I think we can all agree that Good Friday is anything but this year.
Aside from the obvious – the grim escalation in the number of deaths as we approach the expected peak of the Covid-19 pandemic – there are the horrendous economic, social and personal ramifications of this unprecedented challenge to contend with.
For some, it marks the end of a frantic couple of weeks trying to get pre-lockdown deals over the line before Easter and the subsequent expected slowdown in activity, bar distress sales. For others, it signals the beginning of a period of reduced hours or pay. For some, it marks the devastation of redundancy, and for others, it signals the start of an unsettling period on furlough.
Outside the agency world, the likes of RICS and St Modwen did the same, St Modwen placing a third of its people, more than 200, on furlough, although they are topping up salaries so they still receive full pay.
Most are not being as transparent as this about how many people they have furloughed. My guess is that they fear being seen as weak or in trouble, but there is no shame in placing people on furlough or being placed on furlough. As many people’s new hero, Martin Lewis (of Money Saving Expert fame), puts it: “Employers aren’t doing wrong by furloughing, they’re doing right.”
It is beholden on those of us lucky enough to still be working to make sure they continue ‘doing right’ and that our furloughed colleagues are kept in the loop while they’re not working. We also need to hold our employers to account by ensuring that jobs that cannot be done right now don’t mysteriously morph into jobs considered surplus to requirements when the lockdown ends and subject to redundancy.
That said, the stark reality is that we may well reach the stage where more companies are forced to let people go to survive. In a sobering comment piece in this week’s Covid-19 Hub Special Issue, Steve Norris voices an argument that most don’t even dare to think: we may soon have to face the challenge of the “ultimate arbitrage between a higher mortality count and an economy and wider society that will be seriously, perhaps irreparably, damaged within a very few weeks”.
It is a truly horrific choice, which will be made on our behalf by those in power. I don’t envy them that power or the responsibility that comes with it.
Make it a better Friday
In the meantime, we have a responsibility to ourselves: to make sure we are mentally robust enough to cope with what is coming – and to help others cope. To that end, Property Week has teamed up with Moda Living and hero to host a series of free wellbeing workshops. Led by qualified wellbeing coaches, the online workshops will offer advice on managing anxiety, self-care and maintaining a positive mindset.
This week’s digital issue also features a must-read piece on the art of remote working by someone who has learned the hard way, Exposure Ninja’s Tim Cameron-Kitchen, and some brilliantly practical tips from CBRE’s Kate Davies on how to improve your wellbeing.
I hope you find it useful.