Musings from the COVID-19 Lockdown Season

Days roll into weeks and the weeks swing by. It’s all so surreal – Listening to the news and the deaths around the world, I’m asking myself, how did we get here? In Lagos, Nigeria where I am currently based, we’ve had 5 weeks of lockdown and currently have a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am.

When it started in China, it seemed far away and we thought it would go away like bird flu, SARS and all others did. Unfortunately, it became more real as Europe started getting infected, then the US, Canada, Nigeria, and countries started shutting their borders.

Despite all the technology and advancement in medicine, it’s ironic that we don’t seem to have a solution for this invisible virus that is ravaging the earth and bringing the world to a standstill,  an unseen enemy we are all hiding from!

It’s a rude wakeup call to think for the first time, we have no one, nor government across the world to look up to. The best we can do now is stay safe, stay at home, pray, and hope things will turn around quickly. Our sense of security or self-reliance as a human race is eroded. I believe we are humbled and world leaders, in particular, must be frustrated.

It is a time to RESET in all areas and there are lessons to be learned in several facets of life. Some that readily come to mind are:

Our frailty – It exposes our frailty as humans. Regardless of the speed, knowledge, and advancement in technology and its various applications, we are still vulnerable and suddenly, we realize we must accept the fact that we don’t know it all.

When countries that have all the military power and technologies are struggling with controlling the pandemic, then we need to know for sure that there is a force beyond us on earth. We must recognize that we are not in absolute control and there is a God greater than humanity.

The Simplicity of life: – we have made life complex – always on the go, dashing back and forth, heavy work schedules, attending events, sometimes extremely ostentatious, little family time, and hardly taking time out to rest. We’re now left with no other choice but to go back to the basics – stay in our homes, bond with our families, and do the best we can with the tools that we have. No parties, no rushing to the office, no social or religious gathering.

It’s interesting how this now makes one realise that maybe some of those things we did and considered important are not so important after all. It’s time to declutter our minds of the unimportant, change our attitudes, give away as much as we can, and simplify our lives. 

The Vanity of life – Vanity upon vanity all is vanity. All those material possessions, what can we do with them now? The exotic cars, fancy 2nd, 3rd homes, the clothes, shoes, and matching accessories, what can they avail us in this pandemic?  It is time to prioritize our lives, focus on the things that matter.

One cannot help but wonder, in the evening of one’s life what will be most important? Over two hundred thousand people have died across the world and still counting; it is obvious that these things hold no eternal value and they fade in comparison to death.  

We were all home for weeks, our clothes, shoes, and accessories were all in our closets. We couldn’t wear them out, we still can’t go for any event, we can’t drive our cars out later than 8pm, and then there is the issue of rising insecurity in several parts of the country. We can’t travel to take a break, no flights, unthinkable!

It is most definitely a call to redefine our lifestyle. We need to reflect and begin to operate from a different mindset- a paradigm shift. All these possessions will grow old, lose value and fade away, but our relationships are forever –family, friends, colleagues, and of course with God. Our time on earth is limited. Let’s make it count.

A time to redefine our priorities – More than ever, there is an urgency to find one’s purpose, define priorities, and begin to work passionately at fulfilling one’s purpose. As we apply ourselves to our everyday tasks, we should prioritize and ensure that it’s the important things of life that we place a priority on.

We should be more deliberate about impacting lives, having good relationships, being a blessing through our work, and generally making the world a better place.

A time to be introspective – reflect on our lives, lifestyles, and interests. What aspects of our lives need to be changed? what do we need to improve? what can we learn from what’s going on? what is the message to us and the world at large? What’s our relationship with God like?

We need to ask ourselves these questions and more so that we can make the necessary changes and come out on top.  It’s a time for personal growth.  

A time of renewal – This is a time to renew our minds, renew relationships, forgive and make amends. Did any of the people that died or those that were on the verge of death but recovered imagine they would go through such an experience? 

I am sure given another chance, some would realise that the things they held on to are not important, while good relationships, the right attitude, being a blessing to someone are more important.

A time to learn and be creative – What new skills can you learn, what classes can you take, particularly in the Digital space? How about health and wellness? How can you keep up with work tools being used today? Can you take advantage of the free classes being offered online?

All those things that you have wanted to do, to write, to learn, new interests to pursue, hobbies, diet, and exercise – now is a good time to start; roll up your sleeves and give them a shot.

A time to get those nagging tasks done – A time to get things we have left on the back burner done. Break them into small tasks, do a little a day. Write down the tasks, schedule them, and if need be, get an accountability partner, to prevent procrastination. Don’t forget to reward yourself after achieving milestones.

