Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

Stop me if you have heard this before, but the general belief among people seems to be that separation rates among expatriates are higher than those among the native (aka stay-at-home) professionals. I would like to point out that this is not the case. The reality is in fact that this idea comes from the fact that the impacts of family separations are much greater. Think about the difficulty of handling separation and potential custody disputes through geographical boundaries.

Discussion among multinational Global Mobility circles is centering on the issue of Dual-Career Expat Couples. 

Why You Need To Care About This

You may be wondering, how do their personal relationships and related problems impact businesses? The answer is simple: 

People would choose to leave their international assignment in order to save their marriages or as one Partner in one of my former GM Leader roles once said “Happy Wife, happy Life”.

In fact, a McKinsey study shows that 70% of expat assignments fail, meaning the position gets vacated, companies have to spend extra money to replace and train personnel, meaning their growth slows down.  Businesses therefore have a vested interest in seeing these relationships continue to succeed. 

To get the perspective of the professionals, research conducted by PwC found that most employees listed the spouse’s career as a barrier to mobility. 

Many would not choose to disrupt their spouse’s established careers and move them to another country.

Reports from Crown and Brookfield pointed out that family challenges of international relocation remain a top reason for assignment refusal and assignment failure, while a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggest that many expatriate marriages fail often at huge cost to organizations (McNulty, 2015). In fact, nearly 70% of expatriates and their spouses reported “marital breakdown”as the most important reason why relocations fail (Lazarova et al., 2015; Lazarova & Pascoe, 2013). 

The reasons for Expatriate Failure are usually not well captured. There is a data hole here and we have to assume that family reasons are a major reason for expatriate failure rates. This lack of data is something that needs to be addressed in the near future as the importance of this issue rises, like a recent survey from Mercer highlights. According to the NetExpat and EY Relocation Partner Survey 71% of the companies they surveyed claim that Expat Spouse’s unhappiness is the primary reason for Expatriate Failure. 

In the light of all these findings, improving spouse and family assistance as well as spouse career support clearly need to feature at the top of the list of challenges and priorities of Global Mobility programs.

When it comes to Expatriate Failure rates, one example that I tend to criticize is that often assignments end prematurely because of business considerations, expats accepting a new role in a new location or ending school years. However, the assignment was still a success. 

The current definition of Expatriate Failure would categorize such an assignment as a “failure”

In contradiction to “Expatriate failure”, “Expatriate Adjustment” is used as a common way to measure “success”of an  international assignment or project and often equalized with carrying out the assignment during the assigned period.

There isn’t a quick or easy solution to this issue, especially with the data hole present. Let us therefore look at possible solutions to this issue, how to improve the Expat Experience (XX) for your spouse or life partner and how best to handle the issue in case the worst outcome becomes inevitable.

Besides Expat Spouse’s career, KPMG identified another main demographic reason that leads employees not to take up an international assignment: sexual orientation. 

In 2018, only 40% of the companies they surveyed had Diversity and Inclusion objectives as part of their Global Mobility strategy, while only 20% had actually planned to review their policies after reassessing the demographics of their globally mobile employees based on diversity. 

Additionally, excluding gender, other points such as ethnicity, age, religion, disability status, have not yet been captured in the global mobility space. 

Like in most of today’s international companies, you too have probably come to recognize the proven benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. However, if you are in a same-sex relationship the reality of Global Mobility can be complex. Even if your Global Mobility Manager is open you could be faced with immigration challenges and prejudice in the host country.

How we Define Expat Spouse

As most countries require you to be legally married to enter their borders, I will be using the term Expat Spouse for life partners as well. Also, this term applies to all genders and same-sex relationships. For the sake of clarity, with the gender neutral ‘spouse’ is meant the expatriate’s life partner and the term is also commonly included in contracts and policies for international assignments. We will also use the term Expat Couple. For further definitions and terminology you can consult “The Global Mobility Workbook”(2019).

What you can do: Eight  Ideas to Avoid Family Separation on Your Expat Assignment

1 – Involve Your Spouse 

It is crucial that you (the Expat) appreciate and contribute in any way possible in order to not let your Expat Spouse compromise their career. Many Expat Spouses can probably relate to the experience of living in a country which is not always of their choosing. 

Often, they also have very high professional qualifications and years of solid work experience behind them. Suddenly though, they are left without any employment despite real efforts to find work, and might even struggle to have their degrees recognized in the new country. 

The most important point here is that you involve your Expat Spouse in the decision-making process from the beginning, not only when the moving truck pulls up the driveway.

2 – Understand Immigration

Many countries do not automatically grant the right to work to the Expat Spouse. You need to check if your company will support your Expat Spouse with obtaining a work permit. You can check the host country’s immigration websites for initial guidance.

3 – Support as Long as necessary 

Assist your spouse in getting a job or starting their own business by being financially supportive. You can agree on a temporary loan so they don’t feel dependent on you. Discuss the financial situation during the assignment and what it will mean for their old-age pension and other saving plans they might have. Make sure you aren’t troubling them by overemphasizing.

4 – Spend Quality Time Together

A new place can feel daunting and scary, often lonely. Spend quality time with your spouse so they don’t feel alone in a new place. Plan weekends away so you get to know the positives about living in a new culture, not just the daily life. Explore the new culture and meet other people to build a network of friends fast.

5 – Consider Joining A Support Group

Joining a support group of people who are going through similar experiences can also guide your Expat Spouse in adjustment to change. There are several online and physical communities around the world that are worth looking into. And when it comes to Switzerland alone, the choice is large: from the well known Internations to Expatica, and from the Zurich Spooglers to the Hausmen of Basel, the opportunities to connect with fellow Expats and Expat Spouses in the country are plenty.

