The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, it has become clear that how we live, work, and learn must change. Most people now realize this, but adapting can be difficult.

In our April issue, we talked about work­ing from home and how companies and indi­viduals could adjust to decentralized work­flows. A lot has happened since, and the world seems to be easing into this “shelter in place” lifestyle. But it comes at a price.

Something being felt by almost everyone is mental stress, and it is worsening as the weeks go by and the impact of social distancing grows. Some people are better than others at dealing with stress, but even those normally able to cope may find it difficult right now.

I’m one of those people. Working from home is normal for me, so that isn’t an issue. But I don’t usually stay in my house for weeks on end, and things that create balance in life are missing. I have gone months without seeing family and other loved ones. My workload has also exploded, adding greatly to mental stress. And there is no end in sight.

To find out how to manage it all, I talked to mental health experts. You can find their advice here.

Related to managing the pressures of change is communication. While it is a general rule to be mindful of how our words and interactions affect others, it is especially important in the current situation. One thing that is often lacking in the business world is empathy. At a time when most communication is virtual, it is wise to consider how words come across.

One of the benefits of working remotely for years with a team on the other side of the world is that I learned the importance of clarity in written communications. With a 14-hour time difference, we couldn’t just ask a quick question. That skill has helped me immensely over the years. It’s an important one to have right now.

The other big element of adaptation in my home, as is the case for many readers, is education. With schools forced to close, we have the disruption to our children’s lives to deal with in addition to work stress.

My son, who is a third-year student at Gakushuin University, had been in wait-and-see mode since returning from London. Finally, he started the new school year on May 12—online. My daughter, who moved to her mother’s place in mid-March to start high school, remains in limbo. Classes are currently postponed until June. And with talk of Japan shifting the start of its school year to September, who knows what will happen? With this in mind, I talked to area schools about their transition to online learning and the future of education.

As much as we would like to return to life as it was before, it is not business as usual—and it likely won’t be for some time to come. We all want to get through this and find success in the post-Covid-19 world. Working together, being flexible, adapting to change, and not putting excessive pressure on strained infrastructures is a must. Everyone is feeling stressed, so a little understanding can go a long way towards ensuring healthy relationships, businesses, and minds on the other side of the pandemic. 

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.