A time to connect – More than ever, technology has been a saving grace in this season. It’s the only way we can connect.  Many people are filled with fear and some are lonely, so it’s important we call each other and connect. 

Let’s call friends and family across the world, arrange non-work online meetings. It can be fun and good therapy. It’s amazing how one’s spirit is lifted from a call or a group forum.

Give Back Time – This is also a time to be kind to people in need, particularly those that are more vulnerable in our society and help meet their needs – a call, a gift, food, care for them. Little drops make an ocean, even reaching out to a friend in need, calling someone to check on them all add up. Let’s all rise and do something in our circle of influence and beyond

As we pray for and anticipate the end of the coronavirus, and a revamp of the economy, we need to be thoughtful and deliberate about our actions. We shouldn’t just get back on the fast lane, having been forced to apply brakes, we have had time to reflect and reset,  we should not go back to our old ways but begin to place a priority on the important things in life.

We need to build quality relationships,  be sensitive to the needs of others, always be ready to lend a helping hand, learn to live simple lives without layers of gold and look at life from a new lens.

It is important to remember that we are only here temporarily, we should, therefore, strive to leave a legacy that will outlive us, influence our generation and future generations.

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety

FATIGUE IN THE WORKPLACE

A lot of organizations invest money in creating a conducive workplace for their employees, making available to them good seats, tables and computers too. They go as far as providing dining areas furnished with microwaves and refrigerators so that meals can be refrigerated and microwaved during lunch breaks, they do this believing that a conducive and work environment will bolster productivity.

However, there are some issues that the ambiance of the office is unable to shield employees from; one of such issues is fatigue in the workplace.

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety.

Causes of fatigue

The primary cause of fatigue is lack of sleep, but other factors such as long work hours, exposure to high temperatures and loud incessant noise have also been known to cause fatigue.

Types of fatigue

Fatigue can be acute or chronic. While acute fatigue occurs from short-term sleep loss, such as not getting enough sleep before going off to work the next day, chronic fatigue on the other hand results from a rather prolonged absence of sleep.

How does fatigue present itself?

Tiredness

Drowsiness

Memory lapses

Attention deficiency

Combating fatigue in the workplace

  • The first step is to create a work schedule or rota that give workers enough time to rest and recuperate between shifts.
  • For jobs that require employees to work long hours or overtime, consider that your workers will need enough time for other daily activities, such as commuting, preparing and eating meals and relaxing; And provide such amenities as meals, on-site accommodations and facilities where workers can nap either during the shift or before their commute back home.
  • Provide a work environment that has good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels.
  • Have your staff collaborate with different teams on a variety of projects to curb boredom arising from repetitive tasks.
  • Be flexible when assigning tasks.
"People who dress better are typically treated better at work," says David McKnight, a New York City-based image consultant. "They are usually given more responsibility and are shown much more respect."

THE RULES OF WORKPLACE STYLE

In today’s business-casual workplace and organizations operating from co-work spaces, suits and ties and formal dresses no longer seem to be the standard, not even in financial institutions; however, the way a person dresses to the workplace still matters and to a large extent determines how they will be spoken to and treated.

“People who dress better are typically treated better at work,” says David McKnight, a New York City-based image consultant. “They are usually given more responsibility and are shown much more respect.”

Here are tips on what to wear and what not to wear — so you can make the best impression on your boss, colleagues and clients.

Business casual isn’t a fashion free-for-all,” says Susan Bixler, president and founder of the Bixler Consulting Group. The Atlanta-based consultant has created guidelines for business-casual dress for those just starting out, workers at mid-career and those eyeing the executive suite.

The “baseline” look starts with the three Big Nos

  1. No flip-flops
  2. No jeans
  3. No visible tattoos

Yes to:

  1. Tailored trousers
  2. long-sleeve shirts or tops

The “midstream” look is similar but with an emphasis on higher-quality fabrics while the executive version ups the sartorial ante by recommending jackets for men and trouser-style suits for women.

“Any time you want to add authority, put on the jacket,” says Bixler, the author of seven books, including The New Professional Image: From Business Casual to the Ultimate Power Look.

The General Rule:

In journalism, the editor would always as you “leave out”, if you’re unsure; the rule is different when it comes to dressing and style. If you are to attend an interview or a business meeting and are unsure about the dress code, you should ask in advance, then again, you can’t possibly be faulted for appearing in a jacket or suit. Wearing a suit to an interview, meeting or work is a nonverbal way of communicating the fact that you are in for serious business.

Curb excesses.