6 – Help Your Spouse In Finding Volunteer Work 

In Switzerland a lot of associations depend on volunteers. Search for English-speaking groups your Expat Spouse could support, like SINGA Switzerland or Capacity Zurich. If you have children , you can also offer your help to international schools and kindergartens. Generally, this is easier done by joining parents’ associations like the one at the Leysin American School in Switzerland, or at TASIS, but also at the Zurich International School or at the Inter-Community School Zurich.

7 – Give them a Coaching Voucher for a Session with Angie

I have a lot of experience with helping clients to mend their broken relationships. One session can already help to shift the Spouse’s mindset from victim to self-reliant, strong, and active professional.

8 – Step Back For The Next Career Move Of Your Spouse

Even though this one idea is pretty self explanatory, it is hard to do in practice especially if your income is a lot higher than the income of your Spouse. Take turns in whose career is leading the decision for the next assignment. That means stepping back when it is your spouse’s turn to move up in their career.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

Resources

If you cannot afford our program you can still profit from our expertise if you purchase “The Global Career Workbook” (2016) and read these blog posts.

Hit post No. 1

How to Get a Swiss Recruiters Attention Through Well Written Cover Letters & Organised Testimonials

Hit post No. 2

Top 10 Tips for a Killer Linkedin Profile

Hit post No. 3

Bourne Effect

Other helpful posts:

References:

Black, S. J., Mendenhall, M. E., Oddou, G. (1991). „Toward a Comprehensive Model of International Adjustment: An Integration of Multiple Theoretical Perspective”, The Academy of Management Review, DOI: 10.2307/258863

Bruno, Debra. (2015, March 18). „Divorce, Global Style: for Expat Marriages Breaking Up is Harder to Do”, The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/03/18/divorce-global-style-for-expat-marriages-breaking-up-is-harder-to-do/

KPMG. (2018). „Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility”, KPMG. Retrieved April 30, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

Hsieh, T., Lavoie, J. & Samek R. (1999): „Are you taking your Expatriate Talent seriously?”, The McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-63725939/are-you-taking-your-expatriate-talent-seriously.

Lazarova, M., McNulty, Y. & Semeniuk, M. (2015). „Expatriate family narratives on international mobility: key characteristics of the successful moveable family”, in Suutari, V. and Makela, L. (Eds), Work and Personal Life Interface of International Career Contexts, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 55-76. 

Lazarova, M. & Pascoe, R. (2013). „We are not on vacation! Bridging the scholar-practitioner gap in expatriate family research”, in Lazarova, M., McNulty, Y. and Reiche, S. (symposium organizers), ‘Moving Sucks!’: What Expatriate Families Really Want (and Get) When They Relocate, Symposium at 2013 US Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Lake Buena Vista, FL.

McNulty, Y. (2015). „Till stress do us part: the causes and consequences of expatriate divorce”. Journal of Global Mobility, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 106–136. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-06-2014-0023

McNulty, Y., Selmer, J. (2017): Research handbook of expatriates.

Weinberger, A. (2019a): „The Global Mobility Workbook“, Third Edition, Global People Transitions, Zurich.  

Weinberger, A. (2019b): „The Use of Digital Intercultural Coaching with Expats and Implications for Transition Plans in Global Mobility”, Master’s thesis, The Institute for Taxation and Economics, Rotterdam, from https://feibv.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Master-Thesis_Weinberger-Angela_Jan-2019_Final.pdf

Emergency

If you are on my reader list you have probably known me for a while now. In all those years of us interacting with each other did I ever let you down? Did I ever mention that I was “under the weather”, “have a migraine” or “that I am on sick leave.”? 

Do you remember when that was?

Because the last time I remember that I was not working because I had the flu was in 2011 when I was still working for PwC. You probably didn’t know me then. The last time I was hospitalized with a slipped disk was in 2007 in Frankfurt. I’m considered an active and healthy person at almost 48 years (Yes, rub it in…). As you know from Pandemic – Part 1 I can go skiing for a week despite the fact that I’m not exercising as much as I should. 

Come #Day4 (Tuesday, 17 March 20) and I think I will die alone in my apartment. After the hasty return from skiing and emergency managing work on Monday I felt extremely dizzy that morning. I was concerned that I was going to faint. I wanted to get tested for CORONA-Virus. I made an appointment at my doctor’s practice for the afternoon. I was willing to pay 200 CHF (that was the price I heard). I just wanted clarity on what was going on with me.

Emergency

The Dark Side clouds Your Judgement

My doctor suggested I was having an anxiety attack from being alone at home and from reading everything I could about CORONA. He said that my blood and blood pressure was fine, heart rate fine and that he couldn’t hear anything worth noting in my lungs. Also, he mentioned that they didn’t have enough tests so only “serious cases” would be tested. I wasn’t even a “case”. I was just imagining… The dark side had taken over obviously. I felt stupid, like a little reprimanded 7 year old asking to stay home from school for nothing. Went home and (oh surprise) was calm, composed and better. 

I worked more than normal, because (as you might know) I’m dealing with immigration issues, health and safety topics and I run a start-up. I had new team members to train from the home office and a lot of stuff needed to be organized now that is usually done by other people…such as making sure I have something to eat. In week 2 I had a migraine and other issues but women get that stuff (although it’s never been so bad…). I reminded my doctor one more time in writing that I wanted to get tested and why. In the meantime, two friends from skiing were confirmed positive.

After the second week of quarantine was over, I informed my doctor and the cantonal health authority  that I felt okay and that I would like to ask my partner to return home now. The doctor had previously instructed me to “clean the bathroom”. You have to know that we have a rather small apartment in central Zurich. I was concerned that my partner could get infected through me which is why I had asked him to move out while I was in quarantine.

Kylo Ren must Breathe

To be honest I had breathing issues in St. Anton and my chest hurt sometimes. My friend said that I was snoring at night. Like everybody else though I was in strong denial. I thought it could be the virus but there were also a lot of other options (mountain disease, overconsumption of Schnaps, lack of general fitness, a tight nose…). 

