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Wundamail Voices: Thoughts on the Pandemic and Economic Crisis with Larry Cornett

May 26, 2020

Remote Working, Team Management, Workplace Culture, Wundamail Voices

Today's Wundamail Voices comes from Leadership Coach and Careers Advisor, Larry Cornett.

Extended quarantines are having a significant impact on the global economy. This is a moment in time that tests Nassim Taleb’s concept of antifragility.

"Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better." — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

We’ve all noticed numerous companies that are suffering right now. Many businesses refused to swiftly adapt to a world where physical transactions became almost impossible.

They believed that this pandemic would quickly pass. Unfortunately, several companies have shut their doors and have no revenue coming in at all. Other businesses have already closed their doors forever. More businesses that cannot adapt will fail if the quarantines last much longer.

However, have you also noticed that some companies are doing even more business than usual (e.g. Amazon, delivery services, online services like mine)? They aren’t just getting by during this quarantine. They are thriving because their goods and services are in high demand.

That’s what it means to be antifragile.

You become more powerful and better under stress. What these business owners do and the services they provide becomes even more valuable in this current crisis.

Companies and individuals must embrace remote work to survive. Those that do so ahead of the unemployed masses will thrive. The millions of jobless people and shuttered businesses that are waiting for someone to “save them” will suffer and fail.

Someone mentioned to me that this is a sign that "our world is becoming too distanced." I've witnessed a slightly different outcome with what remote work enables.

When you live in a big city and work 12-14 hour days, you have no social life, you don't even know who your neighbors are, and you are not a part of your local community.

When you run a local business or company that is completely dependent on physical transactions (i.e. brick and mortar stores, personal services that require a physical presence), you are at the mercy of local economies and government actions that restrict physical commerce.

With a transition to remote work and work from home, jobs, wealth, and economic opportunity will be more broadly distributed into smaller communities and formerly-dying cities across the world. You no longer have to "move away from home" to find work, like I did when I was young.

Now that I'm working remotely near a small town, I'm actually becoming part of the local community and building friendships outside of my old "tech bubble."

My income flows into a rural community vs. a large metropolitan area. I'm helping support small business owners vs. chains.

This shift won't be easy and it might be painful for some (e.g. those in metropolitan areas), but it is good and long overdue.

It is true that not all companies, jobs, and services will lend themselves to fully remote and work-from-home environments. Hardware still needs to be built in factories. Biomedical research and pharmaceuticals will still have to be in labs. Physical travel (e.g. airlines) will still require employees on the ground and in the air. But, the jobs that can be, should be (e.g. the majority of tech jobs, knowledge workers, etc.).

The impact on our quality of life, our public health, and the environment is too significant to ignore. We should have done this decades ago.

Instead, we've been watching the world burn and shrugging our shoulders, "Oh well! I guess there's nothing we can do about it. I'll just climb back into my car and hit the freeway with millions of other commuters."

It's a shame that it took a global crisis for us to finally admit that this was possible.

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