We are globally hoping and looking forward to the moment we can look back on this weird episode in human history as a huge challenge, completed with exceptional success. “Humanity succeeded the corona test”. But how will success be defined? What will we have learnt from these apocalyptic times? Will the future keep the promises the past has made in despair? And will there be something left of our global economy and culture?
Business as unusual
We know from past experiences with pandemics that mankind will undeniably resume life (thus also business) again. Even during the Plague in the Middle Ages, with a staggering mortality rate of about 1/3 of the European population, it was a kind of business as (un)usual after the Plague vanished. Life went on. The impact of the Plague was only tangible in language (expressions that use the Plague for all kind of negativities) and customs (masks with beak shaped noses, costumes of Flagellants that influenced the ‘dress code’ of the Ku Klux Clan, …).
Countries that have had a lot of recent experience with pandemics such as SARS; like Taiwan, China, South Korea and Japan; are already picking up the pace as we speak. The rest of the world hopes to follow in their footsteps soon. I also assume we will inherit new vocabulary linked to Corona and quarantine as well. Masks will most likely become a common sight far outside Asian countries, as well as (much disputed) tracking systems.
Before and after
It feels partly up to us to mark the outlines of the New World how we are going to work, travel, love and live. Do we even want to go back to business as usual? Have we learned anything while stuck in quarantine? I sure did. There is an undeniable before and after caused by this social and economic trauma.
• Teamwork makes the dream work
In my experience, governments need to work together now more than ever. With governments of other countries, and with their own inhabitants. Keep believing in the positive things’ globalisation brings us and stay away from nationalisation. In this world where everyone is connected, literally and figuratively, you cannot achieve anything on your own. Teamwork and trust are an essential part of success. We were collectively asked to hand over much of our individual freedom. And we did. Because we trusted the government in their decisions. Why? Because of the trust that was built upon transparency and information.
As a global debt collection agency, we know all about the advantages of globalisation and teamwork. We are individually strong exactly because of our strong global network. Shared experience and knowhow from various locations and in many areas, as well as the opportunity to help clients locally and all over the world, give us all a head start. The thing this pandemic really taught me, is that we (us credit controllers) most of all need to work with the debtor, and not only work for the debtor and creditor.
You give and take, you search together for the middle ground, you support the debtor in his questions and hesitations, you understand his difficulties. Receiving payments is a team effort, most certainly during the Corona pandemic. A team effort based on trust from both parties in each other and in the fact that the amicable solution is the best way to go.
• The theory of scarcity
I recently wrote an article about the theory of scarcity and how it affects people, mostly when there is scarcity in money. I feel this pandemic puts an awful lot of people, including me, to the test. Corona causes scarcity in time, in money, and therefore eventually in bandwidth (the ability to think clearly and make long-term decisions).
Belgium is still in lockdown as I write this article, which means that I’m trying to concentrate while my toddler daughter is screaming (day-care is closed), my husband is also doing his job from home, and the household chores are piling up. But we are the lucky ones. We have scarcity in time, but we are still at work. A lot of Belgian citizens (like many other citizens all over the world) are (technically) unemployed because a lot of businesses have had to fully close during lockdown. It remains to be seen if they ever reopen. The scarcity they experience is of a whole different kind, in line with the situation of a lot of the debtors we are following up.
Corona has taught me life can change uncontrollably in the blink of an eye, much like the various reasons why our debtors are in financial problems. I made myself promise never to judge another person’s situation, and to help, instead of control, where I can as a credit ‘controller’. This will be my new state of mind in work.
Photo: Kim and her daughter Ella Noor enjoying sunshine during lockdown
Author: Kim Rutten, Senior Credit Controller and Communication Officer TCM Belgium