I should have listened to my body instead of the doctor. From #Day17 onwards I found it hard to talk on G-Hangout, my voice was straining, I was getting tired easily. (I can hold full-day workshops and lectures normally.) My stress level was at peak because I didn’t sleep well at all. #Day18 and #Day19 I just hoped for the weekend.

#Day21 I need to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon. #Day22 finally Saturday and I’m outside collecting twigs, returning the recycling, making decorations, spring cleaning and building a bird gym. 

#Day23 I spent painting and offline. I was in my happy place, the post on the Pandemic Part 3 was almost done and I felt I was finally productive again. I felt that we would manage to survive this pandemic as a couple, as a family and as a team.

Suddenly, I felt like Kylo Ren had put his mask over my face (how did he do that?). My breathing was harder, the chest pain became worse and I sat at the open window counting to 10. When I lifted the washing basket I saw stars (not the ones outside). 

This was not me. The dark side had taken over my body. I was out of force.

The Corona-Jedi

On Sunday night we decided to call the Aerztefon. Despite a few technical Internet issues I got help and an ambulance took me to the hospital. Sunday night after a CT the doctor confirmed, that I have #COVID19. 

Many of my symptoms over the last three to four weeks were probably COVID19-related. As soon as I was lying there I started to relax. I felt safe. I could finally sleep well for the first time since we left St. Anton. (…)

The Hirslanden clinic in Zurich is well-equipped to deal with COVID19 patients. They have great nurses and doctors. I had a nice view, birds singing in the morning and evening. The food was excellent. On Thursday (#Day27) I was released and asked to join the rebellion.

I’m now staying in a temporary place until a spaceship picks me up because my partner is in quarantine at home. I feel fine today as I’m writing this. I still need to bring my energy level back to 100% but I can proudly say that I’m now a CORONA-JEDI. 

In my view, the “mild” version of COVID19 should be rebranded to “the Rollercoaster”. Looking back I think I went through five loops of feeling better, then worse, then better, then worse etc. With every loop a new area of my body was under attack. RIght now, I still have a mild fallout and I tend to become tired out of the blue. 

In case you are now in the situation where you are not sure about your symptoms please request to get tested with urgency. If the cabin fever is getting too hard to handle, please reach out to me. We can talk this through. You will be fine eventually. Don’t make the same mistake and wait too long. Get clarity now and deal with the dark force. Check out my 20 missions below and don’t be a stranger.

Thank you to everyone who messaged me last week. I really needed to hear your words.

Have a creative week ahead!

Angie

 

20 Quarantine Missions

40) Get to know the dark force. Watch this video by @chriscuomo. Once I got that, I decided to get up and move in my “isolation cell”. Since the beginning of the lockdown in Switzerland I have taken in the fresh Zürich air as often as possible even if it means wearing a pashmina in the summer. Get up and move.

41) Try Claudia Horner’s Online Active Meditation. I’ve been trying to show you active meditation in this video in SloMo. You can do this in a small confined space as well.

42) Make Something Creative with Coffee. Coffee powder is useful to save plants.

43) Learn to Bake German Vollkornbrot. This is a great skill to have at any time, anywhere in the galaxy. Even in Bothawui the traders sometimes accept German Vollkornbrot as a currency especially when they have digestive challenges.

44) Start A Wish Book. A wish book helps you to write down what you are wishing for and keep it all in one place. I’m at wish No. 1281 right now. It’s important to make concrete, motivating, always present, imaginable, sensible and ethical wishes. They should be open-ended (because otherwise we call them goals.).

45) Upgrade The Home Office. Get a few classy products via home delivery by Papeterie Fischer. They still have toilet paper and their service is completely personal.

I would like to buy that globe for my upgraded home office. Seen at @paperterie_fischer_ag.

46) Read A Paper Book. Discover the good old bookstore again.

47) Take a Bollywood dancing tutorial with Stuti Aga Dance Company.

48) Follow real Subject Matter Experts and Scientists. Here is a wonderful analysis by @maithi_nk in GERMAN. This is a well-explained analysis of where we right now in the pandemic and what to expect by maiLAB. She has a few followers.

49) Buy That Camera. Take an online photography class and work on your technique.

50) Plan A Journey to A Country You Didn’t Dare to Go Before Covid19. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That you catch diarrhea? Ha.

51) Write That Novel You Have Been Talking About. If that’s too scary, write a guest blog for us on the #pandemic and how you are coping with it from wherever you live right now. Baby Steps, honey. 

52) Conduct one Expert Interview per Week. Post your video on Youtube or a write-up on LinkedIn. Give the Subject Matter Expert the credit, exposure and funding they might need right now in order to continue their life’s work.

53) Use ISOS. If your company is a member of “International SOS” download the ISOS App and sign up NOW.

54) Send an Orchid to an Elderly Person by chipping in the CROWDFUNDING of Hans-Peter Meyer and his wife from SwissOrchid. You can follow them on Instagram too.

55) Make a fasting cure for a few days. Angela Warm offers webinars on cleaning and cleansing. She also mixes the most amazing soothing creams. https://warmwellness.com/

56) Go Wild with Online Karaoke. I haven’t tried this because I prefer to sing in the bathtub with Chris Mann singing Phantom of the Opera. However, I think it would be a lot of fun. I also love this song “Thank you Frontline”.

57) Write the SWISS Emergency Number on a Big Display. This way you don’t have to search when you’re unwell. Remember 144 is for life-threatening emergencies. For #COVID19 call the “Aerztefon” if you suspect you have #COVID19 and cannot reach your doctor. 0800 33 66 55

58) Go on a Movie Date. Order a pizza or piadina from SPIZZATI and watch a movie with a date online. There is FB Watchparty, streaming etc but you can also watch TV together and use the commercial breaks to talk via WhatsApp call. During the moving you just mute yourself. That way it feels as if you are watching together.

