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How Does Age Affect Personal & Social Reactions to COVID-19?

by Niamh O'Donovan
December 2, 2021

So today we hear from our 50-something; Derek Cullen on this topic: as Ireland opens up more and COVID restrictions are lifted we reflect how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the lives of us all, including the Enterprise Solutions’ team. And as a result, personal, business and social behaviours may have been affected; we chat with 5 staff members about this. As our team has members in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s & 60s let’s see what someone from each decade has to say. Of course, we know that this one person will not represent their age group, they are simply representing themselves! What did Derek think?

Derek admits to being fully compliant. He said, boring as it may seem by the time he reached 50 his rule breaking days were behind him! Like so many Derek knew that it was a case of standing united against something much bigger than we understood where the sense of the unknown, at the beginning, made the majority of people compliant working as a community to help stop the spread of the virus. But he had an additional driver of concern for family, in particular his mother who had underlying health issues that required her to completely self-isolate. As she lived alone only 2 family members (Derek and his brother) visited her and became her contact to the world. He tells how her 80th birthday was celebrated in May 2020 by looking down from her apartment to her daughters-in-laws and 11 Grandchildren singing Happy Birthday up to her, not ideal. Only her sons stood by her side to deliver a cake and presents. She continued to protect herself and even her Christmas day visit was to the garden only. Sadly, in the middle of January 2021 she became very ill and they were horrified to discover that she had contracted covid, she had a very short lonely battle with Covid and passed away 8 days after been admitted to hospital. This memory of the pandemic will live with Derek forever and makes all the required change in behaviour more understandable and relevant to him. But with one exception, not being permitted to visit his Mam in hospital, even with a negative test result, was one rule Derek found tough to accept or comprehend.

As a long time, user of the motto “work is a thing you do not a place you go” and Citrix Workspace, Derek found the WFH rules OK. The main change to his routine was the lack of pressing the flesh and client meetings. Prior to the pandemic Derek spent most of his time ‘out and about’ where home, his car, coffee shops or client receptions where often his ‘office’. Teams and Zoom meetings became the replacement for this. He noted that at first it was difficult to adjust to these meetings, but it was a case of having to get used to them, and fast. He very much looks forward to getting back to the hybrid work style he had before, especially customer face-to-face meetings. He noted that the collaboration in these meetings and workshops are invaluable and irreplaceable.

Citrix workspace has been invaluable as it allows him access to a full secure desktop and applications regardless of where he is working from. Derek was able to WFH or attend the office, as IT is an essential service and because Enterprise Solutions were supporting other essential services, this was within COVID guidelines. Also, since he had a house full of adult children who were WFH or attending virtual college the office became a more productive space!

When asked what we could or should have done better, Derek quickly says ‘masks’; he expands to say the enforcement of mask wearing should have been earlier and more widespread. We were behind other countries with this one. But also, this is the one thing Derek looks forward to seeing lifted (you’ll be waiting Derek!). In his opinion having to wear facemasks, while necessary, is a complete burden. He also looks forward to being able to go to the pub without booking a table. In particular he misses being able to sit at the bar and chat rubbish with friends.

A positive aspect to the stay-at-home requirement was that his family entertained themselves. Spending more time with immediate family was fun and a positive take-away from that period of time. Also, Derek mentioned how COVID made us slow a little and we were able to be healthier, an aspect Derek will hang on to.

Derek thinks this is a period of time that we will never forget; lives have been lost, behaviours changed, work-life balance reassessed, hybrid working embraced and everyone has learnt something about themselves.

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