Clothes that are too tight, overly generous makeup, too much jewelry, and accessories as well as ‘loud’ fragrance.

Never show up to work in shorts, ripped jeans (not even on a Friday)

Avoid wearing dusty, unpolished shoes to work.

When it comes to dressing, women have more options while the playing field for men is quite narrow and straightforward.

Too Much Skin

“Edgy looks, especially those involving the baring of cleavage, skin or tattoos, rarely cut it at the office, unless you happen to work in a trend-conscious field like advertising or fashion.

“When you’re not sure whether something is appropriate for work, then there’s a 98 percent chance that it’s not,” McKnight says.

The Whole Look

Choosing the right clothing is just one component of your professional look, which includes good grooming and hygiene, as well as being well-rested and mentally ready to face the day.

“There are so many things we don’t have control over, but what we can control is the image of professionalism we show to the world,” Bixler says.

The African Woman and her strength The African woman’s wrapper, this piece of cloth like a prized jewel encapsulates her feminine essence.No event – formal, religious, traditional or casual seems out of place for her to appear enveloped in her flowery wrapper.There is of course a variation to her appearance as dictated by age; while young and adventurous, she would wrap herself around with a single sheet of wrapper, barely covering her knees and revealing long, dark legs and beautifully shaped calf but as she gracefully ages, she would lengthen and double same fabric to show maturity and decorum

THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S WRAPPER

The African woman’s wrapper, this piece of cloth like a prized jewel encapsulates her feminine essence.

No event – formal, religious, traditional or casual seems out of place for her to appear enveloped in her flowery wrapper.

There is, of course, a variation to her appearance as dictated by age; while young and adventurous, she would wrap herself around with a single sheet of wrapper, barely covering her knees and revealing long, dark legs and beautifully shaped calf but as she gracefully ages, she would lengthen and double same fabric to show maturity and decorum.

The African Woman’s wrapper, this highly prized possession often serves as her lingerie.

If you have had the privilege of gazing upon her narrow waist, then you know how the wrapper flows and stretches to accentuate her broad hips and expands downwards to accommodate her round, protruding behind.

Have you seen her with her wrapper knotted at the middle of her chest? The way it hugs her firm, full, voluptuous twin mounds. Look a moment longer and you would see how the wrapper slightly parts around her knees to lend you a peek at fat chocolate thighs, unaffected by the sun or any harsh element. If you have been privy to any of these sights, you would treasure the African woman’s wrapper even more than she does.

The African woman’s wrapper is one subliminal wonder of a fabric that can be tweaked to offer a lot more than it was originally designed for especially with a creative owner.

It is not uncommon to see how it functions particularly for the market woman as a safe – yes, the ultimate safe.

At the right or left tip of her wrapper is a special knot which holds an unbelievably large amount of naira bills surreptitiously deposited there for contingencies. This safe is one that can only be ‘opened’ when all else fails as not even natural disaster, the threat of hunger or death can get her to unknot that part of her wrapper.

Trust me, it is almost impossible to get her to dip into that particular storage facility. The African Woman’s wrapper, this piece of cloth is highly sought after and can be used as a kerchief.

The African woman tormented by the heat of the sun would loosen one end of her wrapper, bend her head and use it to wipe the sweat off her face and that of her offspring.

Oppressed by the scorching heat, she would leave her bed, spread her wrapper on the floor, use her headscarf as a pillow and serenade herself to sleep.

With her maternal instinct in full swing, she would gently unwrap her wrapper from her waist and rest it on her sleeping child to shield it from the cold night air.

To refer to the African woman’s wrapper as a mere piece of clothing would be tragic for the culprit who dares… Her wrapper is not just an apparel, lingerie, safe, kerchief or blanket, it is the symbol of her femininity, versatility, pedigree, and belief.

George Wonah, Content Writer TWPC

Teamwork In The Workplace

“Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal” – Business Dictionary - workplace, teamwork, career tips, career success, recruitment tips, work, office tips, corporate behavior, workplace ethics, soft skills, workplace skills

(3 Minutes Read)

There isn’t a more concise phrase that captures and explains teamwork better than the adage “Two heads are better than one”, every other explanation simply puts the adage into perspective, lending it more credence.

For argument’s sake, we should perhaps visit a few of the existing definitions.

“Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal”Business Dictionary.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives”  – Andrew Carnegie.

There is also no phrase that expresses the need for collaboration as adequately as the adage “No man is an island”. This adage translates to the fact that no single individual has a monopoly of knowledge, thereby necessitating the adoption of teamwork.

