19 People around the World Share How They Prepare for a Post-COVID-19 World

Since its founding in 2015, impactmania always turns to the people who drive cultural, social, and economic impact. We now need their inspiration more than ever. We asked 19 impact makers how they are preparing for the new realities of a post-COVID-19 world.

Emma Tägt is the Human Resource & Talent Acquisition Manager at Sodexo Sweden since 2014. Tägt lives in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, while her husband lives in Ireland. They each have children from previous marriages and jobs in respective countries.

April 20, 2020

Paksy Plackis-Cheng in Berlin, Germany emailed with Emma Tägt in Stockholm, Sweden. 

What is your advice for preparing for post-COVID-19?

We should take this opportunity to consider how we really would like our lives to be post-COVID-19. What is important to you? What do you want more of and what would you like less of in your life?

When we look back, a lot will have changed and a lot will have stayed the same. Some of us will have been more affected than others. Some of us will lose loved ones and some of us will lose our jobs. The labor market will for sure look different. Prepare yourself as best you can financially, if you haven’t already. Also prepare yourself so you have the competencies that will be sought after. Upskilling is something we always should be doing. And if you haven’t, now is the time. You might also want to consider reskilling. There are plenty of open online courses out there that make it possible.

How is this crisis changing you? How did it affect you and your family?

If you read articles about Sweden and how we’re dealing with the pandemic you might get the impression that we are all carrying on as normal. In comparison to other countries it might be true, but it is not really how it is.

I’ve been working from home for over a month now. If you have that possibility that is what you do. In order to not go stir crazy, I stick with a strict routine of doing morning yoga. At lunchtime, I’ll go out for a walk around the block. After work I’ll go for a longer walk. I have a friend who lives close by so we meet up and walk together while practicing social distancing.

My daughter is in 7th grade and is going to school as usual. However her school has, as all other schools have, prepared for a possible closing. This has had the positive effect that they have improved their communication about what the students are working on, making sure they have access to all relevant documentation online.

I have not used public transport for over a month. The reason for this is I don’t need to since I’m not going into the office, but also out of choice. For instance, when I visit my mum, I have walked or cycled there. She is 83. I have been like “Romeo” standing under her balcony chatting away. I can see that not being able to have visitors is affecting her well-being. She has help from the municipality with cleaning and food shopping, but now she is too afraid to avail of that help. She is not living in a nursing home, which is a blessing. When I got a sore throat I self-isolated for over a week. That meant that my daughter had to stay an extra week with her dad. I missed her of course. My husband and I were supposed to spend Easter together here in Stockholm. And my flight to Ireland in May is cancelled as well. We don’t know when we will get to see each other next.

What do you think of Sweden’s approach to handling COVID-19, which has been different compared to most other countries?

What do I think about the Swedish strategy? Well, I’m not an epidemiologist nor have I studied public health. However, I do trust that our Public Health Agency is doing their best and that the recommendations they give to our Government is to the best to their knowledge. That knowledge is changing over time as we learn more about the virus.

I also trust that the majority of my fellow country-men and women are following the recommendations that we are given. We have good public health insurance, and it has been strengthened during the pandemic. This means that you can stay home sick for 21 days without applying for a medical certificate. You will be able to get up to 80 percent of your salary—up to a salary of approx. 3000 euro per month. This makes it easy to follow the recommendation to stay at home, even when you have the slightest symptom.

I am glad that I live in a democracy where our politicians do not see the pandemic as a possibility to grab more power for an unlimited time. When we look back, will there be things that could have been done differently or earlier? Probably. That will be true for other countries too. Death rates are being compared even though they are not comparable at this time.

Even though it is horrible and tragic and sad that people are dying from COVID-19. This will not be the only effect on public health. The pandemic also cause stress on people’s financial situation. A lockdown will further increase that effect. We will see an increase in mental health issues such as depression and suicide.

Increases of domestic violence are affecting women and children, but also men’s mental and physical health. Domestic violence is not as simple as one bruised eye or arm. In the long run it affects the person’s ability to support her or himself. In the worst-case scenario, it leads to the person being murdered. It will take many years before those effects can be measured.

I am glad that the crèches and elementary schools are not closed. It means that children who are being abused still go to school, hence making it easier for someone to find out about their situation. It also means that children from families that struggle financially will get a proper hot meal every school day. In Sweden a free school lunch is provided to every child in crèches and the compulsory school system. It consists of a hot meal, a salad buffet, bread, and a beverage. This, of course, will also have effect on the public health. Not only this year, but for years ahead.

What will our story be post-COVID-19?

My hope is that we don’t just bounce back to the way it was before, but that we take this experience and co-create something different.

I hope we continue to wash our hands as much as we do now since it clearly has decreased the flu and the RS-virus.

I hope that we continue to reach out a hand to those around us. That we ask others, do you need help? And that we also dare to ask for help!

We will see changes in the workplaces—working from out of the office will be more acceptable and more common.

I hope that we have learned that even the cleaner is important and that what s/he does is appreciated properly. The same goes for a lot of other occupations—there are no “easy” jobs that “anyone” can do. I also hope that this understanding leads to changes in the labor market and in organizations.

I do hope that we keep on traveling—even by plane, but that the industry finally finds ways to decrease the negative impact on the environment.

I do hope that democracy prevails.

impactmania’s past interviews and programs have been featured in international media, a number of universities, US Consulates, the UN, and have been cited by Harvard Business School, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and Duke University Press. impactmania’s Women of Impact program was awarded the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy grant (2019).