This pandemic has impacted us all in different ways so I thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase one’s personal experience. And this is true for my friend Alainiṣẹ… but of course Alainiṣẹ isn’t her real name but you know, let’s work with it. As a background, Alainiṣẹ was a graduate working within Investment Banking advising and raising capital for companies, which in layman terms means a lot of work and a lot more hours. She spoke about the times where she’d leave the office at ungodly hours just to return back before sunrise the next day. She’d previously complained to me about her 15 hour days and lack of social life but I guess I never took things too seriously. I had that ‘can’t be that bad if you’re not doing anything about it’ mentality? Little did I know where the opportunity would arise, Alainiṣẹ grasped it with both hands.
So she recounted the background story; late last year her and a number of her colleagues were rounded up by their Business Manager. “Due to a change in company strategy we’ve decided to cut costs and a number of staff within this group will be made redundant as a result. You’ll have two weeks to decide whether you’d like to take voluntary redundancy”. I was taken aback at this point, he made redundancy sound like a promotion. Regardless Alainiṣẹ had been thinking of leaving for a while, was even interviewing for other companies. Although she liked her role and the exposure it gave her, she was literally social distancing before COVID hit the streets. Both in her social life and at work as her relationship with her colleagues was frosty at best. Alas, on the final day of asking she sent a mail to her Business Manager opting to take the voluntary redundancy. She wanted to be in control of the narrative as she said, jump rather than be pushed hence go out on her own terms. And after a short discussion with HR to agree the formalities, her decision was accepted and from there it was countdown. Laughing as she spoke She detailed how her final day felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Relinquishing all of her tech, ridding away of her work notes and walking out the building.
Alainiṣẹ used the phrase “emotional rollercoaster” to describe the experience as she spent the next couple of months working on her mental and catching up on well deserved sleep. I guess the relaxing was short lived as not too long after the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your own lil’ bubble that you forget the impact Corona is having on others. Alainiṣẹ effectively quit her job to take a step back, reset and go again at a later date but as a result of the pandemic, it’ll be a much much later date. The job market is on its knees with most companies freezing hiring due to the uncertainties within the market. With revenues plummeting, a lot of companies are reluctant to increase costs hence leaving the unemployed, unprepared and vulnerable. Alainiṣẹ was actually in the interview process when the pandemic struck but was unaware of the impact of the virus until her face to face interviews changed to over the phone interviews, then to ‘unfortunately due to the current global events…’, it’s tough times. With job availability scarce and unemployment on the rise, a post-COVID job market is arguably a more precarious one than we currently face. More candidates fighting for a limited amount of roles will mean companies will have the upper hand in negotiations.
I don’t know what I expected from Alainiṣẹ, doom and gloom I suppose. If I quit my role without a guaranteed source of income to back me up, I’d deffo feel a bit apprehensive. On the contrary though, she was quite philosophical about things noting it was the “most at peace” she’d felt in a while. In fact, the thought of working in her old role during this COVID period was actually less appealing than unemployment! “Whilst the whole world is at a standstill, there’s not too much you can do but relax”. Surprisingly, I’ve heard a similar narrative from a few people regarding this pandemic. Despite the obvious crisis that many people are facing, we’ve inadvertently been given the opportunity to take a step back from the hustle and bustle to relax and reboot. Due to the lack of people out and about we’ve seen falling carbon emissions, less polluted seas, re-emerging wildlife; small wins but wins nonetheless. And as a final point, I asked her to pluck out one word to describe how she felt in her current situation and after a long discussion of “can I use a phrase instead”, she settled on the word ‘liberated’. Liberated… now isn’t that a place we all aspire to be.