This post is also available in: Japanese
Looking back over 2022, I realise this has been a year of reconnecting, both personally and for work, as no doubt it has been for people all over the world. It has made me realise that while I enjoy my own company, I need to be able to connect face to face to others, to feel self-worth and vitality.
My family and friends live all around the world, and I had kept in touch with them, through Facebook and email, even before the pandemic. This year, visiting them in person for the first time in several years, I saw a big difference in wellbeing between those who are living near family, and have made friends in their community and those who moved away from friends and did not make any new friends. For the latter, now their family has grown up and moved away, they told me they feel not only lonely, but that they are living a worthless, selfish life.
In my work, too, there is no doubt that face to face training is preferable to online. It is hard, even if participants keep their webcam on, to gauge whether what I am saying is helping them and also to gain insights from them.
This need to collaborate to add value at work is apparent from research that has been done on executives in top global companies, by the IT Services Marketing Association. It shows that over 70% of executives are more interested than before the pandemic in collaborating with their IT suppliers to innovate and digitally transform their companies. The Japanese executives stood out as having an even higher interest in supplier collaboration than the global average.
This is presumably a legacy of Japan’s more group-oriented culture, and the ecosystems that have built up in Japan’s supply chains over the years. In more individualistic cultures such as Britain and the USA, suppliers and customers have been less collaborative and are more antagonistic towards each other.
One of the friends I reconnected with this year, a German film director I had not seen in 20 years, has made a film about a seaside community near where I live in the UK, during the 2019 Brexit negotiations. The film followed a group of dancers, comedians, singers and magicians who put on a variety show throughout the summer, and also a crab fisherman.
Although the performers were all British, they lived an internationally connected life and two of them moved to Spain as a consequence of Brexit. The crab fisherman worked by himself. His son did not want to follow him into the business. He said he had voted to leave the EU, because he felt the UK should not integrate with Europe on social or political issues.
My German friend is convinced that Britain has begun to realise that going it alone is not good for our wellbeing and is predicting that Britain will want to re-join the EU soon. I am not so sure, but I hope he is right.
This article by Pernille Rudlin first appeared in Japanese in the Teikoku Databank News in December 2022
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