59) Join A Hackathon Like this One. Hackathons can be a high energy, adrenaline filled event for coding enthusiasts, but they are now coming together to do global good, like the Versus Virus Hackathon. Considering joining it if you are eager to help.

60) Pack an Emergency Backpack w/ Essentials. Toiletry, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, comb, brush, razors, cream and vaseline, eau de toilette, medicine, paper and pen, a pocket book, phone, charger, headphones, wallet, passport or ID, medical information (allergies), emergency contact numbers, cash, jogging pants, one change of clothes and underwear.

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#CoronaCatan

Do you know the board game CATAN? I’m rebuilding a spaceship in my living room. Sometimes it is also called home office. I’m looking for a few items that I don’t have right now. Maybe you want to get rid of them in exchange for other essentials. I’m looking for a good microphone, an external CD drive, binoculars / opera glasses and a big globe. I would also like a telescope. I can pay in the currency of toilet paper, yeast and pasta.

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Self-Isolation Instructions

If you need to self-isolate (anywhere in the world) these instructions might be helpful.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/dam/bag/en/dokumente/mt/k-und-i/aktuelle-ausbrueche-pandemien/2019-nCoV/merkblatt-selbstisolation-covid-19.pdf.download.pdf/covid-19_instructions_self-isolation.pdf

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FOLLOW ME

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Follow me on Twitter (@angieweinberger).

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I also share personal photos on Instagram (@angie_weinberger).

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Do you like conspiracy theories?

Various novel-like Holocaust scenarios circulate on the Internet that report the outbreak of a biological weapon from Wuhan. The last one I read scared me a little but then I thought it must be FAKE news because according to this theory I would be dead right now and it’s weird that I’m still able to write to you if I was dead right? So I dug a bit and found a good site to verify whether what you are reading is real or just another conspiracy theory. What annoys me even more than conspiracy theory (where at least I can appreciate the storytelling element of the writer) are those former doctors, virologists or others who downplay the Corona-Virus. These people are responsible for stubborn elderly citizens still going to supermarkets and pharmacies thinking that COVID19 is just “like the flu”. The other people that annoy me (please unfollow if you belong to them) are those who think that a 2% mortality rate is acceptable. Either they don’t understand statistics (please unfollow) or they are just nazis or social darwinists. A 2% mortality rate is high.

Example Switzerland: They say for “herd immunity” you need about 60% of the population infected and healed from COVID19. 

8’200’000 x 0.6 = 4’920’000

4’920’000 x0.02 = 98’400 (UNLESS a CURE is found before).

By now you know at least one person who is infected so think about this. I’m still unhappy about the lack of CORONA Tests in Switzerland. It took Switzerland five weeks to get organized for mass testing. An app is being discussed to track and trace infected people and their contacts.

This is a country that is one of the biggest pharma exporters in the world, supposedly has one of the highest standards in healthcare in the world AND practices “WAR Scenarios” constantly. Am I missing something?

Further reads:

https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/05/theres-something-out-there-spread-of-disease

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN20M19I

Do you know this feeling when you wake up in the morning, fully energized and ready to go to work?
And you think “Hmmm, I just had this nightmare about a global pandemic, where we would all stay at home…ALL THE TIME…” and you think…”I’m going to pretend that life is normal…”. 

You get up, have a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed in your work clothes, you put on make-up and you have your usual cup of coffee.

Then you realize “Bloody hell, I didn’t watch a movie. I didn’t dream of this nightmare. No. This is real…”.
You suddenly notice that church bells are ringing at 6 AM and a lot of different birds are chirping too. You notice that something is off. And you are not dreaming any longer. 

You are in the middle of a global pandemic. Not a movie. It’s the week of the passion of Jesus Christ and the world is in a state of global mindfulness. 

Sometimes, I wake up thinking that it was a bad joke. Thinking that somebody will say “APRIL, APRIL”. But April Fools Day was cancelled this year.

We changed our clocks to summer time and I didn’t notice because alarms are overrated when you work from home.

The Army has been called in to help the hospitals in Switzerland. A first since THE WAR.

Wimbledon will be POSTPONED for the first time since THE WAR. Even Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation. We are in a real crisis.

People are losing lives, jobs and certain global politicians spread rumors and misinformation. 
One could despair.

I decided to take baby steps to help you and myself maintain sanity in this crisis. Last week, I shared 20 Quarantine Recommendations.

I want to share with you 20 more ideas to deal with the crisis. If you try out one recommendation a day we should get through to my birthday together. 

My Quarantine Tips for Holy Week AKA The Passion Games (“Passionsspiele”)

21) Structure Your Day Like A Monk. Follow our #Rockmeretreat structure with me from Tuesday onwards. Setting a routine adds discipline even if you have to work from home. This is officially now termed WFH, not WTF.

Here’s a also helpful book Daily Rituals: Women at Work and top tips on working effectively from home by @newinzurich.

22) Listen to Live Readings. Set aside some time in your routine for enjoying the arts – this crisis has given rise to narrations, podcasts and radio shows as people find new avenues for positive expression. A few interesting examples you can integrate into your daily life are the SRF Radio Play, author Thomas Meyer’s live reads and author Saša Stanišić’s “Literature in times of uncertainty” charity reads for women’s shelters over on Twitch. If Shakespeare is more to your taste, Sir Patrick Stewart is narrating the Sonnets on his personal Twitter.

23) Read Different News Channels. With certain global politicians causing chaos with rumours and bad information, it is essential that you verify any “facts” from various reputable sources. That is why I recommend reading or watching different news channels – not only will you stay updated on what is happening in various sectors of the world, but also remain aware of the facts about the unfolding pandemic. Stay up-to-date with the Covid-19 situation in Switzerland here. Republik magazine is also running a newsletter to keep everyone in Switzerland informed. Businesses and the financial sector have been hit hard by COVID-19 related shutdowns and quarantines, so CNNMoney Switzerland’s newsletter is a good way to stay on top of the news coming out of that sector. Whichever source you go for, it is generally a good idea now to double check from another trusted source – forwarded email chains are not a good example of that!

