What happens when all of this is over?

Since the official lock down in the UK began at the end of March, I’ve been getting used to new ways of living and working. Since then, I’ve worked exclusively from home and ‘attend’ regular meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. I think I’ve taken part in more conference calls and webinars in the past month than in my previous lifetime. This morning, I queued for half an hour outside Sainsbury’s to do my weekly shop – and I didn’t think that was too bad!

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All of us have had to change in the face of the Coronavirus. We’ve resented some of the changes, others we’ve embraced, and still more have had unexpected consequences.

As I write, the Government is expected to announce that the lock down will continue for at least another three weeks. But what happens when all of this is over? Will we revert to old ways, or will the new ways of working become routine?

Will the new ways of working become routine?

Before being forced into it, a lot of organisations were reluctant to allow their employees to work from home. Many pleaded impediments that have quickly been swept away in the face of necessity. In reality, I think many employers didn’t trust their employees if they couldn’t see them. Hopefully, once the crisis has passed, employers will be more amenable to their employees working flexibly, including from home. This would be great not only from the individuals’ point of view, but also because of its positive effects on the environment. Less travel to work equals less congestion equals less pollution.

The huge winners in the current lock down must be technology and IT firms. We’ve all had to get used to ‘meeting’ our colleagues and clients via Zoom or similar. The learning curve for many of us has been steep. Although teleconferencing will never be the same as face-to-face meetings, I hope that in the future we will consider whether it is really necessary to journey 50 or more miles to see someone when the meeting could be equally well accomplished via Zoom.

I’ve felt very sorry for those businesses who haven’t been able to trade during the crisis or, even worse, have had to close for ever. The hospitality and leisure industry has been particularly hard hit. However, being furloughed has meant that employees have had more time to undertake CPD. Some great free webinars have been made available during the crisis and I hope that this continues in the future.

Will we revert to our old ways?

When restrictions are lifted, we’ll all emerge blinking into the light, glad to have survived. We’ll pledge to cherish the time we spend with others, we’ll promise to shop locally and only use our car for necessary journeys. Long may this last. Unfortunately, the cynic in me thinks that it’ll only be a matter of months before we all start reverting to our old ways. To paraphrase marketing guru, Mark Ritson, speaking in a recent webinar, humans have been operating in the old ways for many many years. It will take more than three months lock down to change their habits for good.

I hope I’m wrong and would welcome your views. Time will obviously tell. In the meantime, one thing is for sure. The road ahead is going to be hard and many pundits are expecting us to go into deep depression. As businesses, let’s support each other to get through whatever life throws at us in the best way we can.

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