Day 4 of Singapore's so -coined "circuit breaker". This is how my re-designed work space looks like.
My daily routine has totally been disrupted. I used to frequent the cafe that's near my place around 8-9am in the morning. I would sit there to start the day reading news, emails and top stories from the night before. Depending on the morning schedule, I could sit there for hours right up till lunch. These days I spend the entire mornings at home.
I think this is a very trying period for many people. These are very uncertain times. Sure, I've been through economic uncertainties - the global financial crisis in 2008 which saw 100+ years-old Lehman vanish, the Eurozone crisis in 2011 and the oil supply glut in 2015. These crises were mainly driven by financial markets. People were nervous, some lost jobs and there was a lot of jitters in the office at times. So back then as an employee, I just sat tight, kept my head down and did my work. It was tough and everyone knew bonuses would be bad, salary increments would be crimped. But this time it was different for me.
This is possibly the very first time I am experiencing a worldwide financial crisis and pandemic as an employer / entrepreneur. I worry not only about my own cash flows, but also payrolls, business expenses and also how the world will return to normalcy in 6 months, a year, maybe more? I keep wondering how this pandemic will change the way we do business, how it will affect cross border business travel and many others.
And maybe for the first time, I truly understand how the sole proprietors out there and the marginally paid front line workers who live month by month are feeling. That sense less of helpless-ness and uncertainty that looms. Just last week, I overheard a young chap on the bus sitting behind me talking:
I was supposed to have gotten that restaurant job... They were reviewing my salary but after the circuit-breaker announcement on Friday afternoon, they came back and told me they not hiring anymore. My wife also just lost her job last month, so I just need to find something to do for this month, maybe food delivery or something...
The cash crunch is real for many. It's also creating a lot of tension for people. After I alighted the bus, I could hear another random person on the street arguing with someone over the phone. Fortunately the band aid here is that the government is giving discretionary payouts for low income families. I personally don't think it will be enough but I also believe that they are trying their best.
This one month of circuit-breaking will be a big financial set back for many people and businesses, even with increased food delivery measures for F&B operators. It'll also be a game changer for the world in terms of how individuals will manage themselves and businesses will interact with each other.
To be continued.