24) Go on Treasure Hunts. Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of completing tasks and checking them off? That sounds like an average work day but it’s what you do on a treasure hunt! You can see that the principle is the same, so why not reward yourself by creating and completing hunts for yourself?

  • Take a Shopping bag and aim to either recycle glass, enter a supermarket, go to the post-office or pharmacy.
  • Reward yourself at home.
  • Look determined when you see police.
  • Wear a Face Mask. 😷

25) Practice a new language you wanted to learn or take an amazing online course. For people struggling to find productive ways to spend their time in quarantine, learning a new language is a great way to engage yourself in a meaningful activity. If you are an expat, perhaps you can even utilise some time to perfect your grasp of German! Other people can find value instead with studying towards new skills, online courses are an amazing option for them. You can sign up to this fantastic offering for Expat Coach training by Sundae Schneider-Bean.

26) Take A Virtual Museum Tour. As I mentioned earlier, CNNMoney Switzerland is a good new source. You can add “good tour guide” to that list as well, their recommendation for virtual museum tours is a lockdown-friendly way to get your fix of European art and history. You can even play art games on their websites! The message here, which I would like to amplify, is that engaging with the arts and doing things you would do normally (albeit in a different way!) is an important way to maintain your mental health in these dire times.

27) Buy Paper Books in the Neighborhood. Paperback sales have shot up by 35% due to the imposition of isolation/quarantine rules as readers finally get to reading everything on their bucket lists. The Hirslanden Bookshop has been closed due to the pandemic, however you can still order books from them via phone or email and they will deliver to your home or by post. I think this is an opportune moment for escapism into those books you have been meaning to read for years, what about you?

28) Check Your Immigration Status by Host Country. Update permits and passports. As an expat, you will be facing a time of unprecedented uncertainty and stress because of the whole Covid-19 situation, you may even find yourself forgetting some important appointments! Therefore it would be a good time to check up on whether your permits, visas and passports are all updated and not nearing expiry.  Become Local is the name of Sonia’s company but she helps with ALL immigration into CH…not only local hires.

29) Claim Daily Indemnity Insurance Compensation. Check if you are entitled to daily indemnity and report your doctor ordered corona quarantine as an “accident”. An example from AXA-Winterthur would be here.

30) Clean Up Your “Command Bridge” every night. On a spaceship you also need to make sure that nothing flies around. I also shut down my 3 computers on Friday night. I find decluttering very helpful at all times but I noticed it helped me cope with insomnia too. Now you have no excuse to avoid that clutter you have been meaning to clean for ages, remember that this might boost your productivity and your feeling of accomplishment.

Decluttering also allows you to disinfect the most used areas of your house: your bathroom and kitchen. We must do as much as we can to prevent the virus from spreading, both outside and inside the home. Click through to read up on and motivate yourself to clean! One post is using Feng Shui as a basis for decluttering.

31) Through Family Dinner Follow the Space Mission Expert Advice. You have only been in isolation for a few weeks and already you feel like things are getting out of hand for you – imagine those people who live quarantined from the rest of the world for months and years! I am of course talking about astronauts in space – SRF Forward has a great video with tips taken from information about how astronauts handle isolation and how we can use that advice for ourselves.

32) Pretend You Are A “Star Wars” Character. Ensure you build a cleaning station for missions to Earth 🌍. If you don’t know what “Star Wars” is, now is the perfect time to find out by watching the original trilogy.

33) Hire a Deep Cleaning Expert. With so many spaceships and space stations leaving their planets to explore the far reaches of the galaxy, they surely must have a very efficient cleaning regimen to prevent filth and disease. This is definitely the right time to learn to be experts in cleaning. Maybe afterwards we will gain new appreciation for the cleaning crews on the Death Star who kept it so clean!

34) Build Your Own Face Mask. An unfortunate reality of the pandemic and medical crisis is that there is a severe lack of PPE and face masks in both the general public and the medical community. We can play our part in easy the load off production and allowing healthcare workers and doctors and nurses access to medical-grade masks. All you have to do is build your own! The instructions in this video are not that difficult, I am sure you have basic skills with a needle. Not only are you protecting yourself with this action but protecting countless others – an important role in flattening the curve.

35) Blow out Eggs and Create Easter Decorations. This is a tradition from my childhood known well in German speaking countries. Usually it’s done during the catholic fasting period and we’re a bit late for that but maybe your kids are bored after such long periods of homeschooling and they need a project for “Good Friday”. Check out Eier ausblasen – Ostern Lifehack – Anleitung and Color unicorn easter eggs with shaving cream 😍 

36) Paint Anything with Water Colors, Crayons and Paper. Who is ready to learn a new creative hobby? It is inevitable that during this period where everyone is supposed to be home, that you will become agitated, bored or even depressed. Hobbies are a great way to stay active and positive and what better way than with art? Follow these simple tutorials with watercolors and you can be on your way to painting self-portraits, still life or even the landscapes you can see out of your window!

37) Engage The Wildlife. Birds of various kinds have been spotted in Zürich over the last week. It’s fun for kids (and adults) to feed and name them. I’m feeding a black raven and named him “Franzerl”. I’m standing at the window shouting “Franzerl, Franzerl”. Obviously his lady raven will be named “Sisi” if she ever shows up at my feeding station. Watch those videos of how the animals are secretly taking over the world.
Coronavirus Lock down effects on animals (Part-1)
Dolphins and fish: nature moves into spaces left empty by Italian coronavirus quarantine

38) Buy Vouchers to support our Hairdressers. If we are able to ride out the lockdown period at home in comfort and financial security, spare a thought for those whose livelihood depends on things being open – hairdressers for instance cannot work from home! Let us be part of a supportive community and bolster each other. Annette Ramme is someone who could use that support in keeping her business running. Mention @angieweinberger for a 20% discount if you buy before 19 April 2020.

