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A Time of Confusion? How Indonesians are Coping with #stayathome

How are Indonesians coping with Covid-19 and what are the emotions and motivations they are currently feeling? TapestryWorks’ partners in Indonesia, Eye-to-Eye, have been talking to local people to understand how they are coping, and using StoryWorks visual tools to understand implicit motivations and emotions. They found a ‘time of confusion’.

These initial findings are based on five online focus group discussions conducted this month. The research covers high-schoolers, university students, female and male workers and housewives. The following is glimpse of some of their findings, which is being followed up with a quantitative survey (watch this space for an update soon).

What are people thinking and feeling in quarantine?

Apart from the obvious focus on health and hygiene, this is a challenging time in many other ways, and this comes through starkly in the research:

  • Workers are not ready for working from home (WFH)
  • Students are not ready for remote learning
  • Parents are not ready for children to be around them 24 hours a day
  • Families are finding that constant closeness creates conflict

Unplanned WFH is difficult without the right communication infrastructure or set-aside WFH space and many are finding that work is piling up. Students feel that they lack guidance with one-directional remote teaching leaving them unmotivated. Parents feel that young children demand constant attention while they try to balance work and home life. Families are finding greater uncertainty about their roles in the new situation along with a financially unsure future.

This situation creates many opportunities too:

  • For businesses to plan processes and systems and provide training for staff
  • To educate teachers and students in how to optimize the use of online learning
  • For brands to provide creative activities for children, tips for parents and supportive messages for families

A Sense of belonging AND isolation

These struggles are creating conflicting emotions and motivations, and the most important is the tension between a sense of belonging and a sense of isolation. Most people are very happy to be able to spend more time with their family, bringing them closer together than ever before, but at the same time they feel detached from the wider community and society and a discomforting sense of loss and isolation.

If you can’t be funny, be thoughtful

Fun and play are very important motivations in Indonesia (based on previous research). The same routine every day is creating a strong feeling of boredom and restlessness. On the positive (but serious) side of this, home stay has given everyone a chance to learn new things and reflect on what they have been doing in their lives and how things can work better in the future.

Uninspired, creative and sometimes eccentric

The need to stay at home is creating a daunting sense of what to do next, without any clear guidance, leaving every person to create their own new reality. The need to be creative is critical in changing times, but leads to different emotions in different people, and sometimes different emotions for the same person at different times:

  • A feeling of being overwhelmed, but lacking the inspiration to come up with ideas
  • A feeling of achievement in creating new ways of doing things and adapting
  • A feeling of experimentation and trying crazy ‘off-the-wall’ ideas

In summary

These are challenging times, and the future is not looking any easier, but people are resilient and adapting to a new normal. The shock of the experience is creating confusion, but also bringing out the creative side of Indonesians.

Look out for the next chapter of the story, when I will share the quantitative results. Thanks to Riri and the team at Eye-to-Eye (find out more here) for sharing their findings.

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