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It seems only fitting to write about isolation after the first week of it.

Remote working has become the new norm at a remarkable pace. Staff members are using digital programmes, and we’re continuing to help our clients adapt to a very changed world.

With all that technological speed, we must be conscious of our limits.

Human beings are social creatures. We have all the technological proxies of face-to-face interactions in place, but we still miss the physical minutia. Whether it’s the normal humdrum commute, the coffee break or the lunchtime chat, technology can only supplant human interaction up to a point.

An enormous part of our lives is influenced and affected by the day-to-day interaction with our colleagues and our clients. It’s imperative that as the COVID-19 lockdown progresses, we’re all aware of this simple truth: everyone is in the same boat. We can’t take for granted that everyone is fine or that everyone is adapting as easily as others. Isolation means different things to different people and ultimately has different impacts.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to say pick up the phone. It’s much harder to do. Mental health remains a stigma in our society, and never more so in times of crisis. There’s a fear that if you put your hand up and say ‘I’m anxious, I’m struggling, I’m not ok’ that you’ll be singled out. With a strong support network, this is often not the case at all – but the fear it is remains a barrier.

For the first time since WW2, ‘public morale’ is a term that has very real consequences. The longer lockdown continues, the more we’re going to have to address growing feelings of anxiousness, concern and fear.

More than ever, we need to be there for one another. We’re going through the most urgent crisis of our time, and we all need to rise to the challenge. This includes being as good a friend and colleague as we can be.

It might be more accurate to say ‘try to pick up the phone’. We’ll all need that call at some point.

by Alastair Stewart, Orbit Communications