39) Have a Virtual Beauty-Day with the Girls. Drink Champagne and put on a FACEMASK (of the other kind). Self-care comes in many forms. It can be in the form of hobbies, learning or even sleeping. Sometimes, though, self-care comes in the form of a facemask. Maybe this weekend you can round up the girls, your go-to group of friends (on video conferencing of course!) and relax with some soothing and nourishing face masks. Maybe ask if your partner is interested in it as well, their skin will definitely need some hydrating!

40) Apply a Handmask. practice “Hand Discovery” with a Partner or a child. My hands are very dry from washing them about 30 times so I made a hand mask and then applied the discovery method to my own hands. This is a method we learn at the RockMeRetreat. For now, you can just massage your hands, apply a fatty cream, put on plastic gloves and soak while you are watching ….(enter your favorite Netflix show here).

I liked this image on how to move from Fear Zone to Growth Zone with #COVID19. Let me know in which zone you see yourself via the Rockmeapp. Credit to unknown author
Global Mobility Folks!
Please join the Expatise Academy portal for group chat and support as well as great online learning tools for GM Pro’s.

We’re currently offering all modules at cost EUR 114.95 to help you in case you lost your job or need to move on.

The value of this course is at least EUR 1’800. Sign up now and please mention @angieweinberger. Will meet you there.

The last week has been one of the most challenging weeks of my life.

The bad news first: I have not been tested for CORONA-Virus, because my symptoms seem to be too mild. My dizziness, weakness, cough might just be a sign of an anxiety attack, mountain disease or a weird cold. For me, it would have been better to know if I’m positive or not. Not knowing if I’m potentially a transmitter of the disease makes it hard to allow my partner to come back home.. This is week 2 of my quarantine.

For those of you who are still trying to catch up on emails here is what happened and why I’m under quarantine. Read this!

The good news: Last night I could finally sleep for more than a few hours and I have the feeling that I’m on the right track mentally and also that my body is getting better. I promised that I would keep you up-to-date and share a few lessons with you. Maybe you can imagine that I have become an information junkie. So I’m trying to do this:

  1. I summarize 20 quick recommendations in a list style. Most of my recommendations are geared towards expats and international people living in Switzerland. Most of the advice will be working in any other country too though.
  2. I’m offering deeper conversations for those of you who face similar problems and I will be available via the RockMeApp over the next few days. I’m also giving every client free access to the online version of the RockMe! program. It might help you to work on a career-related topic during this crisis.
  3. I’m looking for an idea on how to distribute more information to clients and other people. At the moment I’m using Twitter (@angieweinberger) and LinkedIn.

I hope this is helpful and let’s stay connected through these times. Check below my 20 recommendations for Quarantine.

Angie’s 20 Quarantine Recommendations

  1. First Things First: Fix your” oxygen mask”, open windows regularly and try to take in sunshine. Look into ways to improve your immune system naturally. Eat Vitamin-C and Vitamin-D. Prepare your meals with grace and dedication. Add ginger to anything. Drink more water and herbal tea than usual. I start my day with adding all the water to the table so I know how much I have to drink.
  2. Help Migrants and Refugees: Share the multilingual updates from your country health authority. If you have capacity and want to do something useful, help the ministry of health by sharing the information in different languages. It seems the migrant population was not addressed in previous campaigns and many migrants do not fully understand what is going on. Help migrants in your neighbourhood if you can. This page has information in many languages.
  3. Buy Local: Ensure that you know where you can support local businesses by ordering food and home delivery. Newinzurich has great information for day-to-day topics such as food delivery, restricted areas, and online entertainment.
  4. Help the Neighbors: If you feel you can support others, get to know the neighbors through this site and offer your help.
  5. Be Reachable and Savable: Have phone and emergency numbers next to your bed. I left my apartment door unlocked when I felt dizzy. I will soon feel strong enough to lock it again.
  6. Define your Essentials: Stock up on essentials without hoarding, maintain a basic list of food and household items that you always want to keep in the house. I’m not good at this at all since I’m a convenience shopper but at least now I have enough pasta to survive a week or two without support.
  7. Consider Small Projects: If you are fit and free of symptoms, start spring cleaning at home
  8. Reduce Your Online Time: We are using the Internet too much now. We should learn to entertain ourselves offline too. Listen to old-fashioned radio, watch DVD’s or learn games with dice or chess. Read a paper-book. Challenge the kids for a round of “Kniffel”.
  9. Learn Basic Relaxation Methods:
  10. Enjoy the Fact That you are Still Alive: Sing and dance, play an instrument. Invite your friends to a virtual coffee chat and set up dinner dates.
  11. Reduce Your Work Time: Set a work schedule for max 6 hours a day if you are well enough. I’ve decided that I will work every day but only as long as I’m feeling okay. I have a hard time sitting in an office chair for more than two hours. I’m working mainly from my red sofa. It feels more like fun this way.
  12. Check Your Health Insurance: If you live in Switzerland you probably have basic coverage and additional hospital coverage. If you are not sure what is covered exactly and if your family members are covered for the same treatment it’s a good time to check that.
  13. International and Local Pension Plans: Verify and update the beneficiaries on your pension plan, check if your pension plan is sufficient for now or if you need to set money aside for your old-age pension. Usually, we procrastinate on these topics but in a situation like this we want to be sure our family is not suffering any unnecessary stress.
  14. Have Cash at Home: I keep more cash than usual. Even though it is generally recommended to pay with cards and other cashless payments for dealing with grocery shopping and pharmacies, you might need more cash than usual. Sometimes you just want to give a person a tip or you need to pay cash at the door. I know that I’m inviting burglars to my house writing this but I will cough at everyone who dares to enter. Karma baby.
  15. Improve your Cash Flow: If you are experiencing cash flow issues as a small company owner or freelancer please check if you are entitled to support through social security. For Switzerland, there is a temporary support package (see email below from Markus Hohl) and the really great news is that invoices from social security can be paid later without interest. I’m very happy with the government’s fast action following this petition.
  16. Ensure Business Continuity: I noticed that I’m the only person who can access the company bank account. So I’ve organized power of attorney for two close friends. The bank was very supportive and delivered forms in no time. I hope we can get everything set up digitally.
  17. Do Admin Stuff: You have to a lot of admin work anyway such as your tax declaration. If you are bored you can work on your tax declaration for 2019. The deadline has been extended to 31 May 2020 in Zurich for everyone. If you are done with your taxes think about all the money you can claim back now. Also, if you have a general train ticket you can freeze it online for 30 days. Small peas but they also contribute.
  18. Seek Professional Help: My colleague Axel Kellerbauer offers free German and English-speaking crisis support calls.
  19. Send an Orchid: Orchids are long-lasting and show perseverance. They are a perfect symbol for our condition. If you know a person who’s unwell send orchids. Help Hans-Peter Mayer so the orchids and shop can survive by ordering orchids for your team and others.
  20. Support this Petition: Switzerland should get more people tested against Corona-Virus in order to make more informed statements. Being in limbo myself, I know that not knowing doesn’t really help. The petition was started about a week ago and by now 2000 people have signed. The organizers will need at least 10’000 signatures before the government will take this serious enough.

