Life (and work) in the time of Covid-19

This week has shown us a spike in the number of local cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Metro Manila, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to cancel classes in all levels in the metropolis this week. Already, a lot of companies are implementing work from home arrangements, and utilizing available technology capabilities to minimize disruptions brought about by this global disease.

Two key areas that have caught my attention are the following: first, is the ethical north star that we should imbibe among ourselves: there really is no need to hoard or to panic in this situation as this will neither help improve or make things better for all of us, especially those who have tested positive. Can you imagine individuals who may be under investigation and may need to buy alcohol and now unable to do so because one family decided to hoard the items just so they can conveniently have their own six-month supply?

A closer look at how we consume resources and judiciously and cautiously planning for it will be so very helpful in ensuring that all our citizens can have access to the supplies needed in this time of crisis. Taking a step back, this teaches us to also exercise empathy and be resourceful and creative in managing our resources.

The second thing that struck me is the social distancing. Admittedly, the virus is contagious enough so much so that the hardest hit countries such as China and Italy will show you how their social dynamics and culture play a crucial part in this scenario. Chinese eat with their chopsticks and they use the same chopsticks they eat from in getting food from the main dish (usually served family style). This is a strong contrast to how Filipinos eat where we place a serving spoon in our main dishes usually. In a similar fashion, Italians prefer the cheek-to-cheek greeting. The point of this is that social distancing is now becoming a critical factor in minimizing the spread of the virus – and this tells you how social dynamics will transform (if it hasn’t yet) in the process – which now brings me to the digital capabilities we need to look into to avoid any disruptions in our workplace:

Collaboration – given the physical limitation of working in the office and discussing with colleagues and co-workers, collaboration tools will be a big help in ensuring work efficiency.

Tools such as Google (Gsuite for email and other productivity tools) for collaboration, conferencing capabilities (such as Zoom), and even employee engagement platforms (such as Selfdrvn) will help in providing a rich and resilient employee experience.

Connectivity – traditionally we need to connect to a VPN in order to access our company’s applications when we are out of the office. Traditional VPNs take time to implement and in this age of needing to act very quickly, we need access to mission-critical applications on the fly. NetFoundry readily provides this capability and will make your business Covid-19 proof.

Continuity – we have seen how the Department of Education is now considering alternative ways of enabling the students to learn. In the same manner that companies are also looking into different ways of delivering training to their employees. Alternative learning management platforms are available 24/7 to ensure that learning and development does not stop. Matrix of Cypherlearning provides this capability.

At the end of the day, this exercise is a challenge on resiliency and the ability to be able to react quickly. While the key steps needed remain very basic – wash your hands properly, avoid big crowds, boost your immune system, among other things – it also takes planning and foresight to be able to go through this without having to hoard and create panic and cause unnecessary stress in the process. In fact, when one thinks about it, this is an exercise on sustainability – on how we can create an ecosystem of sustainability – ranging from food to the way we work, for example.

In the meantime, please exercise caution and do not panic. Remain vigilant and monitor the developments available through various platforms and ensure information is verified and fact-checked.


Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include nation-building, education and financial literacy. The author may be reached at