Swimming against the tide.
Covid19 has brought death, misery and disruption to billions of people across the world. At present there is no cure, no vaccine and it risks overwhelming in health and care systems across the Globe exposing under investment in the People, Processes and Systems within this sector.
The main current defence against this epidemic is lockdown and isolation to prevent the spread of the disease.
This is having a dramatic effect on business. From a total stop hospitality and tourism where restaurants, bars pubs and hotels have closed many of which will not reopen. Airlines and other transport businesses have been hit with an 80% reduction in international travel and car and public transport use down by well over 50%. High street stores remain closed and a number of high street brands who were already in very bad shape have closed for good.
Supermarkets, many manufacturers and industrial suppliers have continued running by bringing in new social distancing measures to protect employees and customers and focusing much more on internet rather than face to face sales. Schooling has continued through the use of digital and internet based teaching and parents doing more home schooling. The majority of office based workers, those that have not been furloughed, are now working remotely from home.
For certain business and sectors there has been a boom. Those that were already socially distant from their customers such as Amazon, Netflix, Zoom etc. have seen sales and usage soar. Online sales have become the norm with delivery companies being overwhelmed and supermarkets recruiting hundreds of new drivers and other staff to satisfy the exponential rise in home delivery of groceries.
Leisure goods companies and those selling materials for home crafts have been overwhelmed as we find ways to fill the hours of additional free time we have by exercising, cooking, crafting, gardening, reading.
On an environmental level we are seeing positive changes in terms of reduced carbon emissions leading to reduced air pollution, wildlife is benefiting from quieter roads, towns and cities.
As lockdowns and restriction continue thoughts are turning to a phased return to normality. The way which I and I imagine many others have seen this is that the world has been stopped for the past weeks and when the virus passes we will dive back in and start where we left off whether that be with work, education, meeting friends, shopping.
The alternative context is that in some ways CoVid19 has accelerated us years or even decades forward to a place we knew we were heading but not sure when. A place where healthcare and care systems are prioritised to manage the global health risks and an ageing population, where communities look out for those within them that are isolated and vulnerable, where digital and the internet is leveraged to bring greater flexibility to much of the workforce and is used a properly social engagement tool rather than just for individuals or one to one conversations, where traditional high street shopping has been replaced by more online retailing with a large number of smaller independents using this as their main route to the consumer allowing more choice around how we use free time.
When we do dive back in, and let's hope that is soon, we will realise that the world is not where it was. Whether personally or in business the choice will be to swim back upstream to where we were at the beginning of the crisis and start our old lives anew or go forward with the insights and changed outlooks that living through coronavirus has presented to us. The choice is ours.