Efficiency is bolstered where there is knowledge sharing through brainstorming sessions, which introduces fresh ideas as opposed to dated ideas resulting from working alone. Again, there is also a pool of creatively unique as well as diverse viewpoints to be engaged with.

Benefits of teamwork in the workplace

Working together allows team members build on the skillset of their teammates, while one person’s strength may be in IT, another may be in critical thinking, content creation, project management or even public relations, when each team member’s talent is exploited, there is a resultant blend of complementary strengths from which individual members of the team can benefit.

Teamwork promotes a wider sense of ownership mentality where each employee begins to see themselves as co-owners of the business. This, in turn, reflects on the growth and ultimately the profit margin of the business as new business strategies are introduced, refined and executed.

Understanding Generation Z- the new entrants to the workplace.

Generation Z refers to young people who were born between roughly 1996 and 2010.- those who typically were born into a technologically advanced world that is simply unable to do without the internet.

As recruiters and perhaps potential employers of labour, it is important to understand the characteristics that define these new set of job seekers so as to be able to manage their expectations and help them to succeed in life.

Characteristics of Gen Z

  1. They are technologically advanced from an early age and learn to use smart phones very early in life.
  2. They develop a strong ability to communicate electronically via mobile apps and online platforms even before they start school.
  3. They have an incredible ability to search out information on the internet and absorb copious amounts of information.
  4. They are strong multi-taskers, able to handle diverse tasks and projects at the same time
  5. Their attention span is very low unfortunately and they are ready to move on to the next activity within short time periods
  6. They tend to be more independent and autonomous than millennials (the Generation before them) and many of them are eager to start their own businesses much earlier in life.

Motivating Gen Z

A good understanding of the above traits will go a long way in placing Gen Zers in the workplace. Monotonous or routine jobs would be a turn off for these high paced set of employees. Tasks that enhance their innate creative abilities and promote an entrepreneurial spirit would be very desirable and would stimulate increased productivity and performance.  

Long gone are the days of long service in companies. The new generation, not unlike the Millennials are not looking forward to long service company awards. They are highly mobile and enjoy the here and now. Jobs that enable them to be involved in projects and where possible allow them to travel and work remotely would be best suited for this cohort.

 Fluid workplace arrangements with less rigid structures, policies and practices may very soon become the order of the day in even the most conservative of corporate organisations.

TOUTISM – an unwelcome industry and a generational scourge?

Driving through the streets of Lagos one cannot help but notice a growing number of able-bodied youth and young adults loitering or wandering aimlessly at all hours of the day and night, seeking those to whom they can render some service or the other.

A tout can be described as an illegal salesman or someone who attempts to sell something by a direct or persistent approach.

The word ‘toutism’ does not exist in any English dictionary but I have coined the word to describe what has long become an industry in Nigeria, where the homeless and disadvantaged youth have found what they deem to be a potential career in the absence of parental or third-party assistance.

Many of these young people grow up on the streets of Lagos, having escaped from broken or abusive homes, mingling with like-minded youth who initiate them and teach them how to survive on the streets.

Sleeping under trailers, in front of shop premises, along the perimeter of church fences or simply finding shelter under a pile of rubble or planks, these young people wake up early in the morning; just as we all do, to seek their daily wages.

A few of them with some modicum of dignity and self-worth would make extra effort to look presentable by seeking places to bathe and keep their few clothes clean.  Even in abject poverty, you would see them make the effort to keep their shirts buttoned up, and their countenance pleasant and friendly.

With their meager earnings gained from street begging, some would buy some inconsequential items  (like tissue packs) to peddle to commuters in traffic. Some would attempt to render some service such as parking assistance or service guides to the unsuspecting public. Others would simply lean on cars in traffic recanting some pitiable tale or the other, with the expectation that they would receive their daily ‘wages’.

This unwelcome persistent invasion into the space of the commuters is what I describe as toutism- a bane in our Nigerian society where the rich or well to do are constantly harassed to part with some of their wealth to support the livelihood of the severely disadvantaged on our streets.

The dearth of properly structured public or privately funded social assistance programs is evident in our society. The number of young adults hitting the streets on a daily basis as a result of job losses, parental abandonment or lack of job or trade opportunity is simply overwhelming. 

Amongst these groups are potential leaders of Nigeria- bright, highly intelligent and trainable looking for the assistance of any kind to forge ahead and secure their future.

Toutism should not be an acceptable career. It certainly should not be an industry, if more public, private as well as not for profit organizations would invest in destroying this bane by committing resources to reunite these children and young adults with family members and then assisting with their educational development so that they can be self-sustaining through a chosen career or trade.

 We should all commit to making a difference by joining one of these organizations to destroy toutism in our society.