If your job means everything to you, you suffer

We asked three ordinary Russians from different sectors - state, private and financial - about how the crisis has affected their personal and professional lives, and discovered that there were vast differences in their reactions and concerns for the future.

Anton Suyr, CIVIL SERVANT: Nobody in our ministry was laid off as a result of the crisis. However, a lot of my pay comes from special bonuses we get four times a year. These bonuses have been cut significantly. Most of the people in the ministry - including myself - are not natives of Moscow, and have to deal with paying for both family and astronomical rental prices.

After apartments got cheaper during the crisis, I moved to a small city outside Moscow. I got a much better flat for less money, but my drive to work is now 40 minutes. There's a new federal programme for providing subsidised housing to employees, but I doubt I'll be affected.

For the last several years, I've been working on a project that offers financial incentives to medium-sized Russian cities for improving housing and management. I can say with certainty that there has been an explosion in interest from municipalities. Since the onset of the crisis, our target cities have been viciously competing for the money we can offer them.

I wouldn't say that I take my work more seriously than before the crisis, and I'm willing to leave if the job becomes too stressful. That said, a few of my colleagues wanted to quit back in December and decided against it because they were not able to find any other work at all. Maybe I'll be more lucky now.

Yekaterina Sergeeva, BANKER: It depends a lot on a person's values: if your job means everything to you, you suffer. If you have other, more important things to worry about, you can survive. It's also important to keep in mind that the crisis is cyclical, and that better times will come round.

Not a single person working in the financial sector is safe from layoffs. Banking has been hit especially hard. Nobody in our department has been laid off, but everyone is worried about that happening. My job is not everything for me, however, so I don't mull it over every single day.

I have a friend in a Baltic country - where the situation is significantly worse - who is suffering quite a bit. I feel very sorry for him.

I haven't had to take any pay cuts and have not changed my habits. As for my future outlook, I guess some of the projects I was working on are now less significant and being carried out on a smaller scale. But, again, to me this isn't the most important thing in my life, so the situation isn't critical.

It's good if a crisis allows someone to think of things besides work. Work should not be the most important component in one's life. Unfortunately, most people don't use the opportunity to get married, have kids and just enjoy life.

Maksim Ivasyuk, CONSTRUCTION: I own a small construction company. In October, the bank where we kept our money went bankrupt. Private depositors (ie, ordinary citizens) are the first in line to receive compensation, followed by state organisations. We're in last place and still waiting for the bank's property to be sold off to receive compensation. I don't know if we'll get anything.

We've been applying for a new loan, but no bank wants to give money to a small business these days. The volume of work we do has dropped catastrophically. We've gone from having around 50 employees to 15. No new stores and offices are being built, and nobody is expanding their premises. Most SMEs surive off of small orders, and this has become a critical component of our business.

There are also tenders to repair state property. This is a new field for us, and the competition is fierce. Some companies are willing to work without a profit.

All my plans for a holiday and buying a new apartment have been put off indefinitely. I never worried about spending on food before: now I do.

I can't say our situation has improved in any way, but we have become used to surviving in these conditions. I guess we'll try to live off state tenders until better times. Many of my colleagues have gone bankrupt. Our situation is - by far - not the worst. We still manage to pay wages (with some delay) and taxes.

In a way, that bank going bankrupt saved us, because we were able to reorient our business early on. Others weren't so lucky.

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