Will the Covid-19 Shutdown Destroy or Transform Your Future?
Over a third of the world’s population has been instructed to stay at home in the biggest global shutdown ever, in order to contain the Covid-19 virus. Millions of people have had their lives turned upside down, lost their jobs, or gotten sick.
During the Covid-19 Shutdown, millions of workers all over the world have lost their jobs due to the closures of hotels, bars, restaurants, theatres, and clubs as well as manufacturing plants and many other industries.
Although governments in Europe and North America have offered companies grants to pay their workers a percentage of their normal pay, millions of others in poorer countries have not.
Millions of people all over the world have joined the unemployment lines, and face delays as their claims are processed. E.g. 1 million to date in the U.K. and over 15 million in the USA (April 2020).
2. HOME WORKING & SCHOOL CLOSURES
Workers who have kept their jobs during this Covid-19 shutdown have been working from home, often with childcare responsibilities piled on top of their work responsibilities.
As schools and universities have closed, thousands of teenagers and young children face hours trapped in their homes, with little diversion and varying degrees of online educational input.
3. EQUIPMENT & FOOD SHORTAGES
As shoppers panicked at the start of the crisis and bought more than enough for their immediate needs, supermarkets quickly ran out of supplies.
New laws and working practices had to be introduced to ensure food supplies could reach customer’s, despite the increased security at borders due to the Covid-19 Shutdown of international borders.
Supermarkets have had to employ more staff to restock their shelves several times a day, and although fresh food supplies have now almost returned to normal, other food staples such as eggs, rice and pasta are now being rationed when they are available (in the U.K. this happened for several months in 2020).
These shortages have caused financial problems for those who are self-isolation for 2 to 12 weeks and can cause more problems for the elderly and vulnerable who often live week to week.
Since Covid-19 attacks the whole immune system, chances of recovery are definitely lower if you are already suffering from a medical condition or are over the age of 55.
The shortages of ventilators and essential PPE equipment, as well as trained staff and beds, have already resulted in doctors being forced to make terrible decisions.
Decisions on who is allocated medical equipment is no longer based on who has the most need but on the one who is most likely to survive.
So far, in Europe, only France has prioritized complete self-sufficiency in PPE equipment, by the end of 2020. Other countries are still reliant on imports.
4. FOOD CHAIN DISRUPTION
The World Health Organization has warned of severe disruptions to food supplies all over the world, due to the Covid-19 Lockdown.
These shortages may be managed better in the months to come.
Or may get worse as farmers realize they can no longer rely on their cheap, skilled migrant workforce to harvest their crops.
Fruit and vegetables may rot in the fields if farmers do not recruit and train their national young people, who are eager to help.
Consumers now have to face the reality of the international connectedness of their rich food diversity.
Eastern European workers are used all over Europe to harvest fresh fruit and vegetables, and although some countries like Germany are providing special visas and transport, for migrant harvesters, not all are.
The migrant farmworkers themselves are concerned about social distancing, since they often share rooms with bunk beds, and do not have PPE. They must also weigh up the pros and cons of accepting a contract in a different country, where they may get sick as most of their contracts do not include sickness benefits if they do contract Covid-19.
Although the disruption of the food delivery and production supply may lead to a resurgence of growing food at home, this is unlikely to fill the gap for everyone immediately.
However, encouraging more people to grow their own food and vegetables at home, if they have space, may have long-term health benefits for consumers, as well as reducing each household’s carbon footprint.
5. THREATS OF VIOLENCE
After several months of severe restrictions on movement in southern Italy, young people are already protesting and some are turning to criminal behavior as they run out of money for food.
National governments are struggling to negotiate the health benefits of continuing lockdowns with the potential economic repercussions and social unrest.
6. The Opportunities Of Remote Working
As the Covid-19 Shutdown continues it is difficult to continue “work as normal” regardless of sector, and in the long run this may even have surprising benefits as we devise new ways of working and living.
Manufacturers all over the world have been asked, and responded, to medical staff requests for more equipment, and more support for staff.
Many Companies have responded creatively.
For example, the restaurateurs who have donated food, and cooked meals for medical staff in London. They had food supplies and staff but no customers.
Or the German company who has donated trainers (running shoes) to medical staff, and are running a “Buy one, donate one” scheme for American medical staff now.
Hotels who have no customers have opened their doors to the homeless and to nursing staff who do not want to risk journeys via public transport to go home to families they may put at risk.
Supermarkets are donating food to food banks to ensure the poorest do not go hungry during this crisis. (It is not cheap to have to stock up on several weeks food due to self-isolation recommendations)
So how will YOUR COMPANY help others during this time of global crisis?
OPPORTUNITIES DURING THE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN
Ways Of Working
Managers now have the opportunity to judge the productivity of their workers by the quality and result of their work, rather than sticking to the old-fashioned model of hours worked.
This model, which is a hangover from the industrial era, is really based on a low average of
X number of hours = Y (predictable) results
However, during Lockdown, working from 9 to 5 is no longer going to be a “supervised” activity. Although, of course, managers can track worker’s logged in hours using Apps like TOGGL
But, ultimately they will have to trust their employees to complete their tasks, during their working day, if they are working from home.
However, intellectual workers, problem solvers, creatives, designers and many others gain skills as they gain experience.
A more experienced, multi-skilled worker will take less time to complete a task, for example, to organize a team’s schedule, set up meetings, clarify agendas, etc. than someone who is just beginning their working life.
Should they receive the same rate of pay, even though they take perhaps half the time to do it, or should they be paid per outcome/ per result?
Many of you will argue that more experienced workers generally receive a higher rate of pay, as they are older. This is not necessarily true.
Outcome related pay is a norm for some professions. For example, if you ask someone to fix a new boiler in your house, you pay for the outcome. You don’t necessarily care how long it will take, and when the installers say 2-3 days you can accept that, it will depend on the individual characteristics of your house and your previous system.
Old Fashioned Ideas About Productivity
However, office managers often have trust issues, with their employees. Many do not believe that their employees will complete their tasks, if left unsupervised or work at home.
As recently as a couple of years ago, when I suggested an office director may want to work from home one day, because of his extensive commuting times that week, he reacted as if he had been insulted. It was as if I had suggested something indecent!
Older generations especially have found the idea of letting workers work unsupervised difficult to accept.
One positive outcome of this awful current situation is this change in working practices across all sectors.
Even supermarkets and food retailers have had to accept that more priority and more staff must be allocated to online orders and deliveries.
The world has changed, and the awareness of how we can live our lives more than ever, online, will not be something easily forgotten.
This change in working processes alongside the social infrastructure changes that have happened in developed nations will result in a very different world, once we awake from this nightmare.
Investment In Research & Development
As many larger companies are keeping staff on at reduced pay, it is an opportunity to review company structures and working practices and also invest time and energy in more long-term development projects.
Research and development for most products and services can continue, without the constant pressure of delivery
Given the drop in worldwide pollution since the Pandemic Shutdown all over the world, this could also be an opportunity for your company to develop a “zero impact” policy.
- You are already cutting your carbon footprint by staying at home, how can you reduce it further?
- How can your period under shutdown benefit future generations, through the choices you make right now?
- What can you change or switch to reduce your company’s carbon footprint?
As companies search for digital alternatives to how they sell their products and services, as well as how they can best serve their customer’s needs and stay afloat during this current crisis, how are you going to change your marketing?
Will you rely more on social media and digital marketing and digital advertising?
If you do not have the right expertise will you
- Take a course?
- Hire the right expert help
- Will you offer different services or products that can be purchased online?
- What skills do you need to develop to manage in the digital world, and how can you lead your organization or business in this coming period?
It is easy to place blame on government leaders and CEOs for what is happening as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and resultant Covid-19 Shutdown. It is always easy to place blame.
However, as the heroic acts of many healthcare workers, medical staff have shown us, leadership doesn’t always come from above.
In a year’s time, you may look back to this point, and say,
I wish I had ……
Or, if you act intentionally and remain open-minded to new possibilities today, you may well be able to say:
“I did the absolute best that I could, for myself, my friends and family, and my co-workers!
I would love to hear your comments, please comment below:
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