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Special Offers for Our Readers (mention GPT, Angie Weinberger)

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Resources

HR Professionals:

Coronavirus HR Comms & Resources Guide

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Global Leaders and Expats:

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Medical Researchers

Sentinel Initiative 

WHO Immunization

WHO Emergencies

EDCE Europa Surveillance & Disease Data

Enthrat Covid 19 Task Force

Whatsapp Q&A by WHO

WHO Health Alert Brings Covid 19 Facts To Billion Via Whatsapp

My skiing vacation in St. Anton, Austria came to an abrupt end when we were asked around 2.30 pm while casually chatting on a chairlift to leave the town as soon as possible. By the time we returned to our apartment and while throwing everything into our luggage I told myself to keep calm. I wasn’t calm really but I functioned. My friend and I were too late. The train station was closed already, nobody was allowed to enter. Policemen with masks tried to be nice to us but we were concerned. People standing there in bulks waiting for buses, taxi drivers signaling “no” and the sudden realization that I couldn’t just call a friend or relative and ask for a pick-up. 

Because there is a chance that I contracted coronavirus. The next step was to try to get a ride to the next train station, but our landlord wasn’t allowed to leave the city. Walking was not an option either. Asking other people to take us on, probably a little late in the game. Through a friend, we got a ride to Zurich on a bus and I was very happy when my friend and I arrived at my home. It’s more than 24 hours ago and the shock seems over. I’m suddenly in a 2-week quarantine. 

This pandemic has disrupted life worldwide, resulting in (to-date) over 150,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths. You can see the live updates here

People are rightfully worried due to the unfolding scenarios: food and essential item shortages due to hoarding, misinformation and hysteria. Due to my role(s) I have been following the topic on all media for a while now. During the last week, I had a lot of good conversations with my friends. What I can share now are a few tips although I’m really in the middle of this experience myself right now.

Prepare for Self-Isolation

First and foremost, self-isolation requires letting the people around you know of it – the isolation is as much for their benefit as it is for yours. If you suspect that you do have symptoms of the coronavirus, you must also do the following:

  • Stay at home and separate yourself from all other people. If you can’t use a separate bathroom, disinfect all areas all the time.
  • Wash dishes in the washing machine.
  • Cut down your visits outside to the absolute essential medical visits. Call the doctor before you go there.
  • Store your waste securely, as it will contain used tissues and other potentially-infected litter that must remain with you until you are cleared of infection.
  • If your symptoms worsen, seek professional medical help immediately.
  • Don’t use communal washrooms. Hand wash your clothes and towels in your apartment.

For details on how to effectively quarantine yourself from others and best practices involved, please read this article detailing what to do in such a scenario. A list of what you should and should not do is also available here.

It is mandatory for those with travel history to stay in isolation, so please make sure you follow medical protocol.

Buy Groceries and Stock up on Food

If you’re like me you might not eat at home a lot. I’m the opposite of a hamster buyer so I really needed my friend to go out grocery shopping yesterday. I will look into online orders when I run out of essentials. 

Remember that we are Not at War

This is a crisis and a pandemic and maybe worse than anything we have experienced in our generation but do you remember Chernobyl in 1984? I felt similar then. We were not allowed to go out even though we couldn’t really see the “danger”. Still, we’re not at war. Shops are still operating and we have access to clean drinking water from the tab here.

The images you are seeing online of empty shelves in grocery stores, barren city centers and overflowing hospitals (especially in Italy) can make you panic. You must ensure that you don’t so that you can follow the common sense but critical advice from the government and medical professionals. For me, the best way to avoid panic is by working and prioritizing.

Follow the Guidelines of Your Local Authority

In Switzerland, this is the BAG. https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home.html

I find their updates very helpful. If you live in another country follow the guidelines set by your local authorities, both administrative and healthcare. 

That means, avoid unnecessary contact with others or your face, wash your hands frequently and definitely self-quarantine if you have returned from another country or a known “hotspot”.

I was asked to inform the authority about my quarantine and I contacted the cantonal office for Zurich. They shared these links with me.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov.html

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/selbst-isolierung-und-selbst-quarantaene.html

Get Medical Advice from Your Doctor or Trusted Sources

I read a lot online and most medical information is not backed by evidence and if you’re not sure you can trust the source you can always get a second opinion from your doctor by email or phone consultation. For example, I read twice now that you should only take Paracetamol against the symptoms.

https://twitter.com/CHUVLausanne/status/1239144803847360512?s=20

Coronavirus Infoline for CH +41 58 463 00 00, 24/7.

