all the time. But it is my intention to write about my personal view here.   

The darker sides

Does that all sound too positive and flowery? Of course, not everything was going well for me in 2020 either. I can perfectly understand the discussion about the situation of the elderly. A good friend of mine had to experience all this very closely with his 94-year-old mother who is living in a nursing home. My own parents are over eighty years old and they had to give up basically everything in 2020, which normally makes their life more beautiful and worth living. I can quickly recognize through their voice on the phone, that sometimes there is a slight depression creeping in. This has prompted me during the last months much more often than usual to get into the car and drive to my old home, just to be around. Besides that, I can also imagine more enjoyable leisure activities than having to accompany my youngest son already twice within three months to do a Corona test because of one or more infections in his school class. Not even talking about the insecurity in this situation, whether the whole family maybe got infected.

Everything is relative

I hear many people complaining about this crisis, which is now reaching new heights every day in December. But very often it is coming from those people who actually have no reason to complain. Of course, I could look at everything very negatively now, because also for me, from a factual point of view, the year 2020 didn’t have that many positive sides. Planned vacation trips became a victim of the virus several times this year, not to mention celebrations, events and the like. Business also definitely didn’t turn out as we had imagined still in the beginning of March. But my favorite phrase is one that at first glance really sounds very superficial and also quite hackneyed: “Everything is relative”. The real meaning of this phrase became crystal clear to me during the years I lived in Brazil. Many Brazilians only give you a tired smile for the kind of problems we are discussing in Germany. In fact, this will most likely also apply to the Corona pandemic, when comparing the situation in Brazil and Germany. What is a cancelled vacation trip compared to the fight for survival of patients artificially respirated in intensive care units. And what is a slowdown in growth of business this year and probably also next year compared to companies that have been built up over generations and which the virus has destroyed in a few weeks? Everything is relative.

Taking the positive with us

2020 was a very special year, a difficult year. But 2020 was also a year in which I could observe less selfishness, more collegiality, more friendship, more sense of community, more focus on the essential and last but not least more humanity. We will still have some difficult months in front of us. But times will get better again, I am absolutely sure about that. Hopefully we will then retain some of the above-mentioned positive behaviors and characteristics..

Merry Christmas for all those who celebrate Christmas, and a happy, prosperous and most of all healthy 2021 for all of us!

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