Finding the positive within times of turmoil

Our Co-Managing Director Chris Dodds wrote the below email to the team earlier this month for R U OK day. It gave us all a bit of perspective (in a caring way) and so we wanted to share this with you.

Hi team,
On R U OK? Day I thought I’d reach out with some thoughts on finding the positive within times of turmoil.

It’s OK to be you, to be vulnerable and to tell strangers how you’re feeling

Video calls and WFH have created a situation where we’re in each other's personal spaces – blurred background or not.

We get to see people’s living rooms, bedrooms, kids, cats and dogs. We’re starting meetings by asking people how they’re doing.

It’s making us human, breaking down professional barriers and building greater empathy.

We’re more neighbourly and community focussed

While travel restrictions have reduced our ability to move freely and widely, lock-downs have encouraged us to shop locally and spend more time in local streets and parks.

Communities are coming together, neighbours are looking after each other and many local businesses are doing better than expected (if they’ve been able to pivot their business model).

With CBDs gutted of workers, local governments and civil engineers need to reimagine what cities look like and how they work for people – not just business. There’s a great opportunity to reimagine cities with affordable housing and creative spaces drawing people back in.

Berlin is an excellent example of how progressive city planning helped rebuild a city. Cheap housing and rent control created an influx of creative industries and artists from across the world who went on to set up galleries, bars, clubs and cafes. From adversity comes rebirth.

A focus on our mental health

Most of us are suffering some form of COVID-induced fear, anxiety or depression (or know someone who is). When mental health is on everyone's minds the stigma is reduced. We’re becoming more comfortable talking about our struggles and reaching out for help when it’s needed.

Thankfully, governments are increasing funding to mental health service providers, and businesses are standing up their own health and wellbeing programs. Research shows mental health issues can spike months after traumatic events, so it’s important these services continue to be funded and businesses continue to support their own programs.

Jobs are plentiful

When the labour market is stretched, businesses need to ensure they’re attractive places to work or people will move on. Closed borders have accelerated wage growth in some sectors and encouraged a greater focus on workplace health and wellbeing.

It’s not been easy for everyone, but Australia’s unemployment rate is far lower than expected.

Purposeful work isn’t a catch-cry anymore

Altruism – the selfless concern for the well-being of others – not only makes you feel good, it’s good for you, making you happier and extending your life.

We’re all worried about what the future looks like. People want businesses to be more accountable for the type of work they choose to do.

There’s a noticeable shift toward purposeful work that helps improve the lives of people we care for, our country and the planet. Altruism is on the rise as we come together to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. If we can help others we’re helping ourselves – which is why Icon's focus is on purpose.

Carbon emissions have fallen

With fewer cars on the road and planes in the sky, global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4% in 2020. While it’s not a permanent shift we’re sure the planet welcomes any kind of relief.

As countries reopen and populations begin to move again, it’s on all of us to help lower emissions and continue to pressure governments to move to renewables. We know it can be done because we’ve seen the positive impact lock-down has had on emissions.

Australia’s not so bad, mate

For all its foibles and missteps, Australia has been a relatively safe place to ride out the pandemic. Yes we’re suffering under endless lock-downs, but we also have one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 related deaths per capita than most developed nations.

Italy has lost 2,149 people per million (approx 130,000 deaths)
The USA has lost 2,012 people per million (approx 600,000 deaths)
The UK has lost 1,957 people per million (approx 135,000 deaths)
Australia has lost 41 people per million (just over 1,000 deaths)

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Accessed September 9, 2021).

Our lockdowns, and your sacrifices, have helped save countless lives while we catch up with vaccination rates. They’ve also helped stop our health system from being overrun with cases and kept our selfless front-line health workers protected.

We’re not through this pandemic by any means, and COVID-19 is likely here to stay. As we slowly reopen and get our lives back together it will be important to mourn who and what we’ve lost and celebrate our collective achievements.

We also need to keep reaching out to make sure the people we care about are feeling safe and protected.

On R U OK? Day that’s exactly what we’re doing. Jo and I hope you’re OK and encourage you to reach out if you need to talk – to us or via https://www.ruok.org.au/

We’re also making a donation to R U OK? to help the cause undertake its important work.

Be well, Chris and Jo