Running out of energy: An underestimated threat to a "people's business"?
— 10 experts shared their view
We are currently experiencing an energy crisis of a different kind - an industry-wide feeling of exhaustion, anxiety, stress, frustration, and fear. We are running out of energy. There is no doubt that the effects of the pandemic and resulting restrictions will have an adverse effect on people's wellbeing. Scientists call for action for mental health science research with regards to COVID-19. For the hospitality workforce, passionate about and specialized in social interactions, the measures of isolation have been tremendously impactful and to some extend traumatizing. The economic hardship coming with temporary and permanent closures, reduced salaries, lack of job vacancies, and a general unpredictability further exacerbate the situation. Our industry employs large numbers of people from vulnerable societal groups who are already at higher risks of mental health issues. It is about time to put the mental health fallout of COVID-19 on the sustainability agenda and kick start a dialog on the subject.
What measures could be taken to restock on energy and facilitate mental health during hardship? How can human connections be fostered and kept intact between frontline, remote, and furloughed staff? How can different companies come together and support each other? What is and has been your personal emotional journey through the last months?
PhD, Professor at Florida International University
The COVID-19 winding road: Personal experience & Importance of Community
Running out of energy is exactly where I find myself. I went from an active interpersonal schedule with 200-300 people a day to forced isolation, alone, in Miami, Florida. Here it is, October 10th, 210 plus days later and still alone in a high rise, I overlook the silhouette of Miami Beach with the Atlantic Ocean peeking between hotels. In that same time a record number of plus 90 degree days with very high humidity levels presented not the best climate for walking and getting fresh air. Last week I went out for lunch with a friend in the outdoor garden of a restaurant with COVID-19 prevention practices. As we finished up I found myself gaining back energy, feeling some sparks and suddenly understanding where the daily energy quotient has been slipping off to and why. Just the dynamic of live and in-person conversation over a meal was enough to rekindle it.
Zoom has been my work and social companion as well as a mind-numbing communication platform. When first isolating I was up every morning, ready for business, on schedule. But then I sprained my knee and started getting sinus headaches and soon it seemed that when one zoom project was done I would slip off to put the knee up and fall asleep. Productivity was gliding downhill really quickly. Then I test drove a new car, with COVID-19 prevention practices, and surprise, I bought a car. Then I went house hunting and surprise, I bought a condo. In the meantime webinars needed to be organized with themes on the New Normal and guess what, I have a contract for a new online textbook on sustainable development and operations. Somehow things are getting done, but the energy quotient still drops really low. A phone call may find someone who must feel more stimulated than I do and just maybe we can laugh and eat chocolate. One day I will wake up and find a new car sitting outside a new house and think that maybe this was isolation over-reach.
In May and June of this year, The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University held a fundraising appeal to raise money for small restaurant businesses in Miami. Sunday noontime became a weekly drive-thru food fest of outrageous desserts, pulled pork meals, and other treats created by local chefs and restaurants in exchange for donation funds. We need more of that to look forward to as social get-togethers, even from one car to another. A sense of coming together, of purpose, is what is missing in our world of helping and hospitable people. Many need our skills even while we socially distance with masks, gloves and Clorox wipes. Our laughter, concern, smiles, and selflessness are needed by many. How can we do that in our communities, how can we help each other? It is perhaps harder as the weeks go on, when we had expected to be back to normal but are constantly adjusting mentally, uncertain as to what and when normal will be.