Plan how you will Deal with a Lockdown

Most European countries have shut down schools, educational institutes, theatres, libraries, and public gatherings. So far, public transportation in Switzerland still seems to run on the clock as usual. However, there will be delays and changes due to border controls. Also, currently, it looks like I won’t be able to go home to my family for a while. I assume we will need medical clearance before crossing a border again.

Stop Your Business Travel to Other Countries

If you haven’t yet got stuck anywhere, there is a high chance that you will get stuck next week. Unless you are an MD who saves lives I’m not sure if your business trip is really needed right now. I suggest you cancel your trips until Easter. Then you can reassess the situation.

Replace “Essentials” with Home-Made Products

Due to the unfortunate shortages created by people stockpiling items, you may be seeing empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores. Most shops now have implemented limits to how many of each item people can buy, ensuring that everyone will be able to get essential items such as hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and basic food. However, where this is not the case, think about ways to replace “essentials” with home-made products and buy the ingredients now. For example: Could you use the old newspaper to make your own toilet paper? Or how about creating your own alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Innovate

Most of Europe is in some degree of shut down at the moment, which means that both people’s daily personal lives and their work routines are affected. Businesses both large and small have been impacted by the disruptions, facing varying levels of financial hardships. Startups, in particular, will be hit hardest, particularly those which require mobility from employees.

That said, however, innovation is essential for any startup’s success and this incident should be treated as yet another opportunity to innovate. Thanks to high-speed internet and laptops, most professionals are able to work remotely from home for this period. However, this increased load on cloud services such as Slack, Zoom, and Hangouts has resulted in those services experiencing slowdowns and issues in the face of such unprecedented load. 

Upgrades to those services don’t have hard timelines because of the restrictions in place, so organizations have been clever about it. I know of a few companies who have implemented a sort of time-share for work hours. 

They have divided people’s working hours into slots to balance the load on remote/cloud services and ensure better productivity than everyone clamoring to log in remotely. A few other businesses are alternating workdays for teams – while slower, this works better for more project-oriented work.

Take stock of the remote working conditions of your teams and order laptops and mobile phones if you have not done so yet.

It’s also vital that you review deadlines and stop pestering your teams with less critical topics right now. Prioritize!

Establish emergency contact groups with your team either via Whatsapp or Slack.

Take Small Steps

Constant media coverage reinforcing the difficulties faced ahead and the issues happening currently, worry about loved ones and humanity, in general, all take their toll. Therefore, I would advise you all to steel your hearts and persevere – now is the time for us to show our resilience. If you are struggling, the following steps may help:

  1. Take things one day at a time. What are you working on today? What are you eating today? How are you relaxing today? 
  2. Set yourself small, achievable goals for the day. They can be work-related or personal. 
  3. Put aside some time for your favorite hobby. This is a stressful and anxiety-filled time for a lot of people, even if they are not consciously aware of their worry levels. Engaging in a relaxing hobby will help you regain a sense of calm.
  4. Check-in with loved ones at least once a day.

Resilience would be required a lot more for expatriates, who may find themselves in a tougher mental challenge than most. They could find themselves not being able to be reunited with their families or to care for elderly family members. Being away from family is tough on the best of days, but in this time of global worry, it is all the harder. I wish there was some instant solution I could provide or some concrete tip that could help out, but unfortunately, the reality is that as an expat you will have to bear this situation. 

If you are stuck in a situation where you are unable to be with your family, try to stay in frequent contact with them over messaging, voice and video calls. Both they and you will be feeling vulnerable right now, perhaps lost and reasonably worried, and talking to them could act as emotional support for everyone. You can also try to read up on the home country’s approved medical advice for the region and help your family understand and act upon it, to minimize their chances of contracting COVID-19.

If you want to repatriate, speak to your Global Mobility Manager now. Check if your company works with International SOS too.

Sleep is Important

Try to Get Sleep

It is easy to say “resilience” and be done with it, but the fact of the matter is that these are difficult times. People are and will experience helplessness, loss, grief and more – it is perfectly alright to feel all those things. Worry is a natural response to what is happening around us all, and in a situation like this where global events are out of our control, it is fine to be worried. A good way to regain some measure of calm would be to control the little things still in our power – organizing your house, getting your washing done or perhaps cooking and enjoying a meal.

If you find your sleep disrupted by anxiety or worry, you can try some of our tips on improving sleep. Sleep deprivation can affect your emotions even more so trying to maintain a good sleep cycle can help you manage yourself better.

Be Mindful About Your Statements About Other People

We have all been joking around about Italian pasta and the Chinese rice. However, we have to be careful that we are not all turning into a bunch of stigmatizing, prejudiced racists. Having coronavirus is not an act of God. It’s not a consequence of shameful behavior. At this point, it’s just bad luck. Let’s be mindful of how we treat people in this situation.

Think About Your Resources

My mom just asked me if I didn’t have any extra sanitizer in a bag at my grandmother’s house. Funnily, this was leftover from the RockMeRetreat 2018 and “parked” there with other materials. She will now give it to my aunt who’s at risk and I’m so grateful that I could help with something so small from a distance.

Keep Calm and Make a Plan 

I sat down yesterday with a friend and we wrote a list of how we will deal with this. Writing about the experience of being quarantined was a part of the list. We also agreed to check in on each other daily. I can hardly handle a Sunday at home without going out so the part where I’m isolated from my partner and other people needs a lot of self-care. 

If you are feeling confused or anxious, I recommend you speak to a doctor. People react differently to crisis situations and often it helps to talk about your experience. I also want to mention that sharing a bit more love and being a bit more empathetic than usual goes a long way here.

Kind Regards,

Angie

More Resources:

https://foph-coronavirus.ch/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/AS2020.030.00773D.pdf

URGENT request to stay at home now! This is a Doctor from UZH, one of our best hospitals.

https://doktor-video.wetransfer.com/downloads/66c890900962a8c5a4c7e3735edb523120200315210045/d058bf