Now is really not a good time to be working in the US or the UK. I have to say, returning to what Americans like to refer to as "Old Europe" (namely France) may have been my best move in recent memory – even if people around me doubted it for a time.
Why do I say that? Well, we do have high-speed Internet where I sit and I can see the economies flailing around like drowning - pick your favorite critter. What I'm wondering is how workplace morale in London, New York or Chicago is at the moment.
Anecdotally speaking, I've had long conversations with several good friends and scores of acquaintances in the past month and the topic they always bring up is how bad the economy is and how worried they are.
What I find most interesting is the paranoia of impending layoffs. Everyone mentioned that they're worried about losing their jobs. However, despite the slowdown of the past year, there haven't been a significant number of layoffs, especially within the tech sector.
I hope that managers (those who aren't panicking themselves) can appreciate the emotional toll such situations can have. In such uncertain times, our colleagues are looking for something true – assurances that they can continue to pay their bills, feed their kids, and keep a roof over their head.
Turbulent economic times are likely to spill over into the workplace in terms of efficiency and quality. Of course, it's still our job to remain professionals and not let events flow over into our professional performance.
That said, the economy may take some time in getting back on track and the world economy certainly can't afford to have everyone worrying – we have enough analysts on the TV doing that for us. Keeping a steady view of the situation and continuing to concentrate on professional duties won't necessarily solve the problem – but it might help it from getting worse.