Stress-management in times of Crisis

The current social and political crisis is not the only stressor that weighs on Hong Kong’s workforce, but it is a major trigger of concern, worry and uncertainty. Hence, contributing to reduced productivity due to increased levels of stress, diversion, low mood, anxiety and the need for care.

I am impressed to hear how many companies take initiative to provide various platforms in the shape of team lunches, brown bag discussions and more flexible work arrangements in order to buffer disruptions but also to sharpen the sense of community with the message that we are in this together.

Last Friday I was invited to a logistics startup. The idea was to offer a lunchtime learning session followed by an afternoon of shorter 1:1 coaching and debriefing sessions that were offered to all staff. While the learning was more geared towards the psychology of crisis and interventions to cultivate inner strength, the individual sessions were greatly appreciated and quickly booked out by staff who wanted to address a broad range of personal matters and challenges at work.

All issues discussed had to do with personal and professional development linked to the special dynamics of a startup going through the phases of growth. Many team-leads were particularly keen to learn how not to cascade their stress and pressure downwards. Together, we explored effective ways of connecting with oneself and with others.

“The stories, the environment and the pure work ethic of accountability for others brought back memories and feelings from when I started working in a dot-com startup around 2000. Good times.”

Entering the open plan office with around 120 staff, I immediately felt at ease with a sense of curious awareness. A genuine vibe. It felt very much like me in Cologne in 1999, Hohenzollenring, Palmstrasse. Three floors above a fast-food chain. Dot-com spirit. Could I have been more downtown? Could I have been more right there? After my great 3 years at BOSCH automotive I went back to study Psychology. Then started from scratch. My first full-time job puzzled my parents and my friends with degrees of freedom that were unheard of. Sushi was a thing back then. I didn’t like it.

Kowloon 2019. Fatboys, pingpong table, pizza and gorges of computer screens. Face recognition to enter: People bow in front of a small screen to stare into a camera that opens the door. Almost Japanese I think. People visit me for 15′ sessions in a room that provides confidentiality. It’s fast paced, but I get the impression that it’s worthwhile to get down to one point, to probe and to challenge. As always in my job, I am happy how much trust I receive and how willing these strangers are to share with me with me some of their inner troubles and concerns.

